News about Bar Termini is spreading like wild fire. Probably because Marco Arrigo, and Tony Conigliaro (of ZTH (Click HERE) and 69 Colebrooke (Click HERE) fame) decided to open it without announcement or event – it retained a mystery that everyone wants in on.
And what it is, is probably my next favourite study spot in Soho. A teeny tiny room with bar next door to the much more demanding-of-attention, La Bodega Negra, Bar Termini provides a pale blue, vintage Italian haven for coffee and cocktail fans. Inspired by Arrigo’s introduction of Illy coffee to London, and the many coffee shops that serve it in Soho, Termini serves up Italian classics in a chilled out space.
Firstly with coffee, true it a tiny bit pricier than your usual – espressos at 3 pounds, bicherins at 4 – they still impress. I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy Illy coffee as much as I enjoyed it here at Termini. With sides of pastries and mini-paninis, what’s not to love?
‘Mini’ might be a useful term here – the Negronis are positively miniscule, yet are incredible.
Three Negronis are presented: the Classico, Rosato, and Superiore. Each bottled (in their distinctive custom Art Deco bottles!) in advance, aged for up to three months – provide intense flavours, and surprisingly calm on the Campari (a result of aging).
The Classico provides a smooth Negroni experience, the Rosato and Superiore are infused with further ingredients:
The Superiore, my preferred of the three, is infused with pink peppercorns, to add a slight spiciness to it. It’s a bit subtle, and I certainly would prefer a more intense infusion, but spectacular as a Negroni – not too dry or sweet, subtle on the Campari, good roundedness from the vermouth. Excellent.
The Rosato can split the table depending on your appreciation of sweet drinks. Infused with rosebuds and rose water, this deep red Negroni brings forward a strong – but not sickly – rose to the cocktail. An interesting choice, rose and Negronis, but one that works. A bit sweet for me, but a wonderful drink overall – in this case, the small serving seems rational with the intense flavour.
The Marsala Martini: Beefeater gin, dry vermouth, marsala dolce and almond bitters, with an almond garnish stored in Champagne vinegar, salt and sugar. Oh my, this is strong. On first sip: a quintessential dry, dry Martini. Then the marsala dolce seeps in, leaving an empty ground for the almond bitters to shine. What a fantastic aperitif. The serving was a perfect size, took a while to take this one down. And the almond at the end? Sweet-sour, balsamic. An excellent twist on a Martini, served with crisp parmesan (as any marsala should).
Another exciting drink on the menu would be the Terroir, described as ‘Distillates of flint, clay and lichen’. Right. I was initially cautious, but I have always rested my faith in Tony, so went straight for it and was delighted by what I got. The Terroir is prepared by distilling the ‘grape’ flavours out of wine, leaving only the flavours presented by the terroir where the vines grew. However it is prepared, one must approach it like a new spirit unto itself. Beginning with a sourness at the back of the jaw, it moves forward with a mineral and surprisingly floral flavour – very reminiscent of sake. This is a drink I must recommend, especially for its uniqueness.
On a much more familiar note: A Bellini (Prosecco, peach puree, almond blossom) prepared so fresh, that even my normally bubbly-avoiding self enjoyed it. Finally, a good old Aperol Spritz (Beefeater gin, Aperol, prosecco) and rhubarb cordial. Hm, here is a drink I didn’t quite take to. Primarily because of the overpowering rhubarb cordial.
Service is excellent, no complaints. Very approachable, conversational staff dressed immaculately, all screaming Conigliaro’s personal specifications in uniform design.
In short, excellent list of cocktails for excellent prices. If any question regarding price can be raised, it would be the size of some of the cocktails (The Negronis and Bellini). In which case, my finger hovers over deciding the score regarding drinks. But the rest of the cocktails are sized accurately regarding their flavours. With excellent service, design, and attention to detail, Bar Termini is certainly a new spot in London that must be seen!
Drinks: **** – *****
7 Old Compton Street, Soho
London W1D 5JE.