Bar manager Ionut-Narcis Tiprigan has long dreamed of Negronis. And now with the June christening of The Dog House, the second locale opened below Italian restaurant Bernardi’s in the Marylebone section of London, they are coming colorfully to life in close to a dozen interpretations. These technicolor Negronis contain ingredients as diverse as Nocellara del Belice olives infused with Citadelle gin and Calabrian chile peppers.
Two super unusual Negroni versions include the Negroni Picantem—made with Fair gin, Cocchi Americano, Nardini rosso vermouth garnished with a big green Calabrian chile—and the Rose Negroni, a blend of Regal Rogue rosso vermouth, Mondino amaro and negroamaro rosé wine.
However, what unites the Negroni lineup is a common use of classic Italian spirits—a wide assortment of bitters and vermouths—that interplay with British produce. Tiprigan says that what stands out about The Dog House “is our art of embracing diverse and unique products from both the U.K. and Italy, such as our delicious Campari and our use of freshly pressed English apples.”
While Tiprigan already worked for the restaurant group before it opened the downstairs bar, he had to hire a team of bartenders. Not surprisingly, the bartenders are all Southern European (mostly Italian, with one Greek bartender; Tiprigan is Romanian). Their ethos, given that the bar does between 80 and 130 covers a night, is “failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” according to Tiprigan.
Tiprigan says the bar’s intention is to “celebrate Italian products without straying too far away from the classics. By using unusual ingredients yet still keeping the classic cocktail methods [such as shaking/stirring], we managed to keep the originality while not breaking any rules, as I myself am quite a traditionalist.”
The menu at The Dog House changes with the seasons. Tiprigan says his fruit purveyors are “always updating us on what is new and in season. Then we take the products ... put the chef jackets on and start cooking! I like making lots of different sorbets, purées, compotes, jams, etc., using the fruits in season and then adding them into the drinks,” with autumn bringing “fruits like pears, plums, mainly stone fruits and grapes.”
Two of the current drinks are “the gin @ the dog house”—made with Jensen’s Old Tom gin, cardamom, grapefruit peel and Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water—and the Like Pimm’s, a blend of Lambrusco Solco Paltrinieri sparkling wine, bilberry liqueur, Martini Bianco Vermouth, seasonal fruits and lemonade.
Another popular cocktail is a simple and classic Bellini, and one of the more inventive is the Amante, made with Stellacello liqueur, Villa Zarri brandy and fresh grapefruit juice. It’s served as a short drink. The bar menu indicates the way each drink is served, whether long, short, as a spritz or as a Martini.