Shopping while under the influence can be a lot of fun. But it almost always ends in tears (I have the metallic gold hoodie to prove it). So I have mixed feelings about the arrival of Gazelle, the Mayfairbar and restaurant from drinks wizard Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row fame. Is it quite safe, I ask myself, to have a place like this serving delectable cocktails, just minutes from the boutiques of Bond Street? Surely it’s only a matter of time before a guest goes on an ill-advised shopping spree, emboldened by a few too many Negronis.
Let’s just say I warned you. Because it’s easy to forget yourself at Gazelle. Nestled above ultra-luxe shoemaker Casadei on Albemarle Street, this two-floor bar and restaurant sets out to be escapist. “We want it to feel like a club,” says Conigliaro, “but one where you don’t have to be a member.”
Whether he’s designing a brutalist bar in Hackney or a cocktail menu for a perfumer, Conigliaro has always drawn on a rich mix of influences: fashion, science, art, gastronomy. And Gazelle is no different. For the interiors, he and designer Shaun Clarkson (a mucker from his days at the Atlantic) took inspiration from the work of French fashion designer Haider Ackermann. “I love his use of texture and colour: satins, cottons, velvets, silks, deep purples, blues and reds,” says Conigliaro. “There’s a bohemian ease to what he designs – it feels effortless.” In Gazelle’s high-ceilinged restaurant, luxuriant pinks and golds are illuminated by tall windows, while up in the bar, night descends in a palette of deep blues, blacks and silvers.
For the drinks menu, Conigliaro takes the champagne cocktail as his muse; six variations come embellished with whipped champagne sorbet, homemade rose liqueur and the like, while a capsule champagne list ranges from prestige cuvées to cult growers. There are classic cocktails with a twist and some lovely non-alcoholic options that pair very well with food: a wine glass of chilled apple, pine and dill, and iced silver needle tea served in a delicate glass cup.
Chef Rob Roy Cameron (formerly of El Bulli) has created a food menu that also revels in texture and colour: shoppers can toy with Wagyu beef rolled in fuchsia plum dust; trembling domes of spherified aquavit and caviar; charcoal-cured halibut with blood orange; and foraged herb salads scattered with crispy anchovy skeletons (a delicacy that’s a lot more digestible than it sounds).
“I have a lot of friends who work in fashion and the thing I love about that world is it’s always in a state of regeneration,” says Conigliaro. “It’s never exhausted. And I find that really inspiring.” Much like the man himself.