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65 Rivington Street, London, UK
THE FANTASTICAL EAST LONGON HAUNT, Callooh Callay, has clung on to W50BB status this year with the suction of a particularly clingy limpet, extending its stay in our list to four consecutive years. How this stalwart of London’s cocktail scene slipped from 9th and 11th places in the past two years to 49th this time out seems as bizarre as the nonsensical
Lewis Carrol poem from which it takes its name. But no matter, Callooh collected the votes to slip into the list via the back door - or perhaps through its famous wardrobe door.
Nestled in the epicentre of London’s hipster district, Shoreditch, Callooh Callay can’t sit back and watch the trends go by. A predilection for innovation keeps this place fresh and the punters keen. Both décor and drinks go in for regular transformations - this is the chameleon bar that just never runs out of colours.
There are three spaces: The Bar, the lively off-street main room into which you enter; The Lounge, which through its wardrobe entrance offers softer surrounds and table service; and The Upstairs Bar, a carousel of pop-ups and themed events. Trying to describe the latest look is a thankless task - by the time this annual list is published there will be new incarnations of Callooh Callay’s inimitable brand of madness.
But this is not style before substance. Callooh’s bartenders make serious drinks that appeal to the cocktail connoisseur as much as the Shoreditch trendies who want to look like one.
It’s a party place that puts smiles on peoples’ faces - and long let it be that way.