Some places just have that certain something. The French have a phrase for it: ‘zat certain sumsing!’ Quirky spots you stumble upon and tell stories about. Lesser known marvels like bonkers bars, rickety restaurants or curious museums where the curator’s cats run wild. It’s not about price or prestige, no, no. It’s all charm and character. Places with personality. That’s a GLP, my friend. Come in and explore, then go out and explore.
Behind the beer pumps and glowing fridges, the spirit and mixer ranges are getting ever more of a workout across London’s bars. It seems that places can be judged by the quality of their Dirty Martinis as much as they can their neatly stacked burgers and chunky chips. At 69 Colebrooke Row, tucked away on an unassuming street corner, bartender turned mad scientist Tony Conigliaro has taken this idea to the extreme. For Tony, precision is everything and every detail is attended to in his spirited brews, as he strives to make the perfect cocktail and perfect place in which to imbibe it in this gorgeous little Islington establishment.
Aesthetically it’s 50s film noir, red leather and dark wood – and all about intimacy. Tony wants to tell a story with his drinks, and it’s a riveting read. With cocktails including the Death in Venice and the Oh Gosh, each cocktail has been crafted from bare ingredients in a laboratory (literally) not far from the bar itself. This is molecular gastronomy boozing. You get the sense that safety specs, pipettes and white coats come into full force behind closed doors. The highlight has to be a cocktail called La Rose. Champagne with a sugar cube infused with the scent of a rose, all built from the simple idea of drinking a nice glass of champers in the countryside. Jolly nice indeed.
69 Colebrooke Row actively encourages its punters to ask questions and learn about the level of care that has gone into every drink, not just with the staff but with the other patrons too. Before long everyone’s chatting and using Jilly Goolden lingo with wanton abandon. This isn’t just drinking, it’s a full on experience – and a very tasty one at that. You’ll soon catch yourself pointing into space and nodding knowingly as you decide it’s definitely a note of Madeira cake you’ve just detected.
A stone's throw away from the bar, Pink Floyd’s old recording studios play home to the Drinks Factory laboratory. Complete with centrifuge, water baths, Rotavapors and dehydrators, the lab is used to produce unique bespoke ingredients and to develop new recipes and methods using contemporary techniques. The space is also used to run a training school. Safe to say that if Heston Blumenthal fancied a tipple, he’d beeline here, but it’s not full of fireworks and explosions like his restaurants, things here are much more subtle than that. Head on down for a taste sensation you won’t forget, and good chat while you’re at it.
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Reservations are highly recommended, but the lucky few seated at the bar will have an unique vantage point from which to watch the skilled bartenders as they go about their craft.
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