It’s a beautiful bar with a great pedigree: an old glue factory transformed into a gin distillery. Tall ceilings, dusty brickwork and wooden stable doors remain making it all look a bit fabulous by night, especially with spotlights bouncing off the copper stills visible through glass behind the bar. The view sure beats a plain old back-bar.
But you’ll have to know where you’re going: it’s in a Bow Wharf car park, so you’ll hardly stumble across it on the late-night Tower Hamlets trail. As such, it stays quiet on week nights, somewhat dampening the drinking experience.
The stash of bottled booze is pretty impressive. They make gin and vodka as well as smaller batches of rum (distillery tours can be booked), but in the bar itself there’s also a variety of imported liquors on show. Many cocktails have silly names (‘I’ll have the sec’s-ual healing, please’) but this blend is both serious and refreshing: dry curacao, rhubarb, lemon and orange bitters topped with soda water.
Gin lovers can keenly test out mother’s ruin straight from the ELLC source with cocktails based on the distillery’s own London dry and premium batch. Should a marva Collins (London dry, yuzu, lime, bergamot bitters and soda, £8.50) not take your fancy, well-trained staff can whip up something to your taste. Barman Mikey Pendergast has headed up Hoxley and Porter in Islington and Powder Keg Diplomacy in Clapham in the past.
When it’s quiet you can eavesdrop on the bartenders concocting new recipes or playing around with old favourites. What ELLC lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for in booze enthusiasm.