Alongside New York, London is just about the best city in the world for eating, drinking and partying. Whether you want to glam it up in Chelsea or slum it down in the East End, every taste, style, price and perversion is catered for.
But no area is all things to all men (or women).
I’ve heard that Angel, Islington, is an exception to this rule, but I’m yet to be convinced. In my experience Angel is a compromise -- the jack-of-all-trades for a night out. That is, apart from a bar with no name located at 69 Colebrooke Row: brainchild of Tony Conigliaro, master of cocktails. It has an indisputable authenticity rooted in passion. The science behind the cocktail list is astonishing, but, on appearances alone, it’s an easy-to-swallow blend of film noir and classic Italian design. Tony’s vision was and is “simple, intimate and elegant, without pretension”.
The 69 Colebrooke Row bar has been around since 2009. With a new London bar noisily popping up every other day (and one silently closing, too), five years makes it part of the establishment and explains why Tony has written another book (a follow up to the excellent Drinks).
Tony’s 69 Colebrooke Row takes an innovative tack, blending noir fiction and anthology within a traditional cocktail book. As he acknowledges, the best inventors of cocktails study cookbooks rather than cocktail books. It aims to evoke the experience of being in the bar, so you’ll probably want to visit 69 Colebrooke Row before you read it.
When you pop in, be sure to order the Terroir cocktail. It’s a vodka-based distillation of clay, flint and lichen. Behind the scenes, in a laboratory just around the corner from the bar, a rotavapor, refractometer, thermomix and micron pipettes are used to create this cocktail, which elevated my expectations of the flavours a drink could deliver. It tastes of the earth, but it’s from another dimension.
- Weigh out the water, add the glycerine and sugar syrup and stir together.
- Combine the water mixture with the vodkas and stir, adding the dry essence.