By Elliot Fulton
The Shoreditch bar scene can be predictable. First came the stripped back look, then the bright neon lights to cater for the weekend influx who were looking to get their one Insta shot of being out somewhere cool. A Friday night around Hoxton Square became a strange mix of after-work creatives and a new breed who dressed somewhere between Sugar Hut and Peaky Blinders. It was losing its edge. You really had to know where to go in the area for something good – that or head further out to Dalston and Hackney. But in the last two years there’s been a spate of great new openings – The Gun may just be the best one yet.
The Gun is on the corner of the impressive redevelopment of the London Fruit & Wool Exchange. There’s a history to the pub that goes back to the 17th Century when it was the site of Henry VIII’s weapon’s practice ground. But this isn’t a pub caught up in its own history. This is a contemporary London bar reimagined by East London Pub Co, who operate the iconic boozer The Ten Bells around the corner. What makes The Ten Bells great is its attitude. It knows exactly what it is. It’s loud, it’s always packed, unpretentious and it keeps doing what it does best, pumping out pints. Beer is still at the heart of The Gun with huge copper lines stretching like rifle barrels above the bar to the exposed keg room.
But The Gun is more than just a boozer. It’s slick and polished. It’s a shiny new investment, with every detail meticulously planned, from the plush furnishing, to the shrapnel scars etched into the metal surfaces, and the stunning glass skylight running down the centre of the room. It has been cleverly split into different areas so that you could just as easily be standing at the bar after work, or sitting in the snug area on a date. The lighting is seductive, the music changes tempo with the rhythm of the night, it’s hard not to be sucked into staying for more drinks than you planned.
The cocktail menu is reimagined classics with some big bourbon punches; the food puts a contemporary spin on bar classics alongside on-trend small plates like grilled celeriac tacos or veal and date meatballs. In the hands of another operator all of these well thought-out details may not have all come together. But from going to the raucous opening party, it already has its own attitude. This is the Ten Bells younger, handsome brother. And like it’s sibling, The Gun knows what it is – a great contemporary East London bar.
54 Brushfield Street, London E1 6AG
020 7247 6462