Hidden behind a broom closet of a newly opened restaurant in Udine northeastern Italy whose address we are not allowed to divulge, Mr. Simon is a cocktail bar where guests are able to get in by phone reservation only and in possession of an access code, which changes daily. Mr Simon – botanico alchimista has been conceived by Visual Display, the Italian creative agency specialised in retail design and brand building.
Mr. Simon get it’s name from its bartender Simone Maion, but the more experienced mixologist among you will immediately remind Mr. Simon cocktail created in 2015 at London’s Playground Club inspired by the vintage “Gin Cocktail”and Old Simon Rutte jenever which was being released in Europe at the time.
The secret bar is imagined as the eclectic apartment of Mr Simon, a botanical alchemist, passionate explorer and memorabilia collector, but most of all, expert mixologist.
The interior project, born together with the ideation of the name and creative concept, is a cosy deep blue living room where Simon is the landlord and stylish bartender.
The bar is furnished with a bricolage of furnishings and ephemera, an eclectic array of velvet chairs, mix-matched rugs, assorted picture frames that crowd the walls and vintage objects that represent a variety of worldly styles, providing a fresh twist on some classic styles. Souvenirs from the globetrotter’s travels perch next to the myriad bottles of alcohol, punctuate the interior with stories of different experiences and tours.
The room hosts 25 seats only and a marble top counter full of ingredients and strange souvenirs. Customers feel as guests in Simon’s house, where everything is designed to make them feel good: low lights, beautiful music in the background, mirrors and cosy furnishing. The experience is enchanting and immersive: cocktails are unusual and can be chosen from menus collected by the host during his trips around the world or improvised by the inspiration of the moment.
The well-stocked liquor display includes a wide range of whiskeys and bourbons with a predilection for Japanese labels and a very fine selection of typically Italian vermouth.
The menu also comprehends a small but sophisticated food selection to go with the drinks such as wagyu beef tasting, tartare burger and fresh oysters.
Photo credits: Virginie Foubert Photography, Visual Display