To many, the London borough of Hackney is East London, and somehow manages to straddle the many dichotomies of this ever changing city: a hub for families but with a youthful party vibe; an artistic centre drawing in young creatives like bearded moths to a flame but remaining home to true cockney ‘Eastenders’; distinctly urban but with great green expanses. What you do feel in Hackney is a true sense of community from the borough’s diverse population, and never more so than in one of its plentiful pubs.
With such a range of characters to cater for coupled with the insatiable thirst of the borough’s residents, Hackney boasts a massive selection of pubs, from pop ups moistening hipster lips with the newest craft beer to proper old British institutions where you can count on a cracking pie and mash. And with an ever growing influx of bright-eyed residents, pubs here are being spruced up and transformed into fine drinking establishments left, right and centre. Here are a few favourites:
The pub with the longest history on our list, the Cat & Mutton began its life way back in 1729 as a popular spot for agricultural workers to stop off for a brew on trips to and from the market with their livestock. This adds layers of charm and character to the pub, but it’s by no means a stuffy old place. Renovated in 2014 the Cat & Mutton is a buzzing, modern institution that draws in a steady crowd of trendy drinkers, enticed by it its solid selection of beers, wines and spirits, live music nights, and some delicious fried chicken from resident chefs Mother Clucker! Not to mention its sophisticated upstairs cocktail bar endearingly named Pearl after one of the pub’s 18th century landlords.
A pub with true heart nestled on the unassuming Homerton High Street. The Adam & Eve was first established in 1915, and has been refurbished and reopened as recently as 2014. It is the trusty local to hundreds of Homerton residents, enticed here by the warm welcome, surprisingly big beer garden and astonishingly good food courtesy of the partnership between the pub team and The Cornwall Project, an enterprise which provides top quality Cornish produce to select London institutions. Be careful though; slump into one of the obscenely comfy arm chairs with a pint of local ale locked in your hand and you might just never get up again.
A Hackney institution which acts as a great glowing beacon for the borough’s cosmopolitan population, drawing them in with its convivial atmosphere, expansive garden and giant screens. Pub on the Park is one of those rare gems that seems to tick all the pub boxes: family friendly, great for a big knees up with mates, with enough dark corners for intimate dates, sunlit and open in summer, warm and cosy in winter, the place to party on the weekend and always on hand for a quiet mid-week drink. If you grow weary of the top notch food, ample selection of beers and ciders and fancy throwing some balls around, just head out to the floodlit boules court.
The Glory represents a definite alternative to soulless chain pubs. Described by its founders as “a super-pub, performance venue and late night disco haunt”, it exploded into the East London community in 2014 and has quickly become a much loved and essential venue for the city’s LGBTQ community. Inhabiting a building which was a working tavern over 200 years ago, The Glory features a comfy pub upstairs, an outdoor terrace and the downstairs ‘hole’ for parties and events. This community hub will always give you a warm welcome, and it hosts an array of eclectic events, from anarchic drag performances to the best new DJs to spoken word monologues.
Boasting an immense beer garden that’s regularly voted as one of London’s very best, the People’s Park Tavern has a loyal fan base and is especially popular during the summer months, where it throngs with merry drinkers in the sunshine. It’s no one-trick pony however; the People’s Park Tavern also boasts an on-site brewery. Try the pub’s very own selection of exceptional beers including the fabulous Red Empire made with American hops. Add to this a hearty selection of pub food classics (their Sunday roast is especially recommended) and this historic pub astride one of London’s finest parks is certainly up there with East London’s top drinking establishments.