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The 100 best bars and pubs in London - Satan's Whiskers, Bethnal Green
Kris Piotrowski

Bethnal Green pubs and bars

Drink the East End way at the very best bars and pubs in Bethnal Green, east London

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Bethnal Green, bang in the middle of the city’s East End, has always had more than its fair share of the best pubs in London. If you’re on the hunt for wood-panelled boozers serving pies and pints to Londoners new and old, this is the place to come. But over the last decade or so, as the surrounding area has smartened its act up, there’s been a boom in the sorts of watering holes that Barbara Windsor would hardly recognise. Nowadays, Bethnal Green is home to some of London’s best cocktail bars and even the capital’s very own urban winery. Here’s our current selection of the area’s very best bars and pubs, a clutch that proves East London drinkers have never had it so good.

Pubs and bars in Bethnal Green

The Hive of Vyner St
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Bethnal Green
  • price 2 of 4

It’s inexplicable that The Hive isn’t crammed every night. Just a few steps from Regent’s Canal, its combo of organic food, cold-pressed juices and great coffee by day, and a fresh menu of veggie aperitivo and natural wines from 5pm, make it a fine place to kick back with a laptop – or kick off a night out. The space is minimalist but sprawling. Huge windows make it bright and airy in the day, though it could do with being cosied up a bit at night. Food-wise, we plumped for a selection of small plates. Houmous was light as a feather and moreish; as was the farinata, a traditional Italian flatbread made with chickpea flour, olive oil and salt, served warm and perfect for dipping. The wines were the main event, though. Our knowledgeable waiter talked us through the menu, noting which were low in sulphites. (Those rumours that low-sulphite wines give less of a hangover? All true!) Highlights were a glass of La Stoppa Ageno – an aromatic, organic orange wine – and Rocco di Carpeneto Aur-Oura, a light, dangerously drinkable organic red. All the vino is sourced by owners Marco and Ilaria – they’re experts on the Northern Italian natural wine scene and it shows. With an offering this strong, quite frankly, The Hive deserves to be buzzing.

Sebright Arms
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Bethnal Green
  • price 1 of 4

A back-passage boozer just off Hackney Road with a dishevelled aesthetic and live music leanings, the Sebright Arms has a faithful army of drinkers, mostly in their mid-twenties. The pub champions local craft beers – look for anything from Hackney Brewery, London Fields or Redchurch on rotation on tap – as well as showcasing fast food pop-ups. Indeed, a long-running residency from Lucky Chip put the tongue-in-cheek burger vendors firmly on the foodie map. Live music is the Sebright’s biggest draw though, with gigs on almost every night in the louche basement. Sound-proofing may be a bit of an issue but it’s only good vibrations that set kitsch lampshades wobbling charmingly in the ground-floor bar. And despite their studiously cool appearance, fresh-faced staff in American Apparel gear seem to be having just as much fun as the gig-goers, which is just fine in our book.

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Mother Kelly's
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Breweries
  • Bethnal Green
  • price 2 of 4

Mother Kelly’s is a New York-inspired bar tucked beneath one of the railway arches on Bethnal Green’s Paradise Row. But there’s a twist. The beers here aren’t just for sitting down and sipping in situ: you can also take them away to savour on your sofa too. And the selection of bottles is staggering – and it’s all judiciously chosen. The room itself is a bright, corrugated tunnel with chunky wooden decking, plenty of space to sit and stand, and a loud wall of graffiti splashed across one wall. A row of unmarked taps along the metallic back wall offer a head-spinning range of brews to those who prefer to get stuck in on-site, and they all change pretty much every day. So you've got an excuse to keep going back.

Now discover London’s best bars

The best bars in London
  • Bars and pubs

London is known the world over for its traditional pubs. But its quirky bars and top-drawer joints serving cocktails, wine, beer and beyond are just as worthy of your precious drinking time. So, to prove a point, Time Out has pulled together a list of London’s very best bars. Sit up at the bar at these rocking spots and order in a round you definitely won’t forget in a rush.

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