The other stunning showpiece at the bar is the collection of glassware, which Alesch and Standefer spent years researching while stocking their store. Through the years, staff had received requests from customers to try out the expensive glassware in the same way they can the dishes at La Mercerie, but at the restaurant, it was too difficult to serve drinks in fragile, hand-wash-only glasses that could possibly break in a busy restaurant setting.
“The biggest idea was for people to be able to experience this artisanal glassware and to also try the drinks from the glassware, which is sort of part of the fetish of a bar anyway,” says Standefer, who adds that the way you hold a glass when you drink out of it is different than the way you would hold it to look at in a store. “And to learn about who the artists are and what and how they make something.”
As opposed to most bars that might use glassware inspired by the drink (if they even think about the glassware at all), Standefer and Alesch presented their favorite glasses—from heritage brands to young, up-and-coming artists—to La Mercerie’s director Aaron Thorp, who then devised a cocktail menu inspired by the glassware. The result is a tight menu of inventive drinks with surprising combinations, all served in some of the most incredible works of art you’ve ever seen.
There is also a selection of wines and rare Champagnes. If you order some wine, you’ll get to choose your glass or flute from several unique options. Even the liquor on display is carefully chosen based on looks, like hard-to-find bottles that Thorp has collected, including a vintage Voiron Chartreuse from the 1960s.
As for the mixed drinks, each of the eight cocktails is served in a different handmade glass, with the menu displaying a paragraph about the glass artisan alongside each drink description.
The impossibly thin coupe glass made by J. & L. Lobmeyr, a six-generation family-owned glassmaker in Vienna, is the receptacle for the Guild Bar Martini, made with three gins and two vermouths. It’s served with a generous helping of olives piled inside the gorgeous Lobmeyr Candy Dish III, with a curvaceous silver pick by Georg Jensen alongside. That’s right: you can pile in as many olives in your martini as you like.