My life in food: Tony Conigliaro, Mixologist

‘I draw my inspiration from art, science and even perfumery’

Tony Conigliaro is a titan of the UK drink scene. He collects awards like others do stamps. His London Bars, the Zetter Townhouse and 69 Colebrooke Row, are frequently garlanded with titles such as “Best Place to Drink” and “ World’s Best Cocktail Bar”. He makes use of sound and texture as well as taste and smell in his creations, which he comes up with at his north London Drink Factory, and has produced a book, Drinks (Ebury Press, £25) which is half cocktail recipes and half drink autobiography. In June he will launch the bar at the Grain Store with chef Bruno Loubet.

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?

I am constantly tasting and adjusting my recipes. So the kitchen tool I reach for the most is a wooden spoon – if that can be classed as equipment. I find that everything seems to taste better on a plain and simple wooden spoon. At home in my kitchen, I tend not to use scales. I prefer to improvise, tweaking recipes depending on my mood. This is the complete opposite of how we work at the Drink Factory, my lab and research centre, where everything is weighed and considered in the finest details. Maybe being carefree about recipes at home is my way of relaxing after a long day at work.

 

If you only had £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

The ultimate meal on a budget would have to be a steaming bowl of Asian noodles. I love exploring new places around Soho and China Town. £10 goes far there – the options are endless.

 

What do you eat or drink for comfort?

For me, pastry is the definitive comfort food, but it needs to be paired with something savoury. The combination of beef and pastry is truly heavenly, so something like a beef pie would be my perfect meal.

 

If you could only eat bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Easy. I would definitely choose potatoes over bread. I once had a potato roast-off with the conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jim Wood, for the perfect roast potato. It was too close to call.

 

What’s your desert island drink?

It would have to be Rhum JM Rum Agricole from Martinique, a drink like that could make you happy to be stranded on a deserted island – and never want to leave!

 

What’s your favourite bar?

I’m going to have to say my favourite bar is 69 Colebrooke Row. I spend enough time there.

 

What’s your favourite cookbook?

As I spend the day using and making recipes, I don’t really use cookbooks at home. I prefer to cook instinctively, but if I’m really stuck, I’ll have a look around the internet. At work, on the other hand, I spend ages searching for weird and ­wonderful books for inspiration.

 

Who taught you about alcohol?

I consider myself to be self-taught when it comes to alcohol. I have always been intrigued by the science of taste, and have spent a long time over the years experimenting and discovering new techniques. I draw my inspiration from art, science, and design, and am inspired by anyone from chefs to perfumiers. For example my new cocktail, “Lipstick Rose”, was inspired by perfumer Ralf Schwieger’s creation for Frederic Malle. The best way to learn in this business is hands-on experience, a nd keeping an open mind to trying new things.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

    Guru Careers: Carpenter / Maintenance Operator

    £25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Coordinator

    £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced PSV Coach & Minibus Drivers

    £12500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Drivers wanted for a family run...

    Day In a Page

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Atwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'