Callooh Callay has been a firm favourite of mine for a while, so apologies that it’s taken me so long to get a post live! But to be honest, Callooh Callay is pretty well known in the cocktail world, with countless awards to its name – nominations for World’s Best Bar 2013, winner of World’s Best Cocktail Menu 2012, and rated 9th Best Bar in the World 2012. So it’s not just me who raves about it!
Tucked away on an East London side street, just past Tramshed and the trendy boutiques of Rivington Street, you’ll see a neon sign with two interlocking ‘C’s. Make a beeline for it, and you will be rewarded by the finest bartenders serving delectable drinks in a stunning interior. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem, Callooh Callay invites drinkers to adventure into the unexpected.
But there is more than meets the eye as you enter Callooh Callay’s bar. The first room you enter is fairly small, but beautifully furnished, and always buzzing with people. Against the back wall is a huge mahogany wardrobe. I strongly suggest you start channelling C. S. Lewis and go through that wardrobe.
This is where you enter cocktail Narnia, finding yourself in a lounge furnished in plush velvet, with the odd vintage palm tree here and retro chandelier there. The lounge takes bookings, so you can reserve a table and enjoy table service, with some of London’s best beverages being delivered direct to your table (cocktails are ~£10 each).
Oh and I haven’t even started telling you about the ever-changing upstairs bar – an exciting and exclusive space, bursting with rare spirits and limited edition releases that you will struggle to find anywhere else in the city. The theme and décor of the upstairs bar change regularly. I’ve visited in the past when it was a candy shop, with jars of sweets on every surface and an edible drinks menu that referenced confectionery at every turn; Ciaran tasted the rainbow with a Skittles martini, and I drank a whisky cocktail from a Green & Black’s chocolate egg!
The current incarnation is the Jubjub Bar – another reference to Jabberwocky? – and features artworks from the Pure Evil gallery, oversized plush baroque furniture with a modern edge, and a great easy listening soundtrack.
Ten days ago, Chris, Juliet and I drank countless whisky cocktails – the names of which I can’t remember – but they tasted fabulous (hence why we probably drank more than we should have!). The snack of toasted almonds we ordered was less impressive – more burnt than toasted unfortunately, though adorably served in a vintage teacup.
Dates – you can book a table and impress your squeeze with a trip through the wardrobe.
Callooh Callay is also great for a big night out – the front bar gets buzzing with good looking twentysomethings, the soundtrack is good and the atmosphere is fab. For a more sedate affair, book a table in the back or upstairs lounges, but for a party, just rock up to the front bar (don’t arrive too late, as the bouncers won’t let you in if it’s too busy).
Keep an eye out for…
The menus in the front bar are always quirky – in the past I’ve ordered from a college year book, from a cocktail tube map, and from a mix-tape leaflet!
And for dinner before/afterwards?
MEATmission is close by – for giant burgers, dirty chips and photobooth madness…