London is the proud home to Callooh Callay, one of those rare bars which manages the divide between offering excellent classics with a note of eclecticism and a healthy dose of nerd culture. The Jubjub Bar, located in a small room above Callooh, opened one month ago and presents a whole new concept. Time for a visit.
When in Shoreditch, do as the cockneys do. So did we, visited the celebrated Callooh Callay and spoke to PR lady Rebekkah Dooley, who – together with the whole team – created a new concept for the exclusive upstairs area, which reopened as the new designed Jubjub Bar the 7th of May. A talk about change, Japanese Whisky and a stolen flamingo.
What is new about the Jubjub?
Callooh Callay is a bustling bar with an eclectic décor and an electric atmosphere. We wanted to make sure the Jubjub Bar retained all of those qualities, whilst feeling like a bit of a hide away. It’s still fun and exciting, but a little more relaxed and intimate, with seating for around 20 people and four bar stools. The bartender and menu change every 3 weeks, so it’s a great way for the team to express themselves and try out new ideas, and it enables them to learn new skills like pricing up drinks, working out GP’s, getting involved with the menu ideas and working more closely with the guests.
The floor staff enjoy it too as it gives them more time to interact with our patrons, and each time the menu changes they take time to study the drinks and ingredients used, and they have to taste them – obviously. We now have a Guest Relations Manager too: Ali works closely with all patrons and knows most of them by name. If you want to come in to The Jubjub after 10pm, you basically need to make friends with her. The door to the Jubjub is locked and you need a pin code (which changes daily) in order to get in.
What is the story behind?
The Jubjub Bar has been open for as long as Callooh Callay (6 years) but with different concepts. For a year it was used as a pop up space with a different brand, concept and menu each month, and after that we rebranded it as The Upstairs Bar, but we felt it was the right time to bring back the Jubjub Bar – plus our regulars kind of requested it.
Who is bar chef, and who is in the team?
We have a really strong bar team right now and a great dynamic, floor and office staff included. Our General Manager Simon Thompson joined us about 8 months ago from Be at One and our Bar Manager Simon Toohey has been with us for about 3 years – he went back to Australia for a while but he missed us too much and returned last year… My words, not his. On the bar we have Gillian Boyle (formerly of Starwood group and fade street social) Liam Broom (formerly of LCC, Detroit Bar and Bay Restaurant Group), Nathan Shearer (formerly of LCC) and Jakob Lundberg (formerly of Beard to Tail and Boho Mexica).
What is your role in the Jubjub Bar?
I worked at Callooh Callay for 4 years before starting as a freelancer, so now I have them as a client. I joined them from Milk & Honey as the reservationist and was promoted first to the Marketing & Events Manager and then to Marketing, PR & Events Manager. It’s been about 5 years now since I first joined them. My role now with the Jubjub is to promote it and to consult on the menus – Part of my job at Callooh Callay involves designing their menus, for which we won World’s Best Cocktail Menu in 2012.
Your current menu has a strong Japanese focus …
Nathan’s menu was heavily inspired by Japanese Whisky and he chose the brands he wanted to work with – he was very excited when the delivery came through. Each menu has 10 drinks – 5 concept drinks, and 5 friendly drinks. We want to ensure that each menu caters for everyone and that no one feels alienated. For example, to have a menu of 10 whiskey drinks would have been foolish because not everyone likes whiskey, so we ask that the bartenders make sure to cover rum, vodka, gin, bourbon and whisky.
What story is behind the flamingo logo?
We used to have a flamingo in The Jubjub. It wasn’t real, but it looked in. One night someone stole the flamingo, but we had them on CCTV and we had their contact details. We called them, and the flamingo was returned to us. The culprit was too embarrassed to do it themselves so sent a friend, but the flamingo was a bit damaged. I think we gave it to a member of staff to take home, but the logo stuck.
Callooh Callay & The Jubjub Bar
Northern Line: Old Street
Thursday - Saturday: 7pm - 2am
Wednesday & Sunday: 7pm - 1am
Card Payment: Ja