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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Hand Of Glory, Shacklewell

The Shacklewell Arms has long been the sort of lo-fi music pub where you'll spot faces that grace - or create - the pages of edgy style mags with titles like Wound, Bruise and GBH. Now, thanks to The Shrubbery - a garden-themed cocktail bar at popular cafe/ social hub The Russet - and Hand of Glory - the latest gig from Shoreditch stalwarts DreambagsJaguarshoes - this pocket off Kingsland High Street just got even more interesting for the style barometrs, bloggers, club monkeys and skanky posh bird junkies whose habitat is deepest DalstonLatterly a dreary wine bar - and before that, the old Amhurst Arms - this rebooted boozer/ music venue's name describes the fate that befell the light-fingered back in the days before convicted thieves were given a conditional discharge, a team of social workers to help them resolve their issues, and group hug therapy on an adventure weekend in Dorset at the taxpayer's expense. JK Rowling fans will know the withered Hand of Glory, severed at the wrist, as Draco Malfoy’s pet talisman, while an older generation will recognise it as 'The Thing.' The bar's low-rent Gothic decor involves wiccan art, pagan trappings, a life-size fellow made out of straw, Morris dancing malarkey and, on the bar top, a petrified stone cat / gin dispenser (pictured) that cost £1,000, we're told. "More like a fiver at the Homebase garden centre sale," reckons my chum. I'm particularly drawn to a display case featuring esoteric avian taxidermy turned into the sort of millinery the late Isabella Blow would have teamed with a McQueen ballgown to go pick up a p-p-p-Penguin and a pint of milk at her local Spar. The overall vibe is cod-creepy: think The Wicker Man or the sort of in-breds' village pub John Steed and Emma Peel would be called on to investigate. Barrel-aged negroni and boulevardier, Thundering Molly cider and local Crate, Kernel and Five Points ales should help settle any nervousness. Rock up too for 'rural fare' from Austrian pop-up street foodies, Fleisch Mob - plus beer-sticks, pickled veg and sundry snacks in screw top jars that might stump any amputee tea-leaf looking for a fresh start behind the bar.

240 Amhurst Road E8 2BS