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The 100 best bars and pubs in London: the best pubs in London by area

Here's our guide to the best boozers London has to offer, with the capital's best pubs divided up by area

© Olivia Hemingway

Whether you're on the hunt for a quiet local, want to discover London's best craft beer, cider or real ale, or are in need of a boozer for a lively night out, we should have you covered with our definitive guide to London's very best pubs. We've divided up our favourites by area, so it's never been easier to get on the sherbets. Bottoms up, London!

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The best pubs in central London

Ape & Bird

A great hideaway to know about in an area known for touristy pubs

What's the vibe? A stripped-down drinking den with a wealth of Italian liqueur behind the bar.

When to visit: When you fancy something a little classier than a sauv blanc and soda at a nearby Sam Smith's.

Drink this: The spritz (Aperol or Campari) between the hours of 4pm and 6pm, when they're only £5 each.

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Covent Garden

Bradley's Spanish Bar

Londoners love Bradley’s for its low-key and unpretentious vibe

What's the vibe? A cosy and unassuming little boozer bringing a little flamenco to Fitzrovia.

When to visit: When another rainy day reminds you that you’re definitely not in Spain.

Drink this: A glass of Spanish wine – they offer the most Bamboléo for your buck.

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Oxford Street

Coach & Horses

A curious mix of old-timey standards and progressive ideas which work together like a charm

What's the vibe? Old-school and unpretentious, with a wistful pride for its heritage as a writers’ drinking den.

When to visit: On a Wednesday or Saturday night for the bi-weekly piano singalong, which sees cockney classics and pop hits alike belted out with boozy abandon.

Drink this: The standard Fuller’s ales are nothing special, so go for the guests: Redemption’s punchy Hopspur makes regular appearances.

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Cross Keys

One of the most perfectly English experiences you’ll get in the West End

What's the vibe? Dim, beery and blokey – the sort of place you’d rest your feet after a day-long hike through the Lake District, only in Covent Garden.

When to visit: When the sun’s out, so you can sup your suds amid the flowers and greenery that covers the entire front of the pub.

Drink this: Anything from Brodie’s, an east London producer that almost pre-dates the London brewing boom.

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Covent Garden

French House

This is Soho history. Come and suck it up

What's the vibe? Always crowded, insanely atmospheric, pavement spillage inevitable.

When to visit: For a whole rowdy, boozy night, if you can squeeze in.

Drink this:
 Un verre de reserve du patron, s’il vous plaît.

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The range of ciders and ales on offer here is outstanding and the prices are blissfully low, both of which have helped to cement the Harp's reputation as a destination for true ale-ficienados

What's the vibe? Award-winning boozer that’s all about the ales.

When to visit: When you’re in central London and crave a quality pint.

Drink this: Try one of the pub’s regularly changing guest brews

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Covent Garden

Jerusalem Tavern

This Farringdon bar has the sort of look many pubs invest a lot of time, effort and money into imitating, but the Jerusalem looks the perfect part

What's the vibe? The kind of pub you dream of stumbling across, this ancient-looking brewery-owned boozer is one of the most authentic pubs in the city.

When to visit: When the loyal regulars from the surrounding ad agencies are stuck in pitch meetings.

Drink this: The comfortingly sweet St Peter’s Cream Stout is the ideal introduction for anyone cautious of darker brews.

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Lamb & Flag

The Lamb & Flag is just about as perfect a pub as you’ll find in the West End

What's the vibe? Cramped, heaving, noisy – and loving every second of it.

When to visit: In time to beat the after-work crowd.

Drink this: Butcombe Bitter
 is hard to beat.

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Covent Garden

Old Coffee House

The Old Coffee House has an unfussy proper-pubness to it

What's the vibe? A vintage genuine / 'genuine' pub that's traded a haze of cig smoke for much-improved beer

When to visit: If you want to meet somewhere in Soho without looking like you're trying too hard

Drink this: There are several Brodies beers on rotation; the Kiwi is a nice and tangy pale ale.

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Princess Louise

Old Louise is truly, incredibly, spectacularly ornate: a warren of Victorian frosted-glass booths

What's the vibe? Buzzy after-work pub with gorgeous original decor

When to visit: Monopolise a booth with a few favoured colleagues, then convince each other you're rolling deep in the VIP (The 1800s VIP).

Drink this: It's all Sam Smith's own-brand… But the Oatmeal Stout is the pick of the bunch.

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Queen's Head

It's usually cosy and blissfully music-free, apart from the odd hipster-trad jazz session around the old walnut upright piano

What's the vibe? A traditional small backstreet pub that is effortlessly keeping up with twenty-first-century drinkers.

When to visit: Meeting friends from the North straight off the train. It's a great advert for the London pub.

Drink this: One of the stronger bottled porters – perfect with the handmade pork pie or cheese plate.

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St Pancras

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Everyone should pay at least one visit to this venerable Fleet Street landmark

What's the vibe? Curious drinkers seeking a taste of history in a warren of tiny old rooms.

When to visit: For an atmospheric blast from the capital’s past

Drink this: A pint of Sam Smith
’s. You don’t have much choice here

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The best pubs in north London

Craft Beer Company

A comfortable pub with an excellent beer list is a dangerous proposition, and you could certainly spend many happy hours here

What's the vibe? Dozens of taps means dozens of excuses to settle into this beer-heavy hideaway.

When to visit: When you’re feeling decisive.

Drink this: Ask a bartender for something new, gasp at their incredible beer knowledge, sip, enjoy.

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Earl of Essex

Nowadays, almost every new pub tries to sell itself on a ‘craft beer’ offer, but not all manage it on this scale - there are 11 on keg, five or six on cask, plus a couple of quality ciders

What's the vibe? Beer-focused but welcoming to all, a lovely local.

When to visit: For a beery but refined evening - everything on tap is great.

Drink this: Ask what’s on from Earl’s brewery.

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Euston Tap

The sheer number of brews on offer here is enough to make beer fans go weak at the knees before they’ve even got a glass in their hand.

What's the vibe? Former station gatehouse turned busy craft beer pub.

When to visit: When you fancy a brew but want to try something new.

Drink this: The beers rotate often, but there’s usually a satisfying Bernard pilsner on offer.

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This backstreet boozer dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, and you can feel the history in the weathered wood of the joyously unmodernised main bar

What's the vibe? All of KT mingles here, so it’s a constantly lively scene.

When to visit: When the locals come out to play, every night of the week

Drink this: A pint of Camden Hells lager, the local brew.

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Kentish Town

The Prince

The residents of these quiet terraces have taken the Prince to heart: it’s busy most nights

What's the vibe? A local that anyone would love to live beside.

When to visit: Unless you live nearby, it requires a journey – but it’s always worthwhile.

Drink this: There’s often something from the local Five Points brewery on tap.

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Stoke Newington

Railway Tavern

One of the best pubs in London - fact

What's the vibe? A wonderful local that makes everyone feel at home.

When to visit: The main Dalston drag is five minutes away - if that gets too much, stop in here.

Drink this: The Yorkshire manager ensures there’s often a beer from God’s Own County on tap.

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Stoke Newington

The Salisbury

Apart from its architecture, the main reason for a trip to the Salisbury is for a peaceful pint with extensive elbow room

What's the vibe? A glamorous ex-hotel turned vast local boozer.

When to visit: When you want to keep yourself to yourself.

Drink this: London breweries such as Acton’s Dragonfly are well-represented; sip at something with zero air miles.

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Southampton Arms

The sign outside announces ‘ale, cider, meat’, and that pretty much sums up what’s on offer at the best pub in Gospel Oak.

What's the vibe? Utterly unpretentious local that loves small-producer ales and ciders

When to visit: Weekend afternoons are laid-back, lively, and awash with local love.

Drink this: It’s going to be ale or cider, but the list changes constantly

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Dartmouth Park

Wenlock Arms

Visit and remind yourself that in a city full of institutions, the London pub is perhaps the best one we’ve got

What's the vibe? The best pub in London.

When to visit: You probably won’t be passing, ever, so make a night of it and bring all your pals.

Drink this: There’s often a mild pouring, which you don’t often see these days.

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The best pubs in east London

Carpenter's Arms

The Carpenter’s Arms was once under the rule of East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray (and apparently run by their old mum)

What's the vibe? A classic Spitalfields pub with a lively local crowd.

When to visit: When the full-on clamour of Brick Lane becomes tiresome.

Drink this: Timothy Taylor’s, one of Yorkshire’s finest ales.

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Bethnal Green

Cat & Mutton

The sizeable Cat & Mutton sits proudly at the helm of Hackney's Broadway Market, and has been welcoming its costermongers and consumers for 300 years

What's the vibe? Busy and bold Georgian boozer with a modern speakeasy upstairs.

When to visit: On a warm evening, when you can sit outside with a pint and watch the market sellers packing up.

Drink this: Well, it’d be rude not to have a London Fields Iced Tea (bourbon, elderflower, lemon and iced tea).

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South Hackney


Craft beer done the time-honoured Low-Country way

What's the vibe? Continental temple for Belgian beer enthusiasts.

When to visit: Soak up the buzzing beer-hall vibe by visiting after a Saturday trip to the market.

Drink this: Any of the Trappists by the bottle, or a pint of draught De Koninck.

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South Hackney

King's Arms

The perfect update of a local community boozer: its clientele reflect all shades of local life

What's the vibe? A scrubbed-up pub for the twenty-first century.

When to visit: It’s ideal for an intimate one-on-one boozeathon.

Drink this: Ask the barman – they're bearded but very approachable, and can help you navigate the shifting range of beers on tap.

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Bethnal Green

Palm Tree

The Palm Tree provides a Cockney experience more intense than Danny Dyer pulling pints at the Queen Vic

What's the vibe? A no-frills Mile End pub that’s authentic to the end.

When to visit: Come on a Saturday night for an unpolished East End singalong.

Drink this: Who cares? It’s all about the atmosphere.

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Mile End

Pride of Spitalfields

This is a London drinker with character rather than an image

What's the vibe? Dependable, no-nonsense spot for a proper pint. Look elsewhere for ironic lampshades and bare floorboards.

When to visit: After an in-store gig at Rough Trade East, or to come back to earth after a spendy shopping trip to Spitalfields.

Drink this: The Crouch Vale Brewer’s Gold is a regular fixture, and a cosy couple of pints will make you feel like one too.

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Brick Lane

Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect seems hardly to have changed since the days of dock workers and deckhands

What's the vibe? An eighteenth-century time capsule by the riverside.

When to visit: On a hostile winter's night for the atmosphere, or in summer, when the large balcony and beer garden offer sumptuous views along the river.

Drink this: The taps are fairly generic but you’ll find some interesting guest ales on the kegs.

See also... London's best riverside pubs and bars

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Queen's Arms

We like the Queen’s Arms: it’s just the right balance between posh and prosaic

What's the vibe? A family-friendly refurbished gastropub with an emphasis on ambitious food.

When to visit: When central London just feels too far to go for dinner.

Drink this: Share a carafe of a juicy, fruity red.

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Sebright Arms

Live music is the Sebright’s biggest draw, with gigs on almost every night in the louche basement

What's the vibe? A classic east London boozer turned into a hipster hangout with local ales and live music.

When to visit: In the evenings, when gigs are about to get into full swing.

Drink this: Hackney Best Bitter or any of the other local guest ales pouring.

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Bethnal Green

Spurstowe Arms

The Spurstowe never tries too hard to impress – which of course just wouldn’t wash in this trendy part of town

What's the vibe? A relaxed, unpretentious and above all grown-up Hackney gastropub.

When to visit: Head along for a Sunday session.

Drink this: The Bloody Mary is one of London’s finest.

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Sun Tavern

In the evenings, the Sun gets busy. Not surprising: there’s a lot to love here

What's the vibe? A stripped-back interpretation of an old pub, with great local craft beers.

When to visit: The Sun is a perfect balance of relaxed and revelrous – ideal for a weekend session with pals.

Drink this:

 Hackney’s Five Points brewery is just up the road and it’s London Smoke porter is incredible. Go for that if it’s on.

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Bethnal Green

The Old Blue Last

Venue says: £3.33 drinks before 7pm. £1 coffee from 9am-4pm.

Despite its location at the epicentre of the Shoreditch party scene, the Old Blue Last does a remarkable job of defying preconceptions

What's the vibe? The beating heart of east London hipsterdom. Imagine a pub run by Vice, because that’s exactly what it is.

When to visit: Whenever you hear synth riffs or power chords reverberating from the upstairs room. Gigs happen most nights of the week and are usually free.

Drink this: The Truman’s name has been associated with the pub since 1876, so to kick off with anything but a pint of Runner (the brewery’s best bitter) or Swift (a golden ale) would be criminal.

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The best pubs in south London


Think ‘1950s village hall’: it’s full of gorgeous wood panelling, stained glass windows, church pews and criss-crossing floral fabric bunting

What's the vibe? Beautifully retro eighteenth-century church hall meets exotic taxidermy showroom.

When to visit: When you’ve had enough of your local’s tired carpet.

Drink this: Sambrook’s London Pale Ale. A zesty craft beer brewed only 3.5 miles away.

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There’s free live music (of varying quality, which is all part of the fun) Monday to Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday nights, the Bedford plays host to brilliantly intimate comedy night Banana Cabaret

What's the vibe? Kid- and adult-friendly comedy and music venue.

When to visit: When you want to watch big-screen sport, or little Miriam simply can’t live without her babyccino.

Drink this: The selection’s pretty unremarkable, but the punters flock here for the sounds and the laughs.

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Crown & Anchor

One of the best beer and ale pubs in London, which makes its incongruous location on an otherwise unloved section of Brixton Road even more incredible

What's the vibe? One long, lively room packed with beer-loving locals.

When to visit: For a pre-gig party where the beer is always amazing.

Drink this: The staff are always looking for the next brilliant British brewery, so try something new.

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Cutty Sark Tavern

Three floors of bow-fronted Georgian magic, with the top-level room in particular giving fantastic Thames views both up- and downstream

What's the vibe? The best pub in riverine Greenwich and a fine piece of Georgian history.

When to visit: We’ve all endured those trips to Greenwich with out-of-town relatives – here’s a good reason to go back.

Drink this: Young’s beers are safe but often unexciting – the Double Chocolate Stout is the best of the bunch.

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Hare & Billet

Always a decent local boozer, the H&B’s crafty reinvention has made it something quite special

What's the vibe? Heathside local with great beer.

When to visit: Summer Sunday or chilly winter evening.

Drink this: Weird Beard's Decadence stout (5.5%).

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The Ivy House

It welcomes locals of all ages for a mates-rates pint of locally brewed ale, carefully sourced pub food and events ranging from live music to yoga classes, knitting circles and kids’ dance lessons

What's the vibe? Community’s serviced at this true locals’ local offering something for all.

When to visit: When anyone who complains about London’s low warm-and-fuzzy count is in town.

Drink this: Regularly changing cask beers include locally brewed Brockley PA (£3.60 per pint).

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Old Brewery

Welcome to the spiritual home of London's craft beer revolution

What's the vibe? Craft beer drinking amid the palatial grandeur of a classic landmark.

When to go: In summer, when the outdoor terrace allows greater appreciation of Wren's architecture.

Drink this: Meantime's hoptastic IPA on tap, or its Raspberry Wheat in a bottle.

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The Mayflower

Of all the Thamesside pubs, this one is the most special, the most atmospheric, the most tucked-away

What’s the vibe? Really really old, really really near the river, really really good.

When to visit: On a walk along the interesting bit of the Thames path – when the river is wide, dark and ex-industrial.

Drink this: A pint of something brown, English and comforting.

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Priory Arms

If you asked your granddad to design a pub this is probably exactly what he’d come up with, and we mean that in the best possible way

What's the vibe? An out-of-the-way old man pub that’s young at heart.

When to visit: To settle in for a long afternoon session.

Drink this: Pick from the casks – they’re well-chosen and all under £4 a pint.

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South Lambeth

Royal Oak

Perfectly treading the line between old man boozer and cutesy retro watering hole, this Victorian corner pub’s a lovely blend of the scruffy and the pretty

What's the vibe? A wonderfully unreconstructed boozer for ale enthusiasts.

When to visit: To witness for yourself that there is still such a thing as the perfect pub.

Drink this: One of the large range of Harvey’s ales: the Best really is.

See also... London's best real ale pubs

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The Borough


It's no wonder nobody wants to leave at kicking-out time

What's the vibe? Cosy, welcoming beer bar with no frills or pretension.

When to visit: When chatting is just as important as drinking.

Drink this: The third-pint tasters. That’s all you need of those 8 percent IPAs.

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The best pubs in west London


It remains one of the only places for miles around where you can sup on dozens of carefully crafted beers

What's the vibe? A boisterous west London outpost for the Aberdeenshire-based brewer.

When to visit: For a pre-Shepherd’s Bush Empire sharpener.

Drink this: A head-mashing half from Brewdog’s Scandi brethren Mikkeller.

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Shepherd's Bush

Bricklayer's Arms

On long summer days, the beer garden beckons: soak up some rays and some delicious English cider

What's the vibe? Camra-championed local boozer.

When to visit: A winter’s eve – bagsy a seat by the fire.

Drink this: Ale, ale and more ale!

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City Barge

A refurbished boozer that takes its place among the city’s best riverside pubs

What's the vibe? A relaxed and refined riparian inn.

When to visit: At the end of a riverside stroll.

Drink this:
 Your favourite waterside drink – it will taste even better here.

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A classic duck-your-head heritage pub experience, but most drinkers come here to sit in the vine-entangled conservatory or the riverside terrace

What's the vibe? Small but atmospheric old tavern with a cracking riverside location.

When to visit: When watching the boat race – just arrive very early.

Drink this:
 Fuller’s beers are made just up the road – it would be rude not to.

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Ravenscourt Park

Dragonfly Brewery at The George & Dragon

The G&D is pouring beers made on the premises, possibly for the first time in centuries

What's the vibe? A delightful and historic old coaching inn with a modern brewery on site.

When to visit: When in Acton. What else are you going to do?

Drink this:
 It has to be a Dragonfly beer, made metres away from where you’re sitting.

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Prince Alfred & Formosa Dining Rooms

A little slice of nineteenth-century London tucked away among the imposing mansions and canals around Warwick Avenue

What's the vibe? A rare and endlessly fascinating old Victorian pub.

When to visit: To remind yourself that all pubs were like this, once.

Drink this:

 Of all the Young’s beers, the Double Chocolate Stout is probably the most interesting.

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Maida Vale

Princess Victoria

The Princess Victoria is a cracking pub, certainly up there with the capital’s finest

What’s the vibe? A handsome boozer tastefully restored to its Victorian splendour.

When to visit: It’s pretty much the perfect place to cocoon yourself away from bad weather.

Drink this: The wine list is among the best you’ll find at a pub.

See also... London's best gastropubs

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Shepherd's Bush

White Horse

Chesterfield-style sofas surround huge tables, ideal for families and groups of friends, though the umbrella-covered outdoor tables are most coveted from spring on

What's the vibe? An extremely handsome and well-bred boozer with a strong line in beer.

When to visit: When England are playing at Twickers (or when they’re not, depending on your stance towards funny-shaped balls).

Drink this: A great British ale from a small brewery feels right.

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Parsons Green

Windsor Castle

The Windsor Castle is clad in aged wood the brown of Princess Anne’s saddle; still intact are decorative wooden screens installed by the Victorians to separate the sexes while they got sloshed

What's the vibe? A thankfully un-fiddled-with old pub with a unique interior and a lovely garden.

When to visit: After a visit to a royal park – it’s hidden away enough to ensure it doesn’t get too heaving.

Drink this: A Pimm’s among the verdant plants in the garden is a right royal treat.

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