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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

London's Best Cocktail Bars - 69 Colebrooke Row

I am torn between writing about 69 Colebrooke Row or keeping it to myself.  Tucked away in a small street off manic Upper Street in Islington, this is a small, intimate cocktail bar and one of my favourite recent finds.  It is owned by mixologist Tony Conigliaro and publican Camille Hobby-Limon of nearby Charles Lamb, a fantastic local pub.

Tony has a laboratory upstairs where he creates some of the base alcohols for the cocktails, some interesting natural flavourings and mixers that he serves in the bar.  We were given a short private tour of his lab, which was both intriguing and fascinating. 

On the evening I was there, we had a selection of their most renowned cocktails, almost all of which are priced @ £8.50.  I enjoyed the “Haiku” (a delicious concoction of Kigo Shochu with almond, rice milk and sandalwood), and also the “Spitfire” (Cognac, crème de peche, lemon juice, sugar and white wine). 
Apart from the many interesting cocktails on offer choices for other drinks is somewhat limited. There is one beer - the delicious Belgian Vedett @ £3.50 per bottle, and wine is limited to a single choice of red, rose and white all priced @ £21.50 per bottle.  All are of good quality.

We were served a fine selection of small bites to accompany the drinks.  These were delightful and matched well the cocktails we were drinking. They included roast pork with apple mustard jelly, beetroot with rocket and goats cheese, pickled cucumber with caper and mint, mortadella with pistachio and lemon, salame with black papper, lime and cocoa nib, date with walnut soft cheese, pecorino with anchoby, caper and chilli, foie gras and orange, and parmesan with balsamic vinegar and saffron (at £6.50 for the lot).
69 Colebrooke Row is a small, elegant and intimate bar, with very few tables, but if you can get one, it's a great place to spend an evening.  Service is knowledgeable and friendly with bar staff in stylish retro lab coats.  The bar is a cut above most cocktail bars in London - the passion of the owner and staff to serve the finest cocktails is inspiring.  It is striking how close it is to the dreadful bars and restaurants that are sadly ubiquitous in Islington.
69 Colebrooke Row gives hands-on masterclasses (2 hours @ £40) which will teach you how to create some of their cocktails, and give you a glimpse of the history and creation process of the drinks you will sample. The classes include all supplies, snacks and nibbles. Future cocktail masterclasses are on 12th February for “Valentine” and on 26th February for “Japanese”.
The bar is open 7 days a week, Sunday to Wednesday until midnight, Thursday until 1am, Friday and Saturday until 2am. Live Jazz is also performed every first and third Sundays of the month by the “Vipers Dream” at 7pm.

Cost: Most cocktails are priced at £8.50. Bottles of wine are £21.50, Vedett beer is £3.50, and the amuse bouche selection is priced at £6.50.
Likes: fantastic range of cocktails, knowledgeable, friendly staff, elegant and intimate surroundings in the heart of Islington. I would also love to attend one of their cocktail masterclasses.
Dislikes: At times, particularly weekends, it is hard to get a table.
Verdict: My cocktail bar of choice in London, 69 Colebrooke Row is a cut above similar establishments. Very highly recommended.

69 Colebrooke Row on Urbanspoon


  1. Sounds fab… and perfect for a date…!

  2. Love this place. The atmosphere is amazing - sitting in the dark made me feel like I was in prohibition America!

  3. Looks like my kind of place, I need to get myself down there quick smart.
    Thanks for not keeping it a secret!

  4. Wow! This looks perfect! I think I need a cocktail now!!

  5. if their cocktails are as good as the ECC or Bentleys I will gladly go !
    I'm writing a review right now on the best cocktails in London. I've got Hawksmoor, Cecconnis, Dean Street T, Mark's bar...any other recommendations?=)

  6. Wow! How very impressive! And quite a reasonable price. Definitely on my list...


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