We were ready to embark on our cocktail crawl and headed across town to the first destination.
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
|This way to the Thrills|
The Whistling Shop
So, it was now 8:30. We had 9:00 reservations at Callooh Callay, but the original plan was to go to the Whistling Shop before that. We debated about whether we could really squeeze it in, and rather rashly, decided we could and we would. In all honesty, we couldn’t, but we did it anyway. We walked up to Worship Street, walking much further up and farther away from the populated area than I was expecting. We walked in and I instantly regretted having spent so long in Scaredy Cat Town and missing out on being able to make the most of this place. It was all dark wood and tea lights, and even though it didn’t have a hidden entrance, walking inside made you feel like you were entering some tucked away, little known place. We told the guy who greeted us that we were on a tight schedule and needed to get a drink as quickly as possible. They asked us why the rush and when we told them, agreed that we really shouldn’t miss out on those reservations and were fully behind getting us served and out again as quickly as possible. The cocktail list sounded amazing. They take a ‘scientific’ approach to cocktailing making, apparently experimenting with different flavour combinations in their laboratory. Many of the cocktails include ingredients like “WS2 exhaustion tonic”, which are mixtures of their own invention and require a glossary at the back of the menu to figure out what they are. We wanted to make as much of the choices available as we could, so we ordered different drinks to each other - House Gin Fizz and the Panacea.
House Gin Fizz: Tanqueray gin, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, vanilla salt, orange bitters, soda
Panacea: Compass Box whisky, honey and lavender shrub, lemon juice, sage dust.
Yes, sage dust.
Both were enjoyable to drink and had an interesting taste, with a creamy topping, but I think Alison and I preferred the Panacea, probably because it was so unlike any other drink we’d had before. The gin fizz was nice (and very quaffable once we realised we’d gone past our imposed 10 minute time limit) but it was just a gin fizz. Nothing as cool as sage dust in it. The cocktails backed up my instinctive reaction that we should have spent more time here. The downside is that the drinks are quite pricey, and the place was eerily empty. There was one other group in there, but otherwise the place was dead. I assume this is because it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, even though Shoreditch is only a few streets away.
We raced out of there and into the night again. In totally the wrong direction. We came out onto a street I had hoped was going to be either Bishopsgate or Great Eastern and was in fact Moorgate. My sense of direction is obliterated once I drink and Alison doesn’t know the area. A taxi came by and we made the executive decision to get in it. We told him the street name and the venue. It was 9:05. He hadn’t heard of Callooh Callay but he did know the street. Two minutes later, he pulled over, stopped the clock and confessed he couldn’t remember how to get there. 30 seconds later and he’d dredged his memory and we were on our way again.
|Cassette tapes are used as wallpaper|
The original plan was to move on to yet another cocktail bar (Ninety Eight bar and lounge), but we were so comfortable there, the drinks were coming at a pleasing rate and were doing their job on our sobriety so we just stayed there instead until about 12:00.
But we couldn’t stay there all night – we had dancing on the agenda. So we walked round to The Book Club. I’ve already been here a couple of times, they have quite a varied programme of nights on. I’d been there for a hip hop mashup night hosted by Scroobius Pip and I went to Bookstock, the street party they hosted. So I thought their Rock n roll Saturday night would be worthwhile. Unfortunately, so did a lot of other people and when we got there, there was a not insubstantial queue. We considered our other options, especially as time was ticking on, it was £5 entrance fee and it only stayed open until 2. But that was the case with most of the other places I could think of so we waited it out, got in and made the most of the hour and a half we had in there. We befriended these three guys who were in the queue in front of us, and then turned up at the bar when we were, and we bebopped about a bit with them. All too quickly the lights were being turned up and we had to leave. I never had the slightest intention of going home so early and had scoured the internet to find somewhere to finish our night. I came across somewhere I’d never heard of but fit exactly the bill. Originally I had planned that we would go to The Bathhouse in Liverpool Street, only to find that they were closing two weeks before I planned to go. They play rock and roll/retro music and now I was in the mood for that kind of thing. The Book Club happened to do it, but as we’ve just covered, only stayed open until 2. I needed more. And I needed it to be within easy reach of Shoreditch so that we didn’t waste time and money getting there. It took me a while, but I finally unearthed Ye Olde Axe.
Ye Olde Axe
Apparently this place is a strip club. It’s just up the road from Brown’s so I can believe that. It also has a phenomenally large bouncer, which I consider evidence of stripping taking place. But when the clock strikes midnight, that element of it shuts down and it turns into a rockabilly venue. And it stays open until 6 am(ish). We headed up there, with a new addition to the party (one of the guys we’d met at The Book Club. I’d heard that this is where everyone heads when all the other venues have shut so I was a little worried we wouldn’t get in, or it would be too crowded to be enjoyable, but my fears were unwarranted. It’s an odd venue. A bit like the Horse & Groom, it’s clearly just a pub (I think I remember beams and banquettes), that happens to stay open late, plays great music and people dance. At least, I think they do. I would ask the honourable reader to remember that my companion and I had started drinking at about half four in the afternoon, and so by the time we reached Ye Olde Axe, my memory faculties weren’t firing on all cylinders. I know they were playing music I liked, from the 50s and 60s era, but the only song I can actually remember is ‘I Just Want to Make Love to You’, chiefly because Alison and I engaged in a bit of playful lesbian writhing. It’s understandable – that song is pure sex. My abiding memory is of thinking this place was great and knowing it was now going to become my official ‘go to’ place for the after hours in Shoreditch.
Once again we stayed until basically, we were made to go, and then we went our separate ways. The night had finished, over 12 hours after it had begun.
Sunday 25th September
As a footnote, I want to add that we spent the afternoon and evening of Sunday at The Book Club again. It doesn’t get its own entry because ‘if it’s not on the list, it’s not going in’ but it’s worth a mention. We discovered they do bloody lovely Sunday Roasts. And they’re bloody huge as well. My friend and I shared one and didn’t even finish it between us. They also do ‘DIY’ bloody marys so you can make them as spicy as you like. Apparently they play blues in the downstairs bit starting from about 7 but it was 9 pm before I remembered we had wanted to see what that was like, and we were pretty comfortable where we were. I’d highly recommend it.