‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe
– Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll
Clearly, Lewis Carroll enjoyed a drink or two.
And clearly, the people at Callooh Callay respect that, naming their Shoreditch cocktail spot after a line from his famed nonsense poem. The sizeable, low-lit space has dark walls, and is filled with Victoriana touches including an antique gramophone, and an ornate wardrobe (which we’ll come back to later…).
The place has had awards practically thrown at it; an early one including The World’s Best Cocktail Menu, handed out at Tales of the Cocktail (“the Oscars of the cocktail world”). Today, that menu includes such perfectly-blended numbers as The Explorer (with tequila, Japanese plum wine, Campari and vermouth); Rust & Oil (blending two types of rum with Velvet Falernum and Cynar artichoke liqueur) and the apt Jabberwocky Milk (a gin sour with cream, soda and marshmallow syrup). You can soak it all up with a few bar snacks from lobster mac and cheese balls to tuna ceviche and sweet potato and camembert croquettes.
Now back to that wardrobe.
You see, if you ask the bartender kindly, they’ll open it up for you. You can literally climb inside, and find yourself in a secret, private bar area… and then, if you head upstairs from there, you’ll find yourself in a whole other secret bar.
Welcome to the Jubjub.
A smaller, more intimate affair, the walls are adorned with neon wall art, with rock music providing a moody soundtrack to a creative, ever-changing cocktail list. And if it feels like home to you, you can apply for (free) membership, which nets you a front door key and invites to weekly complimentary tastings.
And you will want to compliment them.
NOTE: Callooh Callay is open 6pm-1am, seven days a week, with the Jubjub open from Thurs-Sat. To access the upstairs bar just ask the bartender, but be aware it’s invite only after 10pm. You can find out more on their website HERE.
Callooh Callay | 65 Rivington St, EC2A 3AY
Like drinking in East London? Check out our guide to the best bars in Shoreditch