I’ve never been shy of writing about the bars and cocktails of Tony Conigliaro. After all, one innovative drink to come out of his laboratory (yes, he has a laboratory) is worth a thousand uninspiring cocktail lists.
Tony has just opened a small bar in Soho. While his famed Islington bar 69 Colebrooke Row is bijou, Bar Termini is Lilliputian. But size, at least when it comes to bars, doesn’t matter.
Situated on Old Compton Street, Bar Termini is an idyll of 1950s Italy. The maestro Marco Arrigo has designed the thoughtful coffee list. If you’re passing during the day, stand at the bar like a true Italian and get an espresso for a pound coin. Now that's a pound store I can get behind.
The cocktail menu is stripped down to a page – a lesson for bars everywhere. I visited a nondescript City establishment last week, where I was faced with six pages of cocktail after cocktail. This always and everywhere sets alarm bells ringing. Besides being impossible to choose between all the drinks on offer, it’s a sign that the people mixing the drinks are jacks of all cocktails and masters of none. Size, at least when it comes to cocktail lists, does matter.
Following through with the Italian theme, Bar Termini specialises in variations of Negronis. Having ploughed through those – all of which were impeccable – I tried the Marsala Martini. It has the makings of a classic: flavour, balance and elegance. Marsala, which is Italian fortified wine, has never tasted so good.
A decade ago, Soho was the place to go out for a night on the tiles, but over the years other areas have overtaken it. This hasn't happened by chance. Bar Termini is the first place in the area to be granted an alcohol licence in nearly a decade. Let’s hope this is the first of many and Soho will be London’s playground once again.
- 50ml Beefeater gin
- 10ml sweet marsala
- 5ml dry vermouth
- Three dashes almond bitters (recipe available in 69 Colebrooke Row book)
- Add vermouth and marsala to a cocktail tin filled with ice. Stir.
- Add gin with bitters and stir. Strain and serve in a chilled champagne coupe.