The Little Bat: London’s new rabbit hole

There’s a new bat in town. Beloved London bar Callooh Callay are all set to open up their sister bar Little Bat on February 26th. What can the barflies of the Big Smoke expect?

The owner of London’s esteemed Callooh Callay, Richard Wynne, will be launching his new bar, Little Bat, on the 26th February. Named after the poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat—recited by the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland—it’s clear from the get go that the quirky Callooh Callay has a true sibling in Little Bat.

A bit Victorian, a bit library

Described as “a bit Victorian and a bit like a library”, expect lots of red and dark-stained wood panelling in a bar roughly the same size as Callooh Callay. Made for ultimate comfort, there are both seats at the bar and booths throughout the venue. Guests can sit underneath a suspended library. There’s even a botanical garden. Expect vintage bits and bobs galore in an eclectic space full of surprises.

The menu incorporates 25 cocktails described as “classics with a twist”. “There’s nothing too scary on the menu,” bar manager Barney Toy tells MIXOLOGY ONLINE. It’s a menu which includes a Gin and Tonic Martini, made with Hendricks gin, tonic reduction, Crème de Violette, rose infused Noilly Prat and tonic bitters, and the Sabio Ananas, made with El Jinador tequila, pineapple & sage puree, lime juice, absinthe, egg white and blue spray. There’s also the Pan Am, the cocktail that Barney competed with at Bacardi Legacy in 2015, which combines Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, Aperol, lemon juice, orgeat, egg white and Angostura spray. If it’s anything like Callooh Callay, expect a regular shakeup of the menu.

According to Toy, their spirits collection is highly “whiskey and gin focused”. “Expect whiskey’s from all around the world – whether it’s Scotland, Japan, the US or elsewhere.” There’s a small selection of food available as well.

Kiwi in London

Bar Manager Barney Toy has moved over from New Zealand for the position, having previously worked at Auckland’s The Gin Room—an acclaimed recreation of a 1920’s gin parlour. He also represented New Zealand at last year’s Bacardi Legacy finals, finishing in the final three. Apart from Wynne, an entirely new team is on decks at Little Bat, with no holdovers from Callooh Callay or its upstairs members bar JubJub.

Shoreditch to Islington

That’s not all that’s new. Shoreditch, the site of Callooh Callay and arguably London’s weekend nightlife capital of late, has been jettisoned for this venture. Owner Richard Brynne has decided to head to Islington this time around.

Located on Islington Park Street, just off Islington’s bustling Upper Street, it’s a new area they’re striking into. They’ve chosen a venue with a past in gastronomy, having been previously home to the Public House restaurant and cocktail lounge.

With a smaller, more local nightlife scene and lots of small businesses in the area, Little Bat is aiming for a true neighbourhood bar feel. As Toy explains, “the Islington customer is different to the Shoreditch one, so we have to cater for that.” Despite these differences, expect the same friendliness and relaxed vibe that Callooh Callay and JubJub are so famous for.

Popup to permanent

A few lucky locals have had a taster already. The team have been running a popup in the venue under the name 54 Islington Park Street—that’s the name of the address—during the months of December and January, before they closed the venue for refurbishment at the end of January.

That’s not to mention the popup that was held at Callooh Callay in the JubJub from the 10th to 14th February. 14 cocktails from the menu were showcased here, with the other 11 set to be unveiled at the official opening. Advance word has been good and having tinkered, tailored and perfected with everything from the libations to the decor, the team are now ready to open up shop. The Little Bat will officially open on Friday 26th February.

Maybe it’s the right time to jump down that rabbit hole?


Foto: Bat via Shutterstock.

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