All the wines at the new basement bar underneath restaurant Trullo at Highbury Corner, London, are from Italy, just as all the food uses authentic Italian ingredients and flavours. So it makes sense that the cocktails at Trullo Downstairs should reflect this dedication to all things Italian. Under bar manager Paisley Kennett, the small and selective list of cocktails offers twists on Italian classics using some interesting ingredients.
Head chef Tim Siadatan and restaurateur Jordan Frieda opened Trullo a year and a half ago, gaining good reviews for their simple seasonal menu of Italian-inspired dishes. Buoyed by their success, they have now opened up the basement and turned it into a cocktail bar and dining area where people can enjoy cocktails and wine alongside small aperitivo-style dishes of the same quality as the main restaurant upstairs. It is an intimate space with exposed brickwork and alcoves, seating up to 40 people.
Paisley joined Trullo about four months ago to run the bar on both levels. She began her career at The Canny Man’s in Morningside, Edinburgh, before working at some of the UK’s top cocktail bars such as The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh and Purl in Marylebone, London.
The stars of her cocktail list at Trullo Downstairs are her twists on a Negroni. The White Negroni is a moreish blend of Sicilian white wine Catarratto Il Meridione, Merlet Crème de Poire William, Plymouth Gin and Kammerling’s Ginseng Spirit, with a lemon twist. Reflecting the seasonality of the drinks as much as the food, this was originally made with elderflower liqueur instead of pear liqueur. “Like the food menu, everything is seasonal,” Paisley explains. “Everything will change as fresh ingredients become available. There will always be new cocktails. The menu will be changed every month or two, more or less.”
Her Dark Negroni is equally good, combining Plymouth Gin and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino with Campari and burnt rosemary. Another Italian-influenced aperitif is her Nonito, which is made with Cassano Limoncello 1875, pink grapefruit, thyme and mint, topped up with soda – described as an ideal accompaniment to olives. The Trullo Sbagliato is a twist on a Negroni Sbagliato, which literally means “a wrong Negroni”. It combines Campari, quince liqueur, orange bitters and the house prosecco, di Valdobbiadene. Again, this was originally developed for the autumn with the seasonal flavour of pumpkin liqueur instead of the quince.
Other cocktails include an Espresso Martini, made with Union espresso, hazelnut syrup and Ketel One vodka while the bartenders can make other classic cocktails that customers can ask for. Paisley says the Aperol Spritz – made with Aperol, prosecco and a splash of soda – has become very popular. All the cocktails on the menu come with suggestions for pairing with food, which ranges from the delicious pappardelle with beef shin ragu to the comforting farinata with gorgonzola and rosemary. “The kitchen has had a massive influence on the drinks,” Paisley adds. “We want to create something that really goes with the food.”
Trullo Downstairs, 300-302 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2LH Tel: 020 7226 2733 www.trullorestaurant.com