Hackney’s quirky character is best experienced by night, in one of the neighbourhood’s many drinking holes. Avoid traipsing the east of London after dark in search of the best artisanal tipple with Culture Trip’s handy roundup of the five best bars in the area.
The bar in this cabinet of curiosities features as exemplary cocktail mixology menu. It’s not a place for the easily spooked, though, as it is stacked with an eccentric collection of items, which range from the absurd to the macabre. Downstairs you’ll find mummies of cats, human skeletons, preserved animals, Dodo bones and many more fascinating objects – all arranged with a deliberately haphazard manner. Once you’ve had your fill, head upstairs for the project artichoke or shrunken head cocktails (far more appetising than they sound) surrounded by yet more oddities.
This venue, dating back to around 1729, is one of Hackney’s most famous and popular watering holes. Downstairs is a traditional pub while the top floor, reachable via a spiral staircase, is a plush cocktail lounge and restaurant. It underwent a revamp a few years ago, which saw the shabby chic decor updated with exposed brickwork, vintage mirrors and mismatched furniture in keeping with the aesthetic of its Broadway Market surrounds. It also serves up a mean Sunday roast (book ahead to avoid a long wait) and its prime position on opposite London Fields means it’s always buzzing – particularly on a summer’s day.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, French, American, German, Belgian, $$$
Located under a giant cinema sign that frequently features different slogans, this dimly-lit basement cocktail bar in Dalston is the perfect place for a romantic date. The bar is 1920s-themed with distressed walls, antiques and reclaimed furniture. It features an ever-changing menu of tasty cocktails served in original 1940s milk bottles and old tin cups – characteristic of this hipster area – and there are also plenty of craft beers on offer. The intimate atmosphere and welcoming staff makes Ruby’s Bar & Lounge a good choice on a night out.
Modelled after a bar in New York’s East Village, this place has recreated a slice of New York right on Broadway Market. The red walls and curved bar give this small but cozy venue a welcoming, neighbourhood dive-bar feel. With live jazz downstairs and friendly staff serving delicious cocktails and Mexican street food, Off Broadway is a great combination of East Village meets East End on a Friday night.
People’s Park Tavern in Victoria Park has one of the best beer gardens in London. The colourful outdoor space, which has plenty of seats beneath strings of twinkling lights, is always bustling, and the in-house microbrewery produces some delightfully original beers. Previously known as the Britannia, this pub is a must-visit during those long summer nights. There’s crazy golf, BBQs, quiz nights, music and board games to keep you entertained.