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Winter is coming?

Untitled Bar, London
Untitled Bar, London

The first drink on the menu is called Snow – but it’s March, no? With ingredients not usually found in a standard cocktail, such as clay and chalk, one would think Snow wouldn’t be heralded so brazenly at the top of the menu, but with only twelve drinks on the menu, there really is nowhere to hide.

I haven’t ingested either material since I was a child, and that was definitely not on purpose. If this wasn’t the newest venture from cocktail alchemist Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row and Bar Termini fame, I would probably not have ordered it, but here I was at his newest venture, Untitled, about to take a sip.

I am loathe to call it a bar as there was nary a bartender in sight and no actual bar that I could see. When querying my server as to what alcohol the drinks contained, as there was none listed on the menu, I was informed they were all made from neutral spirit.

Having just passed my WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits, I actually knew what he was talking about and hastily explained it to the Cypriot. Basically, it’s grain alcohol that has been distilled so much that there is no flavor left – only spirit, thus the name.

Still, no one at the “bar” appeared to care if they missed out on the odd Old-Fashioned or ever-present Rum & Coke that night. We were all gathered around to experience the output of the imagination of this Heston Blumenthal of the Spirit world…at least that’s why I was here and I wasn’t disappointed.

Snow was ordered and, with it, the very sunny-named Sicily, with its easier-to-imagine-drinking ingredients of orange blossom and citrus. Although slightly smaller than I expected and with the third ingredient, Enoki, adding that touch of umami, Snow tasted like a really great martini, which I love.

What was stunning was the color. My photograph does not do it justice: shimmery, iridescent, otherworldly – like snow when it first falls. No need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure why Mr. Conigliaro gave it that moniker.

Our Sicily combined a delicate mix of Mediterranean flavors but with a surprising bite to it, like the island itself, a wonderful climate with a torrid, violent history.

Onto Round Two – Violin & Ninfeo.  Violin – exactly what you would think from its name – a woody flavor with a hint of black pepper, closest to whiskey if you had to compare it to a similar spirit. Styled in the most divinely shaped glass, after a few of these you might be playing the glass.

While we’re speaking of drinking vessels, it’s hard not to reveal the one used to transport Ninfeo to your mouth. I leave it to your imagination to figure out what’s going on under the fig leaf. Yes, it tasted equally as pleasant as the other beverages, but with the Ninfeo – it’s more about the glassware.

We stopped at the four cocktails to go on to dinner in trendy Dalston, but will definitely be back to try the other eight left on the menu. Do your research about Mr. Conigliaro and try his other places – then descend upon here to discover where the future of the cocktail is headed.

PS: Loads of bar snacks abound – our favs were the tomato crisps and the pickled cucumbers!

Untitled, 538 Kingland Road, London E8 4AH

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