A Post Loosely Related To Perfume…

If I tell you that the world of mixology has its very own Luca Turin or Roja Dove and you know enough about fragrance to know what I’m talking about, you must go to Islington drinking den 69 Colebrooke Row this very minute. And when you’ve found this magical backstreet speakeasy and have started to wonder why you’ve ever bothered with the bruiser of a cocktail bar you usually frequent, you will look down at your perfectly formed menu, spot Lipstick Rose, and wonder what kind of delicious perfumery-saloon you’ve ended up in. Then when you’ve dithered enough over a roll call of aromatics such as sandalwood, apple blossom, honey water and tuberose your cocktail will arrive and you will probably take a moment or two before taking a sip, because it will be the prettiest little sling you have ever seen. And finally you will ask, who is this nose behind the bar, and why do I feel like I’m about to drink my way around the shelves of the Liberty beauty hall?

Meet Tony Conigliaro, because that’s who made your cocktail. If this were a food blog I’d call him the Heston Blumenthal of mixologists but it’s not so I’ll stick with pioneering drinks scientist, co-owner of 69 Colebrooke Row, and co-winner of The Observer Food Monthly Best Place To Drink 2010. And (and this is the bit that means I can devote a whole post to his work) he has more than a passing interest in perfumery…

‘I’ve been reading about perfume for years and find the shared history of alchemy extremely exciting,’ says Tony. ‘Looking at cocktails through the filter of perfumery gives me a different way to approach ingredients and the way they can be put together, and helps me bring new flavours to the table.’

An example please, Barman? ‘If you look at tuberose, it’s sweet, floral and honey-like, with spicy notes that could be mistaken for tequila. They actually have a chemical overlay, hence go really well together – we use it in the Gonzales with caramel liqueur, lemon and tequila, to amplify the notes we’re trying to bring out in the drink.’ And please note, when Tony says tuberose he’s not bashing up blooms behind the bar but cooking up a honey water tuberose hydrosol (or water-based essence) in his upstairs lab, all the better for getting the aromas bedded right into the drink.

Of course it’s the Lipstick Rose, with its raspberry and violet syrup, rose vodka and champagne, that gives the game away – that it shares its name with an impossibly feminine fragrance is more than just a slip of the menu. ‘The drink was inspired by Ralf Schwieger and his highly conceptual Lipstick Rose, from the Frédéric Malle stable Editions de Parfums. The edible nature of the ingredients he used (rose, violet, raspberry and grapefruit) coupled with the scent of lipstick he married it to is genius!’ Jean-Claude Ellena is another favourite nose, says Tony. ‘His juices are transcendental and I love the way he creates timeless moments with his perfumes – Bvlugari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert is incredible. Then Geza Schoen of Escentric Molecules for his uber-modern approach, and anything from Frédéric Malle. And right now, I’m wearing The Different Company Sel de Vétiver.’

If you’d like to try the original Lipstick Rose (and you should, because it’s a sweet and powdery dream of a properly powerful perfume) it’s available here from Les Senteurs, who will charm the pants off you if you can get there in person or send you a tiny phial for £3 p&p if you can’t. But whether this post was intended to send you to the beauty halls or drive you to drink, you be the judge. All I’m saying is it’s Thursday, it’s almost Christmas, and I will probably follow my nose to Islington. See you there…

Editions de Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose

One Response to “A Post Loosely Related To Perfume…”
  1. JT Thomas says:

    Great article, very interesting cross over. Isn’t this the guy who did the translation of Chanel no. 5 into a champagne drink? Rumour has it (I think i remember reading) that they (Chanel) sent him a cease and desist so he removed it from circulation! Does anybody know if it is the same guy? What a pity if so that I would have liked to taste!!


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