Brilliance requires creativity. There are a lot of creative people in the spirits industry, to be sure. (There are a lot of spirited people in the creative industries… but I digress…) However, very few people have the ability to not only think outside the box, but fabricate an entirely new one.
Yes, I am speaking of Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row the London-based bartender / mad-scientist who tinkers and toils in his very own laboratory, dreaming up new ways to present spirited drinks to the public. Reminiscent of my culinary hero, Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame, who pushes the limits of gastronomy in his own laboratory in Barcelona, Tony invests in sophisticated equipment and raw materials, then bends our understanding and expectations of what a drink can be. Remember that “barrel aged cocktail” craze that swept the mixology world over the last couple of years? That came from Tony’s research and evangelism.
When I caught up with Tony in New Orleans, recently, to record a 20-minute episode for my iTunes show “One For the Road,” he told me about his new project, distilling terroir. Not the plants that grow in it, the dirt itself. I grabbed the camera crew and decided that we HAD to present this as a video, as well. (PS – tony has a book coming out – look for it!)