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06 Nov 2018 By

Go Get High at Skai, The New Elevated Bar At The Swissotel.

Skai is the new bar high above the thirsty masses on the top level Swissotel, with together with its sister restaurant commandeer one of the best views of the city. The bar though, is perched in a smaller alcove, which grants it a bit more intimacy. It’s here where we met Rusty Cerven, Skai’s Beverage Manager, who created its cocktail program based on the notion of elevation: sea, rainforest, high desert and alpine (more of which later).

Previously from member’s club 1880 – where he led the team to launch the bar – he also had stints in London’s The Connaught Bar and The Gibson. He’s the kind of guy who, when you first get introduced to, exudes the kind of karmic cool that puts you at ease. After a quick walk through of the concept and menu, we made our orders, and made him go through our Parched inquisition.

skai rusty

What’s your signature cocktail?

There are a plethora of cocktails that I create depending on the occasion, with that said I would say that the Faraway Collins is one of my all-time favourite and is always a standout. It is made up of a combination of yuzu juice, eucalyptus syrup, gin and sarsaparilla soda.

I created the drink in 2012 for the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender competition and it was really well received by the judges. Since then, it has become one of the best-selling cocktails at the  Connaught Bar in London. I visited the bar recently and was really surprised when I realised that the cocktail is still featured on their menu, four years after I left the bar.

skai 4 pisco

There are three signature cocktails in each of the four aforementioned segments. The Summit from Alpine is a spirited blend of Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye Whisky, Braulio (the amaro is sous vide with wild thyme), and topped with frothy wild carrot air. It works somehow, a punchy textured and bracing drink that should ideally be your go-to Pisco.


Who is the one person that you would most like to drink with? (Can be fictional)

It will have to be the iconic Frank Sinatra, I am a huge fan of his work and he is in my opinion one of the best musicians. Last but not least, he loved a good whiskey… need I say more.

What’s the best cocktail for celebrations?

Definitely a classic Champagne Cocktail, which is the perfect combination of sugar, bitters, cognac and Champagne. This classic cocktail is widely loved by everyone regardless of the gender and it never gets old or boring.

skai high desert

The High Desert Cocktails.

What’s the best cocktail for a broken heart?

Whenever a guest walks into my bar with a broken heart, my goal is to cheer him or her up. The solution and answer to that? Any cocktail that is tequila related, it makes everyone happier after a glass or two… !

The Beyond The Sand cocktail (above) is my current drink of choice, made with a combination of Milagro Silver tequila, toasted barley agave, fresh lime juice and wheat beer – this refreshingly crisp tipple will definitely give guests something else to talk about!

skai samphire

Readers know we love us a good martini: in the foreground is the Samphire (Sea), a classic with fresh samphire, and the quirky touch with the oyster leaf adds a marine element. clever. The Buckthorn Cliff uses vodka and ingredients like sea buckthorn, honey water, calvados and gardenia flower. The sea salt on the rim means you have to lick the glass. You have to.


What is your favourite drink to consume after a shift?

A bottle of ice cold quality IPA or a glass of red wine is my favourite go-to drink to kick back and relax to after a shift.

What drink(s) would you not consume?

Any cheesy, sugary cocktails from 80’s era. They were mostly unbalanced and made using low quality spirits which I try to avoid as much as possible! That’s why I’ve made it a point to ensure that all cocktails at Skai are well balanced and that we use only quality spirits and ingredients.

In your opinion, what’s a cocktail or bar trend that needs to stop or is overrated?

The Long Island Ice Tea trend definitely has to stop. It is basically a mix of all kinds of spirits in one drink, it’s purpose is to make a person really drunk, taking away the pleasure that one should have while savouring the taste of a drink.

<interview ends>

skai desert rose2

There are many other worthwhile cocktails here, I love Rolling Stone for its crisp spirit forward smokiness, while the Nori Highball is a peaty and dry cocktail with the right touch of saltiness. I will give a special shout out to the Desert Rose (above)…because mezcal. 

Twelve artisanal signatures here, 12 reasons to get high at Skai.

Skai, 70th Floor, Swissotel The Stamford.

Like this? Check Out The Gorgeous Legacy Records Bar in NYC

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