Sandwiched between the hipster haven of Shoreditch and the tourist trap of Tower Hill, Whitechapel is the jewel in the crown of London’s East End nightlife. We’ve listed five of Whitechapel’s finest watering holes to get you started.
Discount Suit Company
Tucked away under an anonymous clothes shop on the edge of Petticoat Lane, Discount Suit Company is the worst-kept secret you’ll be glad we let you in on. The converted tailor’s-cum-cocktail bar has a real speakeasy feel, with dim lighting, wooden floorboards, and mismatched furniture that hints at its sartorial past. Though the tailor’s dummies are long gone, style is still very much the order of the day at Discount Suit Company, and the cocktail menu offers a small but perfectly formed (and beautifully presented) selection. Our personal favourite is the Piña Fumada – a smoky, mescal-based beauty that’s right at home in the candlelit cool. Be warned, though, that Discount Suit Company fills up fast – so get there early to enjoy the intimate atmosphere and Northern Soul soundtrack.
Unremarkable from the outside, behind the doors of The Oliver Conquest lies a veritable Aladdin’s Cave for gin lovers. The collection began with the pub’s opening in 2010 and has been steadily growing ever since to include 300 local, global, unusual, and obscure varieties of gin. With tastings, master classes, and talks for each featured ‘Gin of the Month,’ a new tipple is never hard to come by, and the very knowledgeable (and very friendly) staff is always happy to help. The Oliver Conquest’s very own blend is available by the bottle, too.
For quirky character and craft beer (two staples of the East London scene), look no further than Indo Bar. Wedged inconspicuously into a corner of Whitechapel Road, Indo nonetheless has the kind of bohemian vibe that feels more continental European than East End. Dark but with great décor (check out the amazing collection of memorabilia at the bar), Indo manages to feel cool without falling prey to pretension. There’s also an excellent jukebox and occasional live music and DJs, making Indo the perfect location for chilled weekend drinks. If you’re hungry, the pizzas aren’t bad, either.
In pride of place on Whitechapel Road is the East End institution, The Blind Beggar. Famously the favoured haunt of local anti-heroes Ronnie and Reggie Kray, The Blind Beggar has a rich (if questionable) history that includes a gangland murder, the birth of brown ale, and the founding of the Salvation Army. Trivia aside, however, The Blind Beggar has also won accolades in its own right. Boasting an impressive outdoor space that was named the best outdoor/smoking area in London, the pub’s popular with locals for its friendly feel – perhaps surprisingly, considering its former clientele!
Apples & Pears is about everything you’d expect from an East London cocktail den. Behind the colourfully graffitied shutter, Apples & Pears is all exposed brickwork, modern art, and neon lights, and the comprehensive cocktail list more than matches in substance what the bar offers in style. Extensive, too, is the list of events, with live music most nights ranging from Alt-Folk Open Mic to weekly showcases for female artists. Our top tip, though, is to head over on Friday nights for the mash up/flashback club night ‘Redux:Remix,’ best enjoyed with an Apples & Pears signature cocktail in hand.