I’ve been trying to work out how to get in a review of 69 Colebrooke Row since I started this blog. It’s probably my all time favourite cocktail bar. It crops up again and again in passing as I explore further into booze. It was definitely fundamental in my development as a massive cocktail nerd. Going just for the sake of writing a review seemed a little contrived. I’m currently mostly trying to explore places I’ve never been before, making it even harder.
Thankfully they’ve just launched a new spring menu. Better still they had a party to celebrate it (no, not some massive celebrity invite only thing, that I snuck into. I just booked a table – in fact it was very quite and we probably could have just walked in). New menu at my favourite bar and a jazz pianist. What more could I ask for?
The bar itself is an Italian/film noir inspired place. It’s got red leather seating and vintage Italian inspired posters, most of which are advertising the drinks on (or off) the menu. Its most notable feature is that it’s tiny. They are a lot less ‘flash’ than a lot of the other great London bars. Rather than focusing on presentation, they break down every drink in to its component parts and make sure each one of them is right. You can see why it appeals!
While we were choosing we were brought a Kir/Royale. That’s suspended cassis aroma in a Sancerre reduction. White wine jelly with black current bubbles. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. It did taste very like a Kir Royale and did exactly what they were going for. I’m just not completely convinced by the texture. I’ve never been a fan of just set jelly, whatever the context.
A Manhattan Steel Corp. was my first ordered drink. It’s a redistilled Manhattan. It’s clear. It tastes like a Manhattan. It made me giggle with glee. I loved it. Not that surprising given that I love Manhattans and this was a really good one.
Meanwhile Lovely Girlfriend had a Threefold. It’s champagne bitters, champagne gastrique (I guess a reduction) and champagne. First mouthful was ‘Ooooh!’. It was great. Unfortunately as it went on it lost a bit of the initial pizzazz. We sort of felt we might’ve rather just had a glass of champagne.
Facing a personal demon came next. I’ve not actually been able to drink tequila since 1999. I had ‘one of those nights’ on new years eve. I drank WAY too much tequila, and haven’t been able to since. Tonight I ordered a Terruño. It’s a skit on a previous Colebrooke Row favourite the Teroir, which was a clay/minerally drink. This was exactly that too, but with tequila as the base. It was a really nice drink. I managed to overcome the whole tequila thing (sort of) and really enjoyed it.
We’d decided this round was being experimental so Lovely Girlfriend had a Pagan. It’s golden beetroot vodka, Puerh tea and pagan incense. She said it smells like pipes and tastes like salad. I can’t beat that description. It was actually a really nice drink.
We played it a little safer to round the evening off. I had a Rye Rye, which was an absolutely amazing Rye Old Fashioned (with Rye syrup and Rye bitters), it was rich and almost chocolatey. Lovely.
Lovely girlfriend had a Nettle Collins. Nettle Gin. Nettle Syrup. Verjus (Google tells me this is a ‘highly acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes’). Soda. Nom. (What? I was bound to say it at some point). While it was the playing it safe round, and I did love the Manhattan, this was definitely both of us’s favourite round. We were definitely both glad we did the experimental round, and they were both great drinks. There is, however, a lot to be said for ordering drinks that are actually what you like.
All in all as great an evening as I was expecting. I’m still not convinced by either tequila or only just set jelly, but on the whole the drinks were predictably great.
The bar with no name
69 Colebrooke Row