The Dolls House, Islington

Type of Bar: Members, Late Night
Damage££
Ideal for: Night Cap, Small Groups, Party

 

In a fantastic display of impermanence, the exit of Islington’s House of Wolf and Hoxton Square’s Dead Doll’s Club means the latter possesses the former’s space – manifesting as the all new Dolls House!

Doll House. Dolls House. Doll’s House. Confusing syntax.

 

Now before we go further, I’d like to clarify that Highball Hoodoo never had any intention of covering members clubs, since the Hoodooist’d like all our reviews to be of venues that are easily accessible.

However we are willing to make an exception for DH since the ground floor Parlour is open to the public, and that membership is easily attained by filling out a form, and bringing a bottle of the club’s requested spirit on your first visit: List found HERE

Dolls House Islington

Spaced over three floors, the ground floor public Parlour is a large open space with a stage – the launch night opened the stage up to the awesome Kansas Smittys to entertain the crowd – shame about the repetitive fire alarms. With a decent sized bar, no complaints about this space that provides us with jazz bands till 4AM.

 

The first floor provides us with two intimate private rooms: the Drawing Room and Library. The Drawing Room is a slightly larger space than the Library, with windows open to the Islington Town Hall. Both make most of their space by eliminating décor in favour of hand-illustrated walls, which left the table divided as to whether or not we’d prefer furniture instead. The Library is where we found ourselves most comfortable, though we’d wish our bearded bartender would teach his beardless colleague the secret of stirring a cocktail without causing such a racket. Canapes were sparse, which was tragic.

 

Finally, the upstairs member’s-area-after-dinner, the Ballroom, is a beautiful space. Fogged mirrors, decent seating, gorgeous chandeliers, it’s not a large space, but a stunning one.

 

Dolls House Islington Negroni

Dolls House Negroni

Menu-wise, options are limited (9 in total), but very decently priced. Think Negronis, Old Fashioneds, Aviations, et al – all classics. Flavour-wise, decent. Glad to see Antica Formula used in the Negronis, Old Fashioneds were – for some unfathomable reasons – only being served on the top floor bar and not in the Library. Bartenders also refuse to make any classics off menu, which is the first time I’ve ever really encountered such a philosophy. The rules here stopped making sense after a bit.

Except for one bartender, service is half-hearted. Exhausted. With complete lack of interest.

I sense I have been using the word ‘decent’ an awful lot. Because that’s exactly what the Dolls House is. Decent. A *shrug* and pout. A friend on the top floor caught a total of one canapé.

Dolls House Islington

The sadly lacking number of late night cocktail bars in the area means that your major options past midnight is either the Dolls House or Pisco Embassy (Click HERE for Review!) – although past 10PM non-members expect to be charged 5 pounds for entry – don’t worry members, you can bring 3 non-member friends along.

Although then I must ask – why? Other than the late night opening, there I very little I find particularly fascinating about the venue, and it’s incredibly limited menu.

Some things are just… Decent.

 

Drinks: *** (Although risking a ** with tiny menu)
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ** – *** (Depending with whom you’re dealing)

 

The Dolls House

181 Upper Street, Islington,
London N1 1RQ.

http://www.thedeaddollsclub.com/Islington/

The JubJub @ Callooh Callay, Shoreditch

Type of Bar: Tiny, QuirkyMembers?
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups
Callooh Callay has become a Shoreditch institution over the past few years, but recently there has been discussion on what to do with the Upstairs Bar, aka the JubJub. Do we make it members only again? Do we give make it members only after 10 PM? (Free) membership will kick in in the summer, at which point it will become members only after 10PM, whilst open to the public before then.

So we’re gonna tell you what you need to know before any of that comes in the way of your evening’s plan.

The JJ @ CC gets a separate article because of its separate cocktail list by manager Matt Fairhurst; yes, its list is different from the first two rooms on the ground floor. The menu is shorter, but typically Callooh Callay.

The bar-in-a-bar-in-a-bar  itself is tiny, though not necessarily intimate; it fits a lot of people in. It has CC’s traditional sense of décor, large teal and hardwood sofas alongside wooden stools against purple walls decorated with massive pieces of art from the Pure Evil gallery: like pin up girls on a beach against a nuclear explosion (?). It’s actually a very relaxed little space.

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Drinks wise, there is no trend per se, but we see a degree of experimentation with flavour with CC’s signature quirkiness. For example, the Rum and Coke (aka. Smokey Cokey), is El Dorado 12yr rum with coke reduction and Fernet Branca.

We began with the Fernet Me Not is described as ‘floral’ for some reason. Cucumber, Tanqueray gin, lemon, topped with fizz. We don’t get much of the Fernet Branca, but the cucumber and the notes of cucumber in the gin stand out the strongest, almost ultimately. With the fizz we get a wonderfully refreshing drink that is simple, traditional, but effective.

Holy Guacamole, has mezcal, lime juice with blended avocado, coriander and chilli to make a spring-green cocktail very reminiscent of Casita’s Tequila con Verdita shot. The avocado brings a velvety texture to the drink, the coriander and chilli being rather subtle and just adding a little spring in its step. The mezcal is the star of the show ultimately, with its smokiness. Bright, spry, this cocktail is perfect to perk you up in the evenings.

The Fig Shrubble in Little Cynar which brought Agricole rhum with fig shrub, sweet vermouth and Cynar artichoke liqueur bitter – of whose flavours the most prominent was the Cynar and sweet vermouth, surprisingly! It certainly wasn’t unpleasant, but not what one expected, either.

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Service is swift and attentive, in such a tiny space, it really has to be. Sitting at the bar feels a bit uncomfortable and cramped though, so I’d definitely request being at the tables. The low, backless chairs may provide a bit of difficulty if you’re spending a long time there.

The Jub Jub provides a very similar look to the rest of Callooh Callay in terms of décor and cocktails. As for experience, it is, thankfully, less crowded than the first two rooms – which are the two things that often makes me cross the street to NOLA when on Rivington Street. In many ways, this contributes to the argument to bring the JubJub back to members only status. The only way to avoid making it members only, I think, is to make sure that only the smallest groups of people can make bookings. Whatever the decision CC makes, the JubJub is still worth trying out when possible!

Drinks: ***, Arguably ****
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ****

The Jub Jub,
Upstairs @ Callooh Callay

65 Rivington Street, Shoreditch
London EC2A 3AY

http://www.calloohcallaybar.com/