When it comes to cocktail lists, Callooh Callay is no slouch. Over the years the Shoreditch bar's menu has taken a number of imaginative and highly successful forms, from Tube maps to cassette tapes. Its current version is no less ambitious.
The process of creating the 28-strong cocktail list in the form of a sticker book was no small undertaking, and not a brisk one either. Work on the drinks started this year in January, with cocktails completed by April, but the list was only unveiled in September.
Beyond the fun sticker-book concept, this menu reflects a change for Callooh in terms of the drinks themselves, says general manager Simon Thompson. 'There are a lot more homemade cordials and shrubs, for example. We've had to change the bar set up – it's made us rethink the entire bar structure.'
The latest menu encourages guests to try all the drinks on the list to complete their album of stickers, which results in a better sales mix overall. 'It's nice to see a bigger array of drinks going over the bar,' says Thompson. 'It's great for the bartenders, because usually by the end of the cycle they're bored of the two or three most popular drinks. This way everyone's engaged.'
That said, there are a few drinks that have proven more popular than the rest, with Harrison Fords (see spec below) ahead of the pack.
And while there are definitely some interesting techniques and ingredients, the list manages to be fun rather than intimidating. 'The cocktails are in the middle ground in terms of accessibility,' says Thompson. 'Callooh is for the people.'
Creating cocktail lists like Callooh's certainly isn't a cheap process – 10,000 menus and 1,000 of each of the stickers were ordered on the first run and 'they're going fast', says Thompson. 'We work closely with some brands, and we got some help. But I turned down many of them as well, to keep the menu as neutral as possible. I could have done a lot more deals.'
Glass: Nick & Nora
Garnish: Lemon peel
Method: Shake, strain into glass, and squeeze lemon oils.
40ml Ford's gin
20ml lemon juice
15ml apricot liqueur
15ml lady grey syrup
5ml Peychaud's bitters