Koob Experience is breaking boundaries in the art of blending. A circle of light projected on the street stones outside is the first indication of what’s afoot inside this multipurpose space. Moscow-born masterminds and long-term Florence residents Emma Mailova and Dmitry Kulish bring two decades of experience on the international contemporary art scene to their cultured cocktail venture along borgo Ognissanti.
Pushing open the door, whose lettering tells us what to expect (“Libri / Cocktail / Arte”), patrons are immediately struck by the scene before them: a sinuous red velvet settee sits in front of an arresting blue-and-black oversized canvas by Munich-based artist Jan Davidoff as if positioned just to fall into the strategically gallery-lit scene. A creative candle light fixture descends from the original medieval exposed wooden beams, a reminder that we are still in historic Florence, despite the cutting-edge design objects all around us. Three steps up, towards the marble backlit bar and next to art catalogues secured to the roof by iron clamps, I’m drawn to a table that keeps changing: it’s a video art piece by Swiss artist MARCK from Emma’s private art collection, an installation of a lady beneath a cascade, a mesmerizing vision of water on bare skin. And then the drinks appear, a mirage of mixology expertly prepared by barman Patrizio Boschetto, one of the original pioneers of The Fusion Bar (currently closed) and whose employment history resembles the fashion industry (Rome – New York – Paris – London).
First up is a dry version of the barman’s own Giardino di Boboli, light and lovely like a stroll through the princely gardens on the other side of the river, as well as the uber-feminine Lei, served in a plexiglass teacup whose transparent lid releases vapours in a mixologist’s sleight of hand. Exquisite snacks such as chestnut foam flecked with silver flakes and salmon and stracciatella barchette are served alongside the inventive cocktails. Since we’re here “for research purposes”, Emma and Patrizio insist on a second round, which manifests itself in an unusually refined glass with a straw attached containing an opulent rum, chocolate and tequila drink. Tolstoy, as the drink is called, is pure masculinity, like Cuban cigars around a mahogany table in a gentleman’s club, served atop an open book in Cyrillic script, a tribute to the owners.
Koob Experience (as in “book” spelled backwards) might be on the pricier side of mixology in Florence (drinks start at 16 euro), but it comes with a main course of international art and culture. It’s akin to after-hours drinks at a museum café, but infinitely more entertaining. Did I mention the big bonsai tree and that the on-sale artwork rotates? Order a drink and gaze, that’s my suggestion.
Borgo Ognissanti 24R
+39 327 9204658