The green fairy at Callooh Callay

Some of you may remember my last foray into absinthe, when I downed it as a shot, instead of sipping it as is the more conventional way of drinking it.

Callooh Callay got wind of my experiment and invited me down to partake of their Green Hour, drinking the green fairy in the proper fashion. Callooh Callay is a proper little bar hidden in the alleyways of Shoreditch, taking it’s name from the poem Jabberwocky, it’s “non-sensible” as they like to describe themselves.

Walking in, the main floor is frankly quite unassuming, wood floors, bar, some tables and chairs but walk past the velvet curtain and you’ve walked thru the looking glass. Overstuffed, orange pinstriped chairs and sofas that used to be bathtubs along with various knicknacks, victorian paintings, tasseled lampshades, plenty of mirrors and ambient lighting made me feel like I was drinking in a Prague antique shop. Onto the second floor, which was reminiscent of a 1920’s speakeasy and a better setting for my absinthe sipping.

Sitting down at a table, I was faced with a square jar filled with an equally square block of melting ice standing atop 4 metal legs with a tap on each side at the bottom of the glass to let the water slowly drip out. A bottle of Pernod absinthe was produced and slowly poured over a cube of sugar sitting on a slotted spoon over the glass. Then the dripping commenced. I was slightly disappointed that there was no fire involved, I think I may be a bit of a firebug, but the Green Fairy did appear after a few seconds.

After waiting what seemed like forever for the water to drip, drip, drip, we got to try it. Licoricey, herby, it was like drinking Good-n-Plenty ( a childhood candy). I think I prefer the shot method. Perhaps I am too impatient but sitting around sipping watery licorice is just not my thing. Maybe I’m not bohemian enough!

I didn’t leave disappointed though. Callooh Callay specializes in various absinthe cocktails and in keeping with the absinthe theme, I ordered the pun-y cocktail Anise ‘n’ Nephew. Reminds me of the old joke:

A guy walks into a bar and says, “My sister in law just had twins, a boy and a girl. My brother couldn’t get to the hospital so he told me to name them.”

“What’d ya name them?”

“I named the little girl, Denise.”

“And the boy?”

“I named him Danephew.” ba-dah-bump….

ANYway… made up of Jamaican overproof rum, Wray & Nephew, absinthe, velvet falnernum (which I’m not really sure what that is), pineapple juice and lime, garnished with star anise, it was not as strong as I feared it might be. The absinthe was what took centre stage, blending nicely with the pineapple and lime. I can see how this would be a deceptively easy cocktail to down. Now THIS was something I could sip all night long.

Callooh Callay has a long list of ingeniously named cocktails with equally outrageous ingredients and a very cool space to hang out in the heart of Shoreditch. I almost hesistate to tell you where it’s at but as I can’t go there every night, I guess I’ll let you know where it is. Check it out if you want a chilled out, funky evening of drinks. And if you are more sophisticated then the Winesleuth (which I’m sure you are), Callooh Callay will be having another Green Hour on July 13th. Contact them for details.

Callooh Callay is at 65 Rivington St, EC2A 3AY  tel:0207 739 4781



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