I can’t remember exactly how I came to know of this bar, but it’s name had floated around through my ‘research’ of nice places to drink, and there were quite a few good reviews of it. Though I was no closer to knowing what it’s called. . .surely it can’t just be called ’69 Colebrooke Row’.
I was wrong, my receipt calls the place ‘The Bar With No Name’ and even though I knew what road it was on, and what to look out for (a lantern with the number 69 on it). I still had stood outside on the street for two minutes, having to doubleback on myself before I realised that the place I had assumed was empty, had life. If you do go looking for this place, don’t expect it to jump out to you. It blends into the backstreets, which is exactly what it tries to achieve.
On entering, I took a seat at the bar and took in the surroundings – it is a compact space, it looks like you could fit 40 at a push. Luckily for me, it was just a Tuesday night near 10PM by the time I arrived (due to a stop off at Hawksmoor to see #manvslegs).
Now settled on the inside, it became clear why I had struggled to realise this place was the bar I was looking for (even on entering I wasn’t 100% I had found it!), the windows are blacked out with blinds, the lighting are dim, and some soft jazz was gently playing in the background.
Two bartenders were behind the bar, and on looking at the well formed menu (current cocktail list), I went for the Lipstick Rose (Raspberry & Violet Syrup with Rose Vodka topped with Champagne).
Whilst the drink was nice, I had spotted a nice selection of spirits, and was in two minds about what to have next. Sometimes I wish I had a flowchart that would help when I want a ‘aromatic gin’ cocktail, instead it’s a good thing they had knowledgable bar staff on. A drink was described to me as a twist on a Sazerac, with Gin instead of Rye, and used Triple Sec.
We went on with a Clover Club, and then finished on an Aviation. I would have happily stayed for one more, but I had a tube to get and escape to the South Bank. In retrospect whilst the Lipstick Rose was nice, I do wish I tried the Vintage El Presidente (which is barrel aged for 6 months, the NY Times has a nice piece about Barrel Aged Cocktails, including a chat with Tony Conigliaro owner of 69 Colebrooke Row .)
Whilst I don’t often head to Islington for drinks I certainly would come back here, it’s a place you could easily while away a few hours as if you were back in time. If you live nearby, then how about taking a look down the end of Colebrooke row, I know a friend was surprised to find a bar there when I mentioned it to him.
Also, by way of coincidence, I visited on the bars first Birthday, so congragulations to Tony Conigliaro and his team, you are in my little black book of places to go back to!
Note: Pictures used courtesy of 69 Colebrooke Row