Spencer Large’s Top 5 East End Boozers
Spencer Large, bar manager at Nuala, shares his top 5 pubs in London’s East End. He told us, ‘I’ve always been a big fan of decent pubs with a bit of something about them, not necessarily cocktail driven, but with an interesting or surprising element.’
The Dove, Broadway Market. Spencer says, ‘A great spot in the heart of Haggerston with an extensive beer list and decent Thai food mixed with pub classics. A selection of board games to dabble in add some free entertainment in a chilled but cosy environment. I know there’s not much consistency in the way of a theme here, but it’s always lively, always homely and offers a good selection of products at reasonable prices.
Plus if you start feeling fancy, Off Broadway is on the same street and does a pretty good whiskey sour amongst other cocktails. A good spot to head to after last orders.’
The Dove, 24-28 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ
The Well & Bucket, Bethnal Green Road. Spencer says, ‘Like The Dove, there’s plenty of draught beer and bottles listed on an extensive menu, but that’s where the similarity ends. Being noticeably rowdier with moody lighting make it feel a little more debauched, and punters tend to stay here until closing time at midnight. The bar staff seem pretty clued up and can recommend drinks based on flavour profiles if reading menus isn’t your thing, and even if it is, the tiny font may force you to converse…
Nonetheless, a decent whisk(e)y selection and a solid cocktail bar downstairs (5CC) along with a great bar food offering (including their trademark oysters) and heated outdoor space put this up there as one of my favourites in London.’
The Well & Bucket, 143 Bethnal Green Road, E2 7DG
Photo: Ewan Munro
The Pride of Spitalfields, Brick Lane. Spencer says, ‘Not the place you go if you want bells and whistles, but the last stand against the gentrification of the area sits here. Tremendous value on their whole offering adds to the feel of a proper London boozer, and the old school carpet and velvet upholstery just add to its charm without even trying. Brightly lit and often filled with locals spilling out onto the quiet side street, a place like this has become a rarity in these parts, which really defines it as something different.’
The Pride of Spitalfields, 3 Heneage Street, E1 5LJ
Mother Kelly’s, Paradise Row. Spencer says, ‘Well located on a small strip of bars including Sager & Wilde and LCC, Mother Kelly’s is sat in typically trendy settings under a railway arch, and also possesses an off-licence, meaning you can buy one of their extensive craft beers for take away if you’re not in the mood to mingle.
Tough to categorise as a classic boozer with its minimalist design, but the beer offering from numerous breweries worldwide makes it difficult to leave out of this list. They also have food vendors making an appearance out the front every Thursday to Sunday, so you can soak up some of your beer consumption.’
Mother Kelly’s, 251 Paradise Row, E2 9LE
The Sun Tavern, Bethnal Green Road. Spencer says, ‘The closest thing to a cocktail bar on this list (minus the one attached to the Well & Bucket), The Sun Tavern is somewhat of an industry hotspot and treads a fine line on what could be considered a boozer by dabbling in mixed drinks and punches, pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum from Pride of Spitalfields.
However, this said, standing, drinking and ordering at the bar is all encouraged here, plus a wide range of visible beer taps on the back bar constantly remind you that their focus isn’t necessarily on cocktails. A decent Irish whiskey list with specialisation in Poitin — an unaged spirit from Ireland — add some extra layers to their offering and ensure decent variety for a good night’s drinking.’
The Sun Tavern, 441 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN