Top 50 Cocktail Bars

Get to know: Callie Thirsk

'This is it. This is what I want to do.'

Charli Tomney | 20/05/2024

Name: Callie Thirsk

Pronouns: she/her

Job title: Owner, Fox & Chance

Awards or accolades: Sipsmith Cygnus Comp finalist, Best Cocktail bar in the Midlands CLASS nomination, and Midland’s Best Cocktail Bar at the MFDH Awards

Key skills: Back of house legend (ask me about my Health & Safe manuals any day…) and the Hostess with the Mostest.

What got you into cocktail bars?

I was fresh out of uni and felt a bit lost in life when I made an impulse decision to move to London. After a few depressing job interviews, I went on a night out to Be At One and fell in love with the energy of the venue and the passion of the bartenders. We came for one drink and stayed all night, and I remember saying to my friend, “This is it. This is what I want to do.” Two weeks later, I had my first shift and that was that!

How many years have you worked in the industry?

I started in Be At One in 2015, but I’d worked at the student union during uni and at some bars back home during uni. So, I suppose it’s been over a decade now!

What makes a great cocktail bar?

Attention to every detail! The best thing to do is think about every moment of guest interaction with the bar. This starts with the first time they hear about it, whether that be a Google search, an Instagram ad, or a recommendation from a friend, and continues throughout their experience as a guest. Making sure that every moment of their experience is smooth and enjoyable is key. And the biggest contributing factor, of course, is building a great team to help make it all a reality.

What do you enjoy most about the industry?

The people – on either side of the bar. The greatest part of every part of any bar I’ve worked in is the teams I’ve been lucky enough to work with. I also love getting to make a guest’s day by giving them a great experience.

What’s a signature drink of yours?

Not sure I have one yet, but watch this space…

What does being a Top 50 Cocktail Bar mean to you?

The wealth of opportunities we’ve had available to us since being on the list has been of immeasurable importance to us. The network and connections we’ve been able to build from it have taught us so much and nourished the business beyond words. It’s pushed us to be better day by day.

Favourite drink?

Airmail – rum, honey, and champagne. What’s not to love?

What is the best cocktail bar you’ve ever visited?

An incredibly tough question! There’s so many great ones. I do have a soft spot for Lucky Liquor in Edinburgh. I always swear I’ll stop for one drink and end up staying all night.

What do you enjoy most about working at Fox & Chance?

The pride of being able to make a guest smile by giving them a great experience and knowing the part I was able to play in that.

What’s a fad in cocktails that you hate?

Prioritising aesthetics over taste!

What does the future hold for Fox & Chance?

So many things! We’ve managed to get some amazing takeovers and other collabs in the calendar this year, all of which are more than we ever imagined possible when we opened. We’ve got some big ideas in the pipeline, and I’m excited to see which we can make happen! Only way is up!