There are many, many places to drink the night away around Hoxton and Dalston. But, with Christmas nightlife madness in full spate, most of them are slightly terrifying. We asked Johnny and Daniel, front-of-house duo extraordinaire (Clove Club, Ten Bells) to draw us up a map of drinking holes for civilised Christmas cheer.
Danger of Death
202 Brick Lane, London E1 6SA (020 7065 6806, dangerlondon.com)
Hidden beneath Brick Lane, Danger of Death feels quite naughty, with just a handful of booths for two, and a curtained corner for snogging in. It’s like a miniature Milk & Honey (same owners), and the cocktails are every bit as expert.
‘This is a proper speakeasy,’ says Daniel. ‘They’ve got it completely nailed: the vibe-o-meter was going nuts! Had the best Sazerac ever in here.’
9 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU (020 7613 0325, happinessforgets.com)
Seriously good cocktails and a sexy atmos – that’s what they all say, but Happiness Forgets really is the business. The bartenders have won themselves an international reputation, and are Editer favourites. Try a Louis Balfour, made with Talisker, Amer Picon and vintage port, and you’ll be wowed, too.
‘Amazing cocktails in a cool, snug room,’ says Johnny. ‘And there’s no gimmicky speakeasy entrance either, ie: you don’t have to dress up as a kangaroo and climb into microwave to get in! Just really great.’
Duke’s Brew & Que
33 Downham Road, London N1 5AA (020 3006 0795, dukesjoint.com)
A newish über brew pub just off Kingsland Road, serving southern-style pulled pork and beef ribs (not quite Pitt Cue, but not bad), and bottled and draught beers from Brooklyn, Chicago and Colorado, as well as Bethnal Green and Bermondsey – not to mention their own beer, brewed right here at Duke’s.
‘Beer, beer, beer,’ says Johnny. ‘Smoked monk’s brew and Kernel IPA – yes! We were too late for the ribs but it’s five minutes from our house so we’ll be back… Charming staff, easy-going, quality ales.’
The Hunter S
194 Southgate Road, London N1 3HT (020 7249 7191)
A recently revamped Dalston/Islington pub from the owners of the Hemingway on Victoria Park Road, the Hunter S is done out in similar jazzy, comfortable style. Hearty food is served, and it’s got a cosy feel.
‘They’ve gone completely over the top with the taxidermy in this civilised new-generation pub,’ says Daniel. ‘The mega chandelier and lots of attention to detail gives this a feeling of grandeur. And the loos – whoa!’
Ridley Road Market Bar
49 Ridley Road, London E8 2NP
An unpretentious hang-out with a friendly feel and no door policy, Ridley Road Market Bar, aka Wu’s, used to be a gaming parlour. The Australian owners ripped out the bullet-proof cash booths and installed a bar made from upcycled scaffolding, a dancefloor (think Twin Peaks set in Hawaii) and a fridge full of Red Stripe. There’s a street-food pitch outside to help ward off chills.
Says Daniel, ‘Doing mojitos for a fiver and having Red Stripe on at £2.50 completely represents what they’re doing. They aren’t focused on making money – it’s about having fun. It’s unassuming, honest and kitsch.’