I'm a London-dwelling northern lass who swapped the East End for Far East on the trip of a lifetime. I blog about food, travel, yoga and spirituality. www.sophiesnotinkansas.com
Published March 23rd 2013
Brings a whole to meaning to '69'
Tucked away on a side street just out of sight of bustling Upper Street lies 69 Colebrooke Row. The 'bar with no name' can be identified by a red martini awning covering the doorway. Although difficult to find, visitors are rewarded once inside with a chic, bijous environment, knowledgeable staff and cocktails to die for.
The New York prohibition style is chic, understated and elegant: black and white floor tiles and dark wooden furniture. Taking 'boutique' to whole new levels, the tiny space can only occupy up to 40 people at any one time and advance booking is essential. The upside of this, though, is that the waiting staff are able to focus all of their attention on providing an unparalleled level of service.
We recently went to 69 Colebrooke row to celebrate my boyfriend's birthday and although I could only book for six of us (limiting the party somewhat), the visit itself was faultless. We were shown to our seats and presented with the cocktail menu which is nothing short of magical.
We enjoyed a complimentary round of 'Prairie Oysters' the bar's signature cocktail
Mixologist Tony Conigliaro is the brains behind this inspired array of cocktails and having worked for years with chefs, one of his chief inspirations is food. An example of this is the 'Prairie Oyster', one of the bar's signature cocktails. To kick us off, the waitress brought us a complimentary round of this theatrical drink which takes its inspiration from the classic hangover cure the 'Bloody Mary', the original 'Prairie Oyster' )in which an egg yolk had to be downed along with tomato juice) and the oyster itself, a controversial food owing to its salty and slippery texture that has to be swallowed whole.
The Prairie Oyster came beautifully presented in a porcelain 'oyster shell' and looked exactly like an egg yolk. However, when we slid it down the hatch in one (as you would with its namesake) we were surprised and delighted with the taste sensation that ensued.. The exploded in the mouth comprised horseradish vodka, sherry, Worcester sauce, shallots, red wine vinegar and clarified tomato juice. Nothing like an oyster - or an egg yolk, for that matter.
Between all 7 of us (they graciously allowed one more to join the party, although we were told this was an exception), we managed to get through most of the cocktail menu. Highlights had to be the St James' Gate which came served in a goblet and looked deceptively like Guiness but was in fact a rum-based drink with a Guiness reduction. Confusing, surprising, pleasant.
St James Gate - looks like Guinness, tastes like rum
The boys went for Barbershop Fizz which had pine-infused beefeater gin and patchouli-infused mint. Perhaps the winner of the night had to be the Terroir, recommended by the waitress. This was described in the menu as comprising 'distilled clay, flint and lichen served straight from the bottle'. We had to try it. One sip and it was like nothing I had ever tasted before. The closest I could come to it was 'Narnia in a glass'. Magical.
Although 69 CR can be a little bit harsh on the wallet, the free Praire Oysters and the complimentary nibbles we received (olives, parmesan, Iberian ham), more than made up for it. For an unforgettable gustatory drinking experience it is worth every penny (just remember to book in advance).