Some would call Tony Conigliaro a bartender. But things are not as simple as they seem at 69 Colebrooke Row in Islington of North London where he owns, “The Bar With No Name”.
Amongst industry folk, Tony Conigliaro is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of beverage and mixology. Having worked as a bartender for many years in esteemed establishments such as Hakkasan, Roka and Zuma in London, Conigliaro began to started watching the chefs and the began introduce innovative methods of cocktail making into his menu. From then on, Conigliaro has constantly continued to push the boundaries of traditional cocktail making; using science to expand the preconceived notions of what actually makes a cocktail and further exploring the flavour construct of alcohol and building upon that to create ground-breaking menus.
The Cool Hunter takes us inside Conigliaro’s laboratory.
Whilst being a forward thinker, Conigliaro is still aware of the rich history and art of cocktail making and he pays respect to this with versions of the classics, with one of his most well known being his take of the Prairie Oyster.
His creative process concentrates on the three elements of concept, flavour and science and the incorporation of bespoke ingredients. He also says that “Each drink goes through a whole series of rigorous processes. What is it? Why? Who is it for? I think about aroma, taste, texture, look. There’s always a plan”.
Conigliaro’s laboratory above 69 Colebrooke Row (which, only recognisable by a lantern and red awning) is is the hub of wild imagination, experimentation and precision. The place is kitted out with some very fancy equipment such as a Centrifuge Rota Vapour and a Soxhelet Still, which are used for the preparation of distillates and extracts.
Downstairs is the bar which, despite the assumed pretension, is casual, much loved for its 1950’s style Italian Cafe ‘front room’ feel and it’s intimate and friendly atmosphere.
“We’re different from most bars because we study the structure of the drink. ‘The passion and dedication we put into each cocktail can take months.”
Conigliaro still finds the time to host masterclasses in cocktail making, to write articles and consult, whilst running his highly acclaimed bar, which has recently won Class Award for Best New Bar 2010 and The Observer Best Place to Drink 2010. He is also currently working on a cocktail book that showcases his recipes.