Though it sounds like a London lover’s dream, rest assured that Emma Peter’s new pop-up bar dedicated to gin and set within a traditional East End pie, mash and eel shop is very much real. Enter the realm of Miss Peter’s kingdom of glorious gin here…
You were previously a nightclub promoter. What made you start a career in the pop-up world?
I come from a family of London publicans who've had various pubs across the city, from Camberwell to Camden. I started running club nights and warehouse parties years ago with the aim of eventually getting my own premises. My grandma's last pub was The Black Bull in Haggerston, which I would have loved to get my hands on, but it was turned into flats. The Peters & Co. Gin Palace began in January this year as a pop-up, as a way to see if it worked and if people liked it, without taking on the risk of permanent premises just yet.
Do you have plans to open a more permanent space?
The pop-up period was a lot of fun and I would love to continue. After several months of argy-bargy with one neighbour and four hours of sweating it out at Hackney Town Hall, we have just been granted a premises licence. Next week we are graduating from pop-up to a permanent establishment at the old pie and mash shop.
Why did you choose a pie, mash and eel shop as the venue?
Victorian gin palaces were lavish, gilded affairs back in the day. Unfortunately there aren’t any original ones left in London. I looked to Broadway Market for the Cooke family’s Pie and Mash Shop as it hasn’t seen much modernisation since its occupation over 100 years ago. It’s an East End institution with original Art Deco tiles and chipped marble, rough around the edges but with a splendour and charm that fits perfectly with Peters & Co. Gin Palace.
Which mixologists inspire you?
Audrey Saunders at Pegu Club in New York, and Alex Kratena at Artesian. Both are at the top of their game.
What’s your favourite bar?
My favourite pub is The Mayflower, a traditional pub on the Thames. My favourite bar at the moment is The Clove Club in Shoreditch Town Hall. The drinks, British food and service are impeccable.
What do you think of London’s drinks scene?
It's exciting and innovative, but I feel that areas such as Westminster are having the life sucked out of them. Having recently been through the licensing process, it’s not easy and restrictions are making it even harder for smaller operators to survive, or for people to be allowed to enjoy themselves.
What’s your favourite gin cocktail?
The Peters & Co. Negroni. It's barrel-aged downstairs in the basement, which results in a smoother finish, with possibly a detectable hint of eel…
You brought in Farmer Tom Jones for the food. Why did you choose him?
Tom's meat is from native breeds, free range and subject to traditional farming methods. So the animals are about as happy as they can be before being eaten. Tom has devised a simple menu of hearty ‘field to plate’ dishes.
What does the future hold for Peters & Co. Gin Palace?
I'm launching a pop-up offshoot, called House of Negroni, taking over a premises during London Cocktail Week, which I'm looking forward to. You can probably guess there will be a fair few Negronis on the menu.
What inspires you?
A nice cup of tea starts the day as I mean to go on. A gin and tonic is inspiring too.
Emma is currently residing at F.Cooke Pie and Mash Shop, Broadway Market, London E8; petersginpalace.com