Even in east London, where unmarked bars are the norm, it still gives newcomers a frisson to discover The Gin Den – gorgeous & mysterious following a recent spruce-up, behind its drab exterior in a basement below Bistrotheque. The vintage chandeliers look as if they have been salvaged from some mad old bird’s stately pile; the handsome wooden bar has been reclaimed from a panelled ballroom; & the scuffed concrete floors are what’s left of the sweatshop that used to be here. The cocktail list contains just eight drinks: Camp’arry (Campari, pink grapefruit & Prosecco) is the bar’s signature; classics include a Beefeater or Wyborowa martini. Cabaret acts perform here on Fridays & Saturdays. The door policy is pleasingly democratic; you could walk in wearing your oldest jeans – but nobody does.
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