Untitled Bar in Dalston: Conigliaro’s avant-garde cocktail outpost
As Shoreditch and Hoxton are now thoroughly saturated with some of the world’s best cocktail bars, it only makes sense that the scene would start to radiate outwards. The latest venture from cocktail alchemist Tony Conigliaro has taken its place on Dalston’s Kingsland Road, which is rapidly becoming the place to be for the best of London’s new bars.
Untitled is quite a different beast from the old-fashioned continental elegance of Conigliaro’s earlier venues, 69 Colebrooke Row and Bar Termini. A long, narrow space with walls lined with foil to recall Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory, and the polished concrete surfaces of a modern art gallery give off an air of studied cool. The unbroken greyness of the decor is moderated, however, by the warm welcome of the staff and the huge communal table occupying the main space of the bar, which encourages conversation and community.
As you might expect from a bar which so deliberately recalls Warhol and the contemporary art world which succeeded him, the drinks are like mini-installations in their own right. Each item on the menu, carefully engineered by Conigliaro’s team in his nearby lab, the Drink Factory, is designed to evoke a particular experience or object. With one-word titles like Snow, Violin and Sicily, these are short, strong cocktails which represent ideas distilled down to their essence.
We started with Snow, a relative of 69 Colebrooke Row’s Terruño and Termini’s Terroir, all of which feature a slightly unusual cocktail ingredient – clay; in the case of Untitled’s, it’s combined with enoki vodka and chalk to create a slightly sweet, clean yet distinctly earthy flavour, not unlike the smell of a garden wet with snowfall. Sicily meanwhile, is a bitter and bone-dry mix of citrus vodka, verbena, and bitter orange, the fragrance of a warm Mediterranean evening.
Rye makes a cocktail out of the flavour of one spirit – rye whiskey – by adding a syrup of toasted rye and rye bitters. In keeping with the stylish minimalist aesthetic, a Japanese thread runs throughout the menu, from the subtle reference of Snow’s enoki vodka to the Rice cocktail, which aims to get down to the sweet, herbal essence of sake. There’s even soy in the rum-driven Habana.
The food menu of small plates is more openly Japanese and offers sticky chicken wings, delicious cured duck in teriyaki sauce, and a flamboyant pile of tempura seaweed with ponzu sauce – a very suitable snack to go with the drinks. For those who wish to stay healthy, the cherry tomatoes and watermelon salad will work perfectly.
Although the look of the place may be very different, the combination of sophistication, attention to detail and friendliness is becoming a Conigliaro hallmark: three good reasons to make Untitled the first stop on your Dalston cocktail pilgrimage.★★★★★Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Untitled, 538 Kingsland Road London E8 4AH, call 07841 022 924 or visit their website here.