It is easy to see why Drink Kong is suddenly the most talked about cocktail bar in Rome.
It is dark and slick and full of cool people drinking complex and tasty creations. There is neon in all the right places and not-quite-enough seating so that the very fact you got through the door feels like victory enough.
I found myself here with Marta last week, out far past our bedtime and reveling in it – while also feeling a bit out of the game. It has been a second since I check out a crazy popular new Rome bar and I just desperately wanted it to be as good as everyone seems to be saying it is.
Drink Kong is the first solo project by Patrick Pistolesi, one of the Eternal City’s best mixologist. It was Patrick who years ago helped craft the first unforgettable cocktail list at Barnum before he moved on to Cafe Propaganda by the Colosseum.
Drink Kong has an internationally inspired menu that takes a few liberties. We inhaled the ginger chicken dumplings after missing dinner but the injera wraps weren’t really injera. The food isn’t really the point here, though. The point is the drinks.
The cocktail menu actually requires a little bit of trust. All you get as you flip through the minimalist menu is the name of the drink and the main alcohol. The other ingredients and the presentation are left as a surprise. The drink choices are guided by the flavor profiles: dry, sweet or bitter. After that, your drink is in the hands of the mixologist.
The Lotus was recommended by Isobel (who I ran into at the bar!) as a tropical gin sour. I’m a sucker for egg whites in drinks and I liked the passionfruit twist.
Drink Kong isn’t exactly the place for a quiet drink, but it isn’t some crazy nightclub either. It falls somewhere in between: dimly lit, without deafening music, but requiring a bit of elbowing to get to the bar. Located between Monti and Esquilino in a space that I honestly feel like may have been an old furniture store but now can’t remember what was there before.
Depending on the day of the week, you can also find live music or even mixology classes inside the Blade Runner inspired interior.
We rolled in at 11 pm on a Saturday without any reservations but the crowd was wall-to-wall by the time we left at 12:30 am. You can book a table if you plan to order food as well to be sure that you have a spot. Otherwise, embrace the crowd as part of the fun of drinking at Rome’s newest hotspot.
As I jumped into a cab, the driver assumed I was very cool.
“They’re good, aren’t they? The owner is half-Irish, I think. I drove him home once. Really nice.”
“They are good,” I replied. As if Rome bar hopping was something I did every night.
Featured image by Alberto Blasetti, courtesy of Drink Kong.
Piazza di S. Martino Ai Monti, 8,
Rome, Italy (Monti)
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 6:30 pm to 2 am. Closed Monday.
+39 06 2348 8666
Metro stop: Cavour (B line)