The news that the team behind Discount Suit Co (subterranean Shoreditch speakeasy bar) had revamped The Sun Tavern (a classic East End boozer on Bethnal Green Road) was most exciting to me. Discount Suit Co is up there amongst my favourite bars, so I was sure The Sun would deliver an equally enjoyable evening.
Upon arrival, I immediately clocked the striking interior. Built in 1851, the tavern is steeped in history – notable regulars have included the Kray twins, and the pub was also used as a meeting place for the local boxing fraternity for many years. Recent renovations have maintained its character, revealing the original exterior tiles and 19th century detailing in the now-exposed interior brickwork; it takes ‘shabby chic’ to a whole new level – more like ‘demolition chic‘!
And then there was the soundtrack – oh my! Dire Straits, Sting & The Police, The War On Drugs and The Black Keys all featured and made me exceptionally happy – there really was nowhere I would have rather been on that Wednesday night in gloomy January!
With the tavern theme in mind, The Sun’s Galway-born owner, Ciaràn Duffy, has created a menu of classic mixed drinks served in vintage pewter tankards. Many of them are inspired by 18th century recipes and feature unusual spirits, such as the various flavours of poitín that Ciaràn has specially brewed for his bar.
The Sun Tavern is in fact one of the only places in London that you can find poitín (pronounced ‘po-cheen’), a traditional Irish moonshine-style spirit, and I was pleasantly surprised by the cocktails. The Bogcutter is a very drinkable mix of poitín, apricot brandy, amontillo sherry, honey water and ginger.
My +1 for the evening was sadly embarking on Dry January, but the bar staff took on the challenge with gusto, serving up delicious mocktails featuring almond syrup, pineapple and plenty of flavour – no alcohol, no problem.
Food-wise, there are cheese boards, olives and nuts, plus a newly launched menu by Sub Cult, specialists in gourmet deli sub sandwiches and sides.
I had a good chat with Ciaràn, discussing how The Sun Tavern must be the most perfect date spot (evidenced by the large number of twosomes around us!) – great soundtrack, great ambience, moody lighting, snacks to line the stomach and a drink choice for all tastes.
The Sun Tavern
441 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN