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Ph: Mariana Valle Lima

Uni: To infinity and beyond

The new bar by the city's most famous barmaid looks like a spaceship which can only fit nine people. Get ready for Uni's cocktails: an "orchestra" of flavours.

Teresa David
Escrito por
Teresa David

This article was published on Lisbon by Time Out newspaper, January 2023 edition.

Constança Cordeiro's mind never stops. "I need fire, to motivate myself, to motivate my team, to do new things," says the barmaid at the brand new Uni. But to get here she needed to know how to invent the wheel again. "Before the wheel existed, no one had the slightest idea what the wheel was, nor fire, or real innovations. So I figured 'if I want to create something new I can't look around me, I have to think inside and deeply'," she continues.

First of all, and so as not to mislead anyone, it is important to stress that the new cocktail bar by Constança, who caught everyone’s eye in 2018 with Toca da Raposa (Chiado), has no non-alcoholic drinks or classic cocktails like negronis or margaritas. What it does have are unique creations. It is to this innovative, special trait that it owes its name, which comes from "uniflavour". "When you eat pizza you know it has wheat, tomato sauce and cheese, but you're not analysing the flavours individually. Suddenly, it tastes like pizza. The idea here was exactly that: a drink with 10 to 15 ingredients, where none of them dominates the stage, but rather the orchestra combined creates a new flavour," she explains.

The idea first came about in 2021. Yes, that introspection was important, but knowledge of the past was also necessary. "At Toca da Raposa we work a lot with natural products and wild plants. We already knew the flavour extraction techniques, which made the job easier. In other words, to create Uni I already knew how to extract the 80 ingredients we have on the menu. It was just an orchestra."  

And even before we taste the cocktails we already know it's going to be an out-of-this-world experience. This small bar, which seats only nine people, is a kind of spaceship: white curtains are used instead of walls and the table is shaped like a meteorite. 

Mariana Valle LimaBenae Jessa (16€)

The original and colourful menu includes the Benae Jessa (€16), a mineral, acidic, wild and eccentric cocktail, as the profile says. "It's my masterpiece. The pink colour comes from the dragon fruit, and then you have seaweed, toasted rice, a fermented kiwi, a lichen macerate, shells and stones from the beach…" she says. But there is more. The Rue (€16), black, is bittersweet, herbal, fresh and bubbly; the Shaia (€16), more tropical, is light, refreshing and "yummy". There's an amuse bouche to go with it and the bill comes with a surprise - some denture gummies. 

Rua de O Século, 204, Bairro Alto, Lisbon. Thu-Sun 06.00pm-02.00am

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