Named after Rome’s main railway station, Bar Termini is an oasis of calm, a little slice of Italy, in London’s ever busy Soho neighborhood. It is both a daytime stop for a coffee – Italian quality coffee – and an evening halt for a nice cocktail pre or after dinner.
The bar is rather discreet with its Venetian blinds almost hiding it from passers-by. Inside, the atmosphere is cozy and laid-back with seven small tables and a few seats at the bar. The luggage racks on the brick wall give the atmosphere of a station bar. Vintage style posters on the wall announce the bar’s specialties: Negronis. Adding a final touch of Italian elegance to Bar Termini, the waiters all wear white jackets embroidered with the bar’s logo.
Bar Termini is famous for its choice and quality of Negronis: bianco, superiore, rosato, classico and robusto. Negroni Classico is, well, a classic Negroni. Negroni Bianco is made with Martini Bianco, fennel seeds, anis liquor and a hint of pine. Negroni Superiore is a classic Negroni infused with pink peppercorns, while Negroni Rosato is infused with dried rose petals. Finally, Negroni Robusto is an aged classic Negroni. All Negronis are prepared in advance, bottled and labelled with the same illustrations as on the walls.
I first had a delicious Negroni Robusto. The fact it’s aged gives it an extra mellowness and chestnut taste I absolutely enjoyed. I then followed the other waitress’s advice and tried the Negroni Superiore. I’ll be honest: I couldn’t taste the peppercorn much. After a few sips, it became more pronounced but only slightly. Instead of the expected spiciness, I felt the peppercorn made the Superiore a little more bitter than the Robusto. Not bad but I definitely preferred the Robusto.
I returned to Bar Termini on New Year’s Eve with a friend of mine. I had liked the bar’s atmosphere a lot and thought it would be a great place to ring in 2018 smoothly. We were lucky to find seats immediately just half an hour before midnight struck. I again ordered a Negroni Robusto – just as good as the last time – and my friend went for a Negroni Blanco. She enjoyed it very much, although she was a bit surprised to find it sweet. Not being a fan of anise, I didn’t taste it but I’ll trust her judgement! At midnight, the bartenders popped up the prosecco and offered a cup to everyone which was really nice. Even better were the slices of Panettone they distributed. A nice and tasty way to start the New Year the traditional Italian way!
In addition to its Negronis, Bar Termini also lists seven cocktails on its menu. They include the bar’s twists on the classic Italian cocktails, the Spritz Termini (which adds rhubarb cordial to the original recipe) and the Bellini (which contains almond blossoms in addition to the usual peach puree and prosecco). The Marsala Martini is a combination of Beefeater Gin, Marsala Dolce, Dry Vermouth and Almond bitters. Simple and intriguing to say the least, the Terroir cocktail lists three ingredients: flint, clay and lichen distillates! I didn’t try the cocktails as I was in a mood for Negronis but I’ll gladly go back to Bar Termini to taste them on my next visit to London ! Same goes for the bar food!
Bar Termini is one of Tony Conigliaro’s, one of today’s bartending references, many projects in London. He also has The Bar with no name, aka 69 Colebrooke Row, and the new Bar Termini Centrale in Marylebone. You can book a masterclass in the latter to learn how to make the perfect coffee or aperitif cocktail. For that, visit Bar Termini‘s website from which you can also purchase bottles of Negroni, if you’re a lucky resident of the UK! As for me, I’ll have to wait for my next visit to London to enjoy a Negroni Robusto again!