Five Minutes With…Tony Conigliaro

We recently caught up with Tony Conigliaro, legendary bartender, Creative Director of the Drink Factory and brilliant speaker on creativity and innovation. At his lab in east London, we chatted about his background, the Drink Factory’s ethos and his biggest failures and successes.

How did the Drink Factory come about?
I started bartending about 20 years ago as a junior.  As I worked my way up the industry and began creating my own ingredients and recipes, I needed a place to experiment – that’s how the Drink Factory was born. Now it’s the Research & Development hub for our bars like 69 Colebrooke Row, Bar Termini, Untitled and the Zetter Townhouse group.

What’s the Drink Factory’s ethos?
Explore, explore, explore. Never be scared of ideas. Even when you disagree with an idea, it can be a good place to start because it’ll clarify what you actually want to say.

How do you and your team get into a creative mindset?
Alcohol! Only kidding. We try to surround ourselves with as many influences as possible: research, music, films, art galleries…then we draw the ideas out in conversation – or sometimes literally draw them out – and then translate them into flavour.

Your use of technology is legendary in the industry…
For me the technology is actually the least interesting bit, even though we use a lot of it. It’s mainly a means for making our processes accurate and consistent. The most important thing is the idea behind it.

Simplicity is an obsession of yours…
For us it’s about what we can take away to say what we want to say, rather than what we can add. So we’re forever lopping branches off, so to speak, and narrowing the essence of the drink down. I think you need to take the excess away for people to understand the drink and for them to be able to put their own meaning on it.

What’s been your biggest failure?
Not writing things down. Creative ideas and recipes can be one-offs and can disappear forever. There are definitely ones that got away!

And your biggest success?
Getting repeat custom. Does your customer keep coming back to you? Are they coming back because they’re interested in what you do? If yes, that’s success.

To book Tony Conigliaro as a keynote speaker, contact Leo at or on 0044 (0) 7833 727090.