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69 Colebrooke Row

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69 Colebrooke Row, London, UK

CONSISTENCY IS AN ASSET TOO EASILY OVERLOOKED in the bar world and any proprietor who can make a concept work and last more than a couple of years deserves plenty of credit. Tony Conigliaro is such a man and, along with consistency, he’s made art out of deceptive simplicity.

On the surface at least, his bar named after its address, 69 Colebrooke Row, seems a lean and unassuming establishment. Stylish no doubt, the black and white checked floor tiles and vintage feel are obvious enough, but the bar doesn’t bask in the indulgences of décor. Even the menu seems simplistic. While the occasional ingredient might cause a head scratch for the uninitiated, any impending confusion can be easily swept under the carpet by a capable bartender’s brief explanation and the distraction of a delicious drink.

Of course, under the surface, and indeed above it, there’s substantially more going on. Conigliaro is something of a master when it comes to taste and flavour and his investigation into the science behind our drinking experience is almost unparalleled.

Upstairs he loses himself in research with a flavour factory, a laboratory boasting an abundance of cutting edge equipment. And, while occasional flourishes of the unusual on the menu might be overlooked by the novice, each drink has been created according to a set of strict flavour codes. The devil is in the scientific detail, but the art is in making sure it doesn’t blind you.

In 100 years, when the world of bartending looks back at this current golden age, Conigliaro will be one of the pioneers remembered. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise to see him regularly feature in this list.