Bar Conte is an ode to one of our favourite neon red cocktails and Count Camillo Negroni—the count, adventurer, and lover of gin. The Count, as legend has it, invented the Negroni while trying to make his Americano a bit boozier one fateful afternoon at a London bar at the dawn of the roaring 20s.
Negroni enthusiasts are a special bunch, and Bar Conte's co-owner Raffaele Lombard counts himself among them. A dedicated Negroni and aperitivo bar for Sydney has been a dream of his for over a decade.
"The negroni is my drink of choice," he explains. "And [it] has been since I was a young man growing up in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast. It's bitter, strong, and clean—the ultimate pre-dinner drink. We felt it deserved its own dedicated bar.”
At Bar Conte, you'll find a sweeping list of 20 Negroni variations, made with top-shelf Australian and Italian vermouths. Begin with the Count's OG concoction, the "Negroni Classico 1919" made with Campari, Cinzano 1757, and Tanqueray.
When you're ready to advance your love of the bright red drink, there are whisky and bourbon Negronis; there's a version made with Pinot Grigio called the "Bicicletta", a mezcal Negroni, and even a chocolate Negroni made with chocolate liqueur. Beyond the Negroni, you'll find a hit list of classic cocktails and Italian vino.
To eat, a menu of Negroni-themed and Negroni-appropriate snacks and smaller share plates has been crafted by head chef and co-owner, Steve De Vecchi (ex-The Apollo). Think Appellation oysters with Negroni dressing (obviously), Negroni infused salumi, and fluffy homemade focaccia to soak up the booze. Bigger dishes include gnocchi sorrentina and marinated eggplant caprino.
Lombard's wife, Victoria Hampshire, is behind Bar Conte's ultra-charming design. It's F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Italian adventurer, with deep red walls and accents of bottle green and brass.
Image credit: Steven Woodburn