Thursday, 29 March 2012

Tales of the Cocktail and New Orleans

Tales Spirited Nominations are drawing to a close to be sure to get your nominations in quickly! Currently the form linked below is to nominate only, NOT to vote for a winner of any category. As always Tony Conigliaro, Drink Factory and 69 Colebrooke Row would be immensely grateful for your nomination and then (hopefully) subsequent votes!

You can nominate your favourites HERE

This years categories are:

World’s Best Cocktail Bar

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

World’s Best Drinks Selection
World’s Best Hotel Bar
World’s Best New Cocktail Bar
Best Cocktail Writing

Best Bar Mentor

International Bartender of the Year

"La Nouvelle Orleans" is rivaled by very few in the sheer wealth of music, food, and cocktail culture.

Often referred to as the birthplace of jazz and then it's subsequent morphing into RnB and Rock n' Roll, many put this down to the sheer diversity in the cultures living within New Orleans. It was a melange of traditions that melded and morphed around the city creating styles that were widely popular but distinctly New Orleans.

As well known as it is for it's music, many would argue it's history of creating classic and legendary cocktails is just as well important. Now home to the Museum of the American Cocktail and Tales of the Cocktail, the area is assured to retain it's place as a cocktail haven. In 2008 the Sazerac was named the Official Cocktail of New Orleans after being created by Amedee Peychaud in the early 1800,s. The drink was originally mixed with cognac however over time Thomas Handy stepped in and changed the spirit to rye whiskey sometime during the 1870's and the recipe has remained un-touched to this day.

A drink which is perhaps slightly less well known to some contemporary bars, but has an equally important place in the history books is the Ramos Fizz. In it's initial guise it would be shaken by 12 different people for one minute each. Created by Henry C Ramos at Meyers Restaurant, it has since been adapted into a slightly more practical drink but still has puts many bartenders arms to the test of shaking it properly.

Though it would be very easy to spend a very very long time talking about New Orleans cocktail history, it's present day choice of restaurants surely deserves equal attention.

Arnauds - Housed in the french quarter, Arnauds features award-winning Creole cuisine, friendly, charming service and an ambiance you will only find in the French Quarter.

Brennan's - A highly renowned legend in New Orleans, with good reason. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can find the restaurant in the French Quarter and sample some of the worlds most imaginative dishes.

What is New Orleans if not laid back and that is reflected in some of it's more relaxed eateries and cafes. Huck Finns Cafe, for instance, is famed for serving authentic New Orleans dishes, whose recipes have been passed down through generations. Or Mulate's Cajun Restaurant. which many consider to be the place that made Cajun culture famous.

We hope to see you there!

Duke Ellington - "I don't need time, I need a deadline"

Duke Ellington called his music "American Music" rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as "beyond category. He remains one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music and is widely considered as one of the twentieth century's best known African American personalities.

Duke Ellington influenced millions of people both around the world and at home. He gave American music its own sound for the first time. In his fifty year career, he played over 20,000 performances in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East as well as Asia.

Duke Ellington is best remembered for the over 3000 songs that he composed during his lifetime. His best known titles include; "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing", "Sophisticated Lady", "Mood Indigo", “Solitude", "In a Mellotone", and "Satin Doll".

Duke Ellington's popular compositions set the bar for generations of brilliant jazz, pop, theater and soundtrack composers to come. While these compositions guarantee his greatness, what makes Duke an iconoclastic genius are his extended suites.

Duke Ellington was partial to giving brief verbal accounts of the moods his songs captured. Reading those accounts is like looking deep into the background of an old photo of New York and noticing the lost and almost unaccountable details that gave the city its character during Ellington's heyday, which began in 1927 when his band made the Cotton Club its home.

''The memory of things gone,''Ellington once said, ''is important to a jazz musician,'' and the stories he sometimes told about his songs are the record of those things gone.

Duke Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966. He was later awarded several other prizes, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, and the Legion of Honor by France in 1973, the highest civilian honors in each country. He died of lung cancer and pneumonia on May 24, 1974. At his funeral attended by over 12,000 people at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Ella Fitzgerald summed up the occasion, "It's a very sad day...A genius has passed."

Upcoming Masterclasses

Why not get your “N'awlin’s” swing on and head to 69 Colebrooke Row on Saturday 2nd June (2-4pm) for a special Bourbon Cocktails Masterclass…
Price - £40 per head
Early booking recommended - book your place/s -

On Saturday 23rd June, 2012 between 2-4pm, join us for our firstTequila & Mezcal Cocktails Masterclass. Experience the distinct flavours from south of the border in the inimitable bar with no name fashion.
Price - £40 per head
Early booking highly recommended - maria@69colebrookerow

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Gibson Martini

As with so many classic drinks the origin of the Gibson martini is murky and marred with contradictory stories.

Some state that Charles Dana Gibson was responsible. After challenging Charley Connolly the bartender at Players Club, New York to improve the recipe of a classic martini, Connolly took a simple and left field approach and substituted the garnish for an onion and named the creation after his patron Charles Dana Gibson.

Several suggest the Gibson was created by savvy business men, or diplomats so that they could differentiate their drinks from others at the table or party, but also be in cahoots with the bartender who would in fact be serving them water. One such was a cunning investment banker named Gibson who would take his clients out for a so called 3 martini business lunch. Gibson would have the bartender serve him cold water, while his clients would continue down a less sober path as the meal went on. The garnish was meant to distinguish his drink from his guests.

Possibly the most likely version comes from Charles McCabe of the San Francisco Chronicle. He states the cocktails origins lay within San Francisco, and his account is backed up by several other figures. In an interview with Allan P. Gibson, Gibson speaks of when he was a boy and he would hear tales of his great-uncle Walter D.K Gibson, who had created the drink at the Bohemian Club during the 1890's. Further evidence in support of this comes from Ward Thompson, a member of the Bohemian Club, who mentions the drink in 1898 which is the cocktails first recorded mention.

Here is Charkes McCabes account t of the story…

"The story goes that WDK Gibson objected to the way the bartender at the Bohemian made martinis. He preferred them stirred, and made with Plymouth Gin. He also believed that eating onions would prevent colds. Hence the onion. In his version--which I've not seen in later bar books, a twist of orange was held over the glass so that a bit of the oil would fall on the top. The original Gibson--as with all martinis--was also sweeter before the first world war, with about a 1/4 vermouth.

WDK died in 1938. I remember that here in San Francisco in my childhood (the '60's) my grandfather and all the old crowd spoke of the Gibson as being created here and by Walter Gibson, who was the brother-in-law of the "Sugar King" JD Spreckels. The first reference I have seen to it in a bar book was in one printed about 1911."

"...Unfortunately, I didn't know WDK Gibson myself but all those who did, my grandfather and my father and uncle remembered him well and the fact that he invented the Gibson. He used to drink them until he died in 38; and during prohibition his wife whose sister was Lillie Spreckels, insisted that the gin be prepared specially at home lest an inferior quality slip in. Alas I have no idea what her recipe was."

While every drinker will be familiar with a Martini, the Gibson has always held a slightly underrated and unsung position amongst the variations of the classic drink. Cocktails, like anything, are as much a slave to social fashions and trends as clothes and tastes. Perhaps the meteoric rise in classic Martini's and their standing in film and media left the Gibson in the shadows slightly. Forgotten behind the trends for olives and lemon zests.

The Gibson does, however, enjoy some notable endorsements of it's own. Cary Grant is famously known for his love of Gibson Martini's. In his film North by Northwest, directed by Hitchcock, we see him ordering one during a conversation with Eva Marie. More recently, in the classically styled tv show Mad Men, Roger Sterling is know to order Gibson's.

Johnny Otis and the Hand Jive

Johnny Otis was born December 28, 1921 in Vallejo, California. He grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood in Berkeley, California, where his father owned and operated a neighborhood grocery store. He began his musical career in 1939 as a drummer with Count Otis Matthew's West Oakland House Rockers. In 1943, at the recommendation of Nat "King" Cole and Jimmy Witherspoon, he moved to Los Angeles to join Harlan Leonard's Kansas City Rockets at the Club Alabam. By 1945 he was leading his own band, and had his first big hit that year with "Harlem Nocturne". In 1950 he had ten songs that made the Top 10 on Billboard Magazine's Best Selling Retail Rhythm & Blues Records list. With this success, he went on the road with his California Rhythm & Blues Caravan, and became the hottest musical attraction in black America. In the early 1950's, remaining active as a writer, performer, and producer, Johnny began a radio career and became one of the most popular disc jockeys in southern California.

Johnny Otis discovered many legendary Rhythm and Blues singers such as Esther Phillips, Willie Mae "Big Momma" Thornton, Etta James, and the Robins (who later evolved into the Coasters), all of whom were at one time featured vocalists in his band.

Johnny has been inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, into the Blues Hall of Fame and into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Archives of African American Music and Culture at the University of Indiana has cataloged hundreds of hours of his past radio shows for his interviews, comments, insights, and historical significance.

Rum Masterclass - Extra Date Added

On Saturday 10th March 2012
2pm – 4pm we shall be holding a Classic Rum Cocktails Masterclass.
Given the popularity of this particular spirit and it’s appearance in so many of our favourite cocktails, we strongly advise you book your place now!
£40 per person


Thought so – it’s a popular one; hence another Rum Cocktails Masterclass shall take place on
Saturday 5th MAY 2012
Same deal as above ~ including the booking early bit!
See you there

To book contact -

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Gun Crazy - The law abiding citizen lured into a life of crime

D.O.A - Victim of circumstance

Gin Masterclass - 21 April

All hail a nice drop o’ mothers ruin…

OK so fair enough, this one has been a long time coming. But given our location, a mere hop, skip and a jump from London’s gin heartland could it be more appropriate? Probably not.

To hear BBC Radio 4′s recent examination of the resurgence of good old gin, featuring our very own Tony C click HERE

The usual masterclass procedures apply and the will be featuring Beefeater 24
Date - Saturday April 21st
Time - 2-4pm
Cost - £40

Book now by contacting

Rock n Rollin with Fats Domino

"A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or PH.D. Unfortunately they don't have a J.O.B." - Fats Domino

For a long time, it was said, that Fats Domino had hit his sweet spot with everything he made turning into Billboard gold and capturing the mood of the time. He first gained the spotlight on a national level with his song "The Fat Man", released 1949 on Imperial Records. The song went on to sell a million copies and holds acclaim as being one of the first Rock n Roll songs to gain such high sales.

From then on Fats Domino released a slew of hits with his closely knit band and producer Dave Bartholemew. In 1955 Domino broke out of the RnB mould with the arrival of Rock n Roll and into the pop charts with "Ain't it A Shame" which broke the top ten and was also released under Imperial Records. Carrying on a successful year Domino released his first album "Keep On Rockin'" in Novemeber, which was subsequently re-issued in 1956 under new title "Rock and Rolling with Fats Domino" which went on to reach number 17 in the pop albums chart.

During 1949 - 1960 Domino had sales of up to 23 million seventeen of which were co-written by Dave Bartholomew. In the early 60's Imperial Records was sold to Liberty. Sales, subsequently faded slightly and Fats went on to sign a contract with ABC Paramount and later released material on Mercury, Reprise and Sonet.

The long awaited and much anticipated biography of Fats Domino was published in 2006 titled "Blue Monday - Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock n Roll" written by Rick Coleman.

"La La" appeared on the B-Side of "Ain't it A Shame"

Set Up - An ageing boxer

Night and The City - A hapless grifter

Prairie Oyster

One of the tenets of Tony’s approach to drinks stemming the past twelve years has been a synergy between food and drink. It started in Isola conversing with Bruno Loubet about elements of cuisine that could be applied to the bar. For instance if you could make a puree from fresh fruit rather than buy it then why not? The bespoke product more often than nothas the edge.

The structure of dishes also influenced Tony’s approach to drink, escaping the gravitational pull of sweet and sour or aromatic pivot that informs most drinks, he started to look at the few savory drinks that peppered cocktails book here and there: the Tuxedo, the Dirty Martini, the Bloody Mary.

At the heart of all these drink was umami or savoriness, a quality hard to describe but long praised by Japanese chefs and central to a lot of Spanish and Italian food. Umami is present in high concentration in foods such as tomatoes, parmesan and miso. As such, the Bloody Mary was the ideal candidate not only for its ubiquitous presence in cocktail culture but also wider appeal in relation to the general public. But how to re-configure or make new this classic drink.

Three concepts collided: the original Prairie Oyster whereby an egg yolk was downed with a shot of tomato juice and spices. The classic oyster, a thrilling but alien food, which has always fascinated due to the way it slides down the throat and tastes of the sea. Finally the Bloody Mary, (which would form the road map of ingredients), replacing the tomato juice with a clarified tomato juice, reformulated to resemble an egg yolk. horseradish vodka, Oloroso sherry, Worcester sauce, pepper sauce, shallots (a traditional garnish for oysters), red wine vinegar and finally an oyster leaf (actually has an intense taste of oyster).

The drink is available from Tuesday to Saturday ONLY between 5pm - 7pm. More information to come next week.

The Big Sleep - The private eye

The Big Heat - The plain clothes policeman

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Louis Prima - "Jump Jive and Wail"

Jump Jive and Wail appeared on Prima's 1956 album The Wildest!. The album features both Keely Smith and Sam Butera and the Witnesses and is generally considered to be his greatest work in the way it straddled early rock n roll, blues and jazz.

Louis Prima King of The Swingers

In Walt Disney's 1969 cartoon "Jungle Book," Louis Prima did the voice of the King Louis character and famously asked producers "Are you trying to make a monkey out of me" to which they replied "Well..yes", "Well you got me" Louis replied

Louis Prima's career began in the early 1930's, playing jazz trumpet in the style of fellow New Orleans trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Prima led his own swing band throughout most of the 30's and 40's, and starting in the mid-50's, he spent the rest of his career as a Las Vegas style entertainer. But during the late 40's and early 50's, he played a style of music closely resembling what we call rock and roll today.

Louis Prima was not an imitator of early R&B. It's no stretch of the truth to say that Louis Prima was one of the innovators of early R&B. Just as important, he was a superstar in the Italian community, and a major inspiration for the earliest Italian rock and roll artists, some of whom, such as Jimmy Cavallo, Sam Butera, and Pat The Cat, pre-date the entrance of rock and roll into the mainstream. Cavallos first R&B records were cut in 1951, Pat The Cat's were cut in 1952. Earlier still were some 1949 R&B recordings on the X label by a very young Sam Butera, who not only was inspired by Louis Prima in the 40's, but teamed up with him in the 50's and stayed with him for decades, and still plays Prima hits to live audiences in Vegas till this day.

Source - Hoy Hoy

New Drink at 69 Colebrooke Row

We will be releasing some more details about this drink next week. For now we can tell you it will only be available from Tuesday to Saturday between 5pm - 7pm. More information to come next week.

Louis Prima asked, legendary New Orleans saxophonist, Sam Butera the name of their new band on stage. Butera spontaneously shouted out "The Witntesses!". The band from then on was Sam Butera and the Witnesses backing Prima and Smith

The pair outgrew the lounge in Las Vegas and moved on to make several musical films along with Sam Butera and the Witnesses.

In 1959 Prima and Smith won a Grammy for Best Performance by a Vocal Group for "That Old Black Magic"