The Interview: Sean Ware

So it’s onwards and upwards with our tradition of interviewing a bartender at each of the venues where the society convenes! October’s event was held in the JubJub bar at Callooh Callay and was hosted by the award winning Mr Sean Ware. Sean is a multifunctional sort of chap who splits his time between duties as bar manager, bartender and award-winning mixologist. The eclectic style of Callooh Callay might lead you to expect Sean to be some kind of Mad Hatter incarnation. Not so. Despite his affiliation with one of London’s hottest cocktail venues, Sean is a very ‘normal’ and approachable character. Instantly likeable, he’s the sort of bartender who puts you at ease upon your arrival and makes you want to stay and drink one more than you really should. I begin our chat by asking how Sean would describe Callooh Callay, as the many attempts to categorise this bar invariably draw comparisons with Alice in Wonderland and Narnia. Although they clearly have an influence on the bar, Sean explained that their first priority was simply to produce excellent drinks with a bit of fun on the side. He talks a lot about drinks being fun during our talk but I can’t help but feel this undervalues the quality of the drinks Sean and his team serve. Later on, Sean clarifies my thinking by explaining that while the quality of drinks on offer in London is currently extremely high, he thinks it’s important to maintain the fun element as well. Reflecting on the hushed reverence some of London’s finer hotel bars create, I’d agree he has a point. Our conversation moves to Seans’ drinking preferences. He admits to being a ‘classics’ man when drinking at home (isn’t everyone?) and absolutely never runs out of gin and rum. Whilst tending to a hot gin punch gently warming on a bar-top stove, Sean describes his best ever drinking experience to me. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can repeat most of it but if I say ‘Soho’, ‘bar’, ‘wine’, ‘jagermeister’, ‘Dave Grohl’ and ‘Led Zeppelin’ I think you can paint the picture rather nicely! The man certainly has a wild side… My time with Sean was cut short by the arrival of several LCS members and so the conversation moved to more general and less potentially litiginous subjects such as the impending London Cocktail Week and our respective plans. But Sean had gotten me thinking, we all...
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October: Callooh Callay

The first meeting of the London Cocktail Society at 69 Colebrooke Row went so well that it seemed impossible the next one could be anything other than a let down.  Luckily our second hosts, Callooh Callay were, more than up to the job and provided such a different atmosphere there could be no suffering by comparison. Visiting Callooh Callay for the first time is quite an experience. The front bar is fairly typical ‘Shoreditch’ in style with eccentric lighting and random furniture dotted around. But then you realise the wardrobe in the corner is not just for effect – it’s actually a portal to another bar, with a short corridor taking you to a pop art styled lounge. This chi-chi retreat itself contains another hidden entrance behind a curtain, leading on to a staircase.  Curiouser and curiouser… At the top of the staircase is a locked door, entry to which is by drinking a shrinking potiona members key (membership open to anyone, so long as they appreciate fine spirits and mixed drinks). Inside is where the journey through Wonderland ends,  at the ever so civilised and intimate Jub Jub bar. Sean Ware was our host for the evening, which was pretty heroic considering he’d just come out of hospital. He’d created a menu especially for us, giving a potted history of drinking in the capital through the last two hundred years. After Sean had given an informal talk-through of the menu with interesting trivia on the drinks’ origins and historic setting, we got down to the important business of working our way through the list: Hot Gin Punch (Hendricks Gin, pineapple, Madeira wine, citrus, honey, winter spices) A traditional winter warmer, punches were hugely popular in Georgian and Victorian times, when it was safer to drink alcohol than water. This version from Sean is a modern take  on the formula. John Collins The original Collins as made with Genever giving a nice pungent depth to an otherwise refreshing classic. Since this version got overtaken in popularity by the Tom Collins – originally with Old Tom gin – the John Collins is now commonly made with whisky.  This old verse from the early 1800s says it...
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