69 COLEBROOKE ROW: HITTING IT OUT OF THE PARK
Tony Conigliaro shares his name with a famous American baseball star, which probably explains why, with his new bar, 69 Colebrooke Row he has hit another home run
I first encountered Tony's cocktail skills at Isola, the wretchedly overpriced Oliver Peyton joint on that site in Knightsbridge which has, over the years, mutated from high end Italian restaurant to wine bar before finally giving way to a short lived Brazilian restaurant and now a re-incarnation of The Chicago Rib Shack.
For many, Tony was always the best thing about any visit to Isola and, after that when he went to set up the Shochu Lounge in the basement of equally overpriced Roka, it was again sampling from his list of cocktails that proved the main attraction for many.
During his career, Tony has managed to create some of the most interesting drinks in London and along the way has collected awards by the armful including, I am pleased to report, the title of “International Bartender of the Year” at the recent Tales of The Cocktail gathering in New Orleans. It is a prestigious accolade, won last year by Hawksmoor’s Nick Strangeway and it says a huge amount about Tony’s skills and the strength of the UK bar scene right now that he managed to persuade some of the greatest names in the cocktail business that the honour should remain in London.
Now, after a period working as a drinks consultant, I am delighted to say that Tony is doing what he does best, running a bar. 69 Colebrooke Row is a small space in an unassuming building situated just South of the Essex Road in Islington and one glimpse at the drinks list tells you that even if you were foolish enough to ask for a Mojito here, it would be unlike any Mojito you have ever tried.
69 Colebrooke Row showcases the influence upon Tony’s drink creations of the world of Molecular Gastronomy as he and his “dream team” of Kim Ireland and Walter Aceti, offer up a short range of crafted cocktails using infusions of flowers and fruits. On our quick visit before heading up to Little Sardegna, my own drink, a beautifully made Beefeater Dry Martini came with a “Dry Essence” a separate distillation of phenols that added an extra depth to the cocktail, while HP’s Americanino was a more simple combination of grapefruit infused Campari with Martini Rosso, lengthened with soda water.
With the house cocktails well priced at £7 a pop, it would have been easy to work our way through the menu, but supper called and, after our one drink, we headed off up to Highbury with firm intentions of returning soon and returning often.
It is still in its nascent stages, but based on our initial visit 69 Colebrooke Row promises to become one of the most interesting bars in London within a very short space of time.
With Tony Conigliaro at the helm, it was hardly likely to be anything else.