Tony Conigliaro is a molecular mixologist and a leading drinks expert. He founded the cocktail bar 69 Colebrooke Row in 2009, has won numerous awards and published two books. Factorylux provided lighting for Colebrooke Row and we thought it was time to catch up with Tony to find out more about him.
I’ve heard that sound and music influence your drinks – what was the last song that influenced one of your creations?
It was a piece from a Libretto by Arturo Colautti which was showing at the Holland Park Opera House. The performance was based on the play Adrienne Lecouvreur by Eugène Scribe and Ernst Legouvé. It’s about unrequited love, deceit, betrayal, violence and death. We designed a drink for the production.
What are you working on at the moment?
Flavours that flavour themselves – using vodka to flavour vodka for instance – and we’ve just made a prosecco puree out of a prosecco bellini.
When you’re working long days in your lab, do you ever accidentally get drunk?
[Laughs] No. We taste in such small amounts that it’s negligible. And the creative process gives us a high, so we don’t need alcohol for motivation.
If you could only drink one cocktail for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Gin Martini 5:1 Twist.
What has been the most satisfying reaction you’ve had from a customer?
Someone crying – it was an emotional response to a drink that reminded her of her family back home.
What have been your proudest and most embarrassing moments?
Opening this place [Colebrooke Row and the lab] and calling Patrick Stewart ‘Captain Jean-Luc Picard’ when offering him a drink. I’m a major Star Trek geek!
What’s the longest you’ve spent formulating a new recipe?
More than two years is the longest.
So how did you come across Factorylux lighting?
You were still the Historic Lighting company back in 2009 and my bar manager found the lighting on the internet. We were impressed and rang your founder, Stanley Wilson, and jumped on a number 38 bus which stopped right outside his house in Dalston. We hung out there for few hours chatting while we looked at what would work in Colebrooke Row. It was a very chilled afternoon.
What’s your pet hate?
Bartenders that don’t smile.
You’re transported to a desert island. What three things would you take with you?
My record collection, coffee and a very good bottle of rum.
Tony, thanks for being interviewed and we wish you every success in the future.