I really love this place. It does get packed out, so it's best to book a table - through the wardrobe if you're lucky. Great for dates, if a little awkward if you end up perching on sofas. Fantastic cocktails, though I've had some duff ones here which knocks a star off. Whisky and cherry and plum brandy is an inspired combo, but I've had a couple that tasted bland, or actively awful. The menu is always huge and thoughtful - once a Pantone colour booklet, once a school yearbook. It gets really buzzy on weekend nights, but still more of a cocktail bar than a meeting people place.
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Fri Aug 10 2012
This area of town isn’t as hip as it used to be, but Callooh Callay is still as much a destination in its own right as it is a hidey-hole to avoid the drink offer-seeking masses. Since opening in 2008, it’s consistently served some of the most innovative cocktails in London, even if the decor has been left behind: the Lewis Carroll/Victoriana theme is partially enforced, but too much noughties Shoreditch irony (a wall of analogue cassettes, for instance) feels somewhat incongruous. The front bar is bustling most nights, so if you want peace and privacy, book a space ‘through the wardrobe’ in the hidden lounge, which is given a tropicalia aesthetic with metal palm trees and mirrored walls. Look past the often painfully punning names (‘Storm in a Thai Cup’, ‘Swizzle Dee, Swizzle Dum’) and you’ll find the cocktails are uniformly excellent. Many employ unusual home-made bitters, cordials and infusions; all have a ‘Drink Me’ quality that makes choosing from the menu tricky. Thoughtful bar snacks, such as deep-fried squid with curry leaves, yogurt and almond, mean you don’t have to leave all night. And in the heart of Shoreditch, that’s not a bad thing.
Callooh Callay 65 Rivington Street
- Venue phone:
020 7739 4781
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Open 6pm-midnight Mon-Wed, Sun; 6pm-1am Thur-Sat. Food served 6-11pm Tue-Sat
Tube: Old Street tube/rail or Shoreditch High Street rail
- 65 Rivington Street
- 020 7739 4781
- 65 Rivington Street
- Callooh Callay
Average User Rating
2.9 / 5
- 5 star:8
- 4 star:6
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:12
Sophisicated cocktails and quirky surroudings - I am a huge fan of their themed bar upstairs, changing montlhy. You can expect anything form a Floridita style daiquiri galore to boozy take on Willy Wonka's paradise. A must-visit for any cocktail aficionado.
I thought the decor was fun and the staff were friendly and helpful - my glass of water replenished often. However the food was a real let-down - the mini burgers had stale bread and the filling was mean, chicken wings ordered by friends left uneaten - all who ordered food felt ripped off. Follow up email to ask about our night didn't compensate or apologise for this which would have been a good move. However, I'd go again - with a full stomach.
I took a few dates here in 2012. Had heard and read great things. I reckon it's worth trying out once, but given the vast number of alternative speakeasy, chic, dimly lit, better staffed options I say why waste your time. I'd booked a table only to receive some flat, cocky remark about my name (not actually bronco billy) when I showed up. Slow service, relatively cramped front room. All the action seemed to be taking place in the back bar behind the curtain - but not sure if that' still the private members area.
Went for my fiancees birthday and was welcomed with a very rude greeting from the doorman. We had a seat booked in the tequila bar, a windowless cramped room which was empty of people and atmosphere. Cocktails were very ordinary for a place which boasts to be 'one of the best in london' someone must have been high when they wrote that review for one of the leading papers. would not go back.
I went there for my birthday and booked a table in the VIP area. My friends bought a cake. I wasn't allowed to eat it there due to health and safety reasons! The manager and staff were far from helpful and quite frankly pretentious. I would NOT recommend this bar to anyone, rude and above their station!
Lovely decor. cool idea but staff are incompetent and rude, not to mention short changing me. I complained. bar manager accused me of lying. never ever will I go back and neither should u visit!!!
I don't understand why customer service is still so appalling in some places in London. Rude staff who are so far up their own bottoms that they can't accommodate you with a simple drink. I just don't understand the point of making your customers feel tiny. Disappointed. Go somewhere with more class, these people need lessons in basic manners.
I used to be a regular here, no more. If your lucky enough not to be harassed by the door staff, I'm sure the person with the his clipboard will do it for you. The lighting, music and drinks are average, come on guys. I will be back as I have had many a good night here, I hope it improves.
Bar is so magical u might feel like in little wonderland..coctails are awsome and staff is actually very nice and friendly.. its worth to go there!
avoid this place like the plague, only go if you enjoy being treated badly by the most pretentious people in the world.
I went to this place a couple of times, trusting TO reviews when it first opened. In both cases I was received by pretentious staff into an even more pretentious bar. I guess that it ticks all the boxes of TO reviewers - "quirky" atmosphere, young pretentious barmans, people wanted to be seen and theme-based. There are a hundred more interesting places to check before venturing in this posh average cocktail bar.
The cocktails here are just fabulous and the list is really very interesting! I heard they have been nominated for best cocktail list in the world amongst a handful of others from London, New York and Sydney and that doesn't surprise me. Don't be scared to ask for a classic though, my Hemingway arrives perfect every time! Weekdays are best as this area turns into Shoreditch-on-sea come Saturday night...
The bar itself is nice. The smoking area and toilets are cool (With the cassette tapes on the wall) And too be honest that's as good as it gets. This whole idea of entering to the next bar/seating area through a wardrobe is a total hype! Its just a normal door... you just walk through...with a wardrobe type exterior. The reason why i give this bar 1 star is ALL due to the customer service and the rudeness of the staff. Pushing past customers, passive aggressively telling you to move (no please or thank you), making you wait for tables you have booked, very unaccommodating. Tried to ruin my birthday as i had 2 extra people with my party and wouldn't give us ONE extra chair.
My girlfriend organised an event here last week and everything was great, from the organisation to the food and drink, service and music. Thankyou!
Far too busy with a 45 minute wait for drinks. Difficult to find a place to stand let alone breathe. Guess they are packing in the customers at the cost of poor service. Shame shame
Two stars for a midweek visit. The cocktails are great. No stars for the weekend, at which point the place becomes a shambles. Still, judging by how rammed it is on a Friday or Saturday night, the majority of the crowd don't mind waiting half an hour for a drink, stepping over eggshells around their precious staff, or not being able to stand anywhere without being in someone's way because the place is so overcrowded. I don't know whether they're aiming for an inclusive or exclusive atmosphere but they fall wide of the mark in either direction here.
Love this place. The decor is cool but for me it’s about the staff and the drinks. I prefer to go early week when it’s not packed. Pull up a stool, chat the the bartenders and have a good drink.
Attended a friend's birthday in the back bar here a while ago, and it was laughably bad. We were told not to go to the bar in the front, but to rely on the waiter service; this was so slow that it meant about an hour between rounds. The "eclectic" furniture was placed uselessly facing nothing; when we tried to move it so we could actually talk to each other while seated, we were told not to; everything was just the way the owners liked it, and who were we mere customers to argue? So we all stood around barely drinking, admiring the furniture instead. Who needs to sit, when you could be looking at half a bath with a cushion in it? A bath, I tell you! Zany. Then at around 10pm, we were all told to leave, as the "second sitting" were expected soon. I've never encountered anything as preposterous as sittings at a bar before; I can only presume it's a vain attempt to manufacture exclusivity, or maybe it was just to rub in our faces the fact that we had not, in fact, ever actually sat. Maybe they just want as many people to see their bath as possible. Either way, I've rarely been as glad to get kicked out of a venue. Avoid.
Nice decor and some fun ideas but has gotten really pretentious. The bar can be totally empty and the guy with the clipboard will tell you all the tables are reserved. Which they have been and will later be full of hen do's or the type of people that put a schedule together for their big night out. The cocktails are ok but you can get much better in nearby places that have a better atmosphere and are friendly.
I can't praise this place highly enough. I had arranged birthday drinks, but more people came than I'd expected. Yet the staff went out of their way to accommodate us without too much fuss, even though it was a busy Friday night. In general, the service was faultless from start to finish, very friendly and attentive. The cocktails were inventive and delicious, bar snacks disappeared within minutes they were so tasty and the general ambiance was relaxed, stylish but without pretension. I would definitely return to Calloo Callay, although next time I'll make sure I book for the right number so as to give the lovely staff an easier time of it! Highly recommended.
Went to CC last night and had a fantastic evening. We were greeting with a big smile upon entering, and shown to a cosy table in the corner. We soon realised we were sitting on an old bath, chopped in half. Beautiful sequined cushions ensured it was perfectly comfortable though, and the exciting décor made the evening all the more enjoyable. The staff were superb, giving us plenty of time to select our cocktails, which were all very tasty - I recommend the popcorn and cola! We stayed for hours and had, by the end, sampled most of the cocktails on the menu! The table service was great, but it is well worth while going up to the bar to see your cocktails being made - it is captivating stuff. My favourite cocktail bar in London right now.
This isn't a bar for everyone. The cocktails cost more than they do down the road, but they taste beter. You have to pay for service, cos it's worth it to be doted on. No one has ever been rude to me at Callooh Callay but then I always call ahead, and am never drunk or demanding.