Callooh Callay


"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

I am almost loath to share what I am about to share. This is mainly due to a selfish desire to keep this gem under wraps, like many good things over exposure may just be its downfall. Nevermind its only Bar!

This was my second visit to Callooh Callay on Rivington Street, London’s East end. The first time I went there was to meet manager and curator Richard Wynn (formerly of Lounge Lover and less exotically Pitcher & Piano). At ten in the morning after the opening press night one can excuse the state of the place and the stench of spilled spirits. I can also therefore be excused my conclusion jumping; surmising that this would be just another faddy Shoreditch booze hole with too many Nathan Barley’s who would probably only go twice.

Maybe it was my mood by I got it really wrong. Last Friday I went straight from work arriving at the worst time for bar frequentation, the weekly drinking equivalent of Diwali. Luckily was there to meet someone much more knowledgeable about drinks than most and he advised my drinks choices and had secured us some seating. But it was the decor that hit me first before the alcool. As suggested by the name Callooh Callay, made up words by Lewis Carol in the poem Jabberwocky, I entered in to a bizarre mashup of furniture and nick-knackery, but not the really standard oh so common mismatched school room chairs oft seen these days. This stuff has clearly been chosen with more of an eye for style and some cash. The tape wall, cassettes set into resin makeup a whole wall and tile the lav. Half a bath makes a cosy two seater, and an army of gramophones line the bar awaiting to be filled with the signature house cocktail (see menu). The nonsensical nature of Lewis poem has been successively translated into interior architecture, smooth.

Drinkwise I first sipped on the ingeniously named Anise ‘N’ Nephew (ingredients: Wray and Nephew overproof rum, Absinthe, Velvet Falnernum, pineapple and lime with a star anise garnish), no idea what Velvet Falnernum is but the mixture of the overproof rum, with its musky outlandish smell beaten down by the freshness of the fruit and polished by the anise in an awesome concoction built upon by the strength of the absinth. And what a great name, using the Wray and Nephew rum and star anise – its worthy of a tabloid hack.

The Ale of Two Cities was probably the most wacky liquid to have ever passed my lips. Served in a baby tankard it is the colour of a milky ale with a generous head to match. No hops in sight however as this sweet velvety innovation is vodka based! (ingredients: 42 Below Vodka, Punt e Mes, Angostura Bitters, apple, lime, Wild nettle cordial and malt syrup) nutty.

The food I have yet to sample but as the light bites and bar snacks do look appealing although not as technically compiled as the drinks list. I will definitely be returning but I suggest you don’t tell too many other people about it…..


Petra Barran said...

Woah Chaz - W&N AND absinthe...terrifying. Good luck with the raviolo - and what the hell is an onion cappucino?

See you next w/e? Me and Jimmy chez MML.


MsMarmitelover said...

Sounds nuts! Must go...

Helen said...

That Ale of Two Cities sounds bizarre - vodka based? Crikey! This place does sound interesting.

gytobot said...

"The nonsensical nature of Lewis poem has been successively translated into interior architecture, smooth"

haha take me there some time sounds insane

gytobot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MsDaijahStylez said...

Love It.