Every year the drinks industry compiles a list of the World’s 50 Best Bars, this speakeasy cocktail bar has ranked 4 times!
Callooh Callay is a quirky little cocktail bar tucked away down the cobbled Rivington Lane in Shoreditch, London. This popular speakeasy has a creative and eccentric menu, Lewis Caroll meets Narnia décor and the most inspiring collection of cocktails. After 9 years on the scene and, with a plethora of awards under their belt these guys really know what they’re doing. In fact, I haven’t managed to find another London cocktail bar with as many awards to their name as Callooh Callay.
The main bar is quirky and loud with exposed brickwork and funky antique furnishings and it attracts a super cool crowd. At the weekend the DJ pumps out fantastic tunes that keep everyone dancing until late, but if dancing’s not your thing there are plenty of comfortable looking tables to relax and chat or people watch with friends. Callooh Callay also has a delicious menu (that changes every year with a new theme) and keep on serving until midnight!
Although there’s a lot of buzz about the famous JubJub or Humbug bar upstairs (members key only, though the secret to getting a key is to get to impress the staff and express lots of love for their cocktails), it’s well worth finding a table in the cosy back lounge. The Lounge is mysteriously (here comes the speakeasy bit) located ‘through the wardrobe’. Let the person at the door know you would like drinks in ‘The Lounge’ (booking highly recommended) and you will be whisked away from the buzz of the main bar through a heavy wooden door in the wardrobe - much to the surprise of the wild, beautiful people enjoying their drinks nearby.
The Lounge at Callooh Callay will not disappoint. This place is seriously classy. It’s a quirky mix of late 20thcentury retro and proper old fashioned elegance. At first glance it seems 1920’s art deco, complete with fabulously ornate palm trees, globe lights and gilded mirrors. But closer inspection shows there’s so much more!
A bath tub cut in half serves as a chair for one table, other tables have chocolate box coloured velvet bar stools or 60’s bucket chairs. All the tables are spread out, so although small it doesn’t seem cramped. In fact, it’s easy to believe the room is a lot bigger than it is, until you realise half the room is covered in mirrors and not the doorway to another room (on reflection – excuse the pun – this could have been due to the cocktails consumed when we visited).
Cocktails and Quirkiness
This very intimate space, would be the perfect place to impress on a date. However, don’t be surprised if after a few cocktails you end up chatting to guests at other tables - the place really does feel like a cocktail party rather than a cocktail bar! The Lounge bar is table service only, which adds to the special vibes, and the staff really do look after you - they’re also pretty good at recommending great places to go once their bar has closed!
Cocktails are interesting and inspired, with combinations like bourbon, sherry, orange, and egg white; or a delicious rum infusion with chocolate and anise featuring on their menu at the time of writing. These drinks are seriously wacky, seriously strong and seriously good.
The narrow corridor is decorated loudly in black and white which feels reminiscent of maybe late Matisse or Felix the cat, depending on how many cocktails you’ve (can you see a pattern here?) consumed. Make sure you take a trip to the bathroom – the loos are covered in floor to ceiling cassette tapes – perfect for a retro selfie or two!
I tell you all of this now, although by the time you go it may well have changed. Callooh Callay is famous for reinventing itself, both décor and drinks, but I’m sure each incarnation is even more frabjous than the last - it’s easy to see how this bar has made it onto the World’s 50 Best Bars list several times now!
Click here to read more about our adventures or some of London towns other unusual and quirky nightspots.
Check out Callooh Callay's site, you wont be disappointed.