THIS is not the first time London’s best – and smallest – bar, 69 Colebrook Row, has made it into these pages. And it won’t be the last. Because it is still the only bar we know of in London with an actual lab upstairs where mixologist and owner Tony Conigliari and his crew hide out and create incredible El Bulli-style drinks.
I went along recently to see what was new for autumn. One thing is a partnership with Merlet and Fils cognac, whose makers Conigliari is very friendly with – the limited edition labels even have Colebrooke Row stamps on them. It’s a delightfully drinkable blend and pops up on the list in the form of the Spitfire, accompanied by crème de peche, lemon juice, sugar and white wine. But the most notable aspect of the night came when we headed up to the lab. Vials of everything from flower essence to niche whisky sat on shelves. Chemical equipment for distilling and suctioning sat atop fridges containing turnips and ham (for snacks, not drinks). Bottles of horseradish vodka – Conigliari’s latest plaything – lined a counter. As I was feeling coldy, he presented me with a shot glass. I took a sniff. It was a blast of menthol and smelled exactly like Vicks Vapour Rub. Turns out, it was Fisherman’s Friend tablets, the sugar and additives sucked out by a globular glass machine, and marinated in alcohol. It was astonishing, and oddly good. As for my snivels, they cleared up sharpish.
Whether you’re snivelling from a cold or work-related woes, something at Colebrooke Row should sort you out. A hot toddy with melted butter and rum went famously with my cold, the Kigo (a sake-like spirit) with almond and rice milk and sandalwood was oddly soothing too. As for the rest, go along and check it out for yourself. Cocktails £8. 69 Colebrook Row, N1 8AA, tel: 07540528593.