Tucked away down a flight of stairs below an old cinema sign in Dalston, you'll find an alluring illuminated doorway which leads to Ruby's. Situated in the basement of Ruby House, this speakeasy-style basement bar is an absolute delight and it's hard to imagine it used to be home to a Chinese takeaway. The decor is wonderfully dishevelled and rustic with textured walls, wooden floors, exposed brickwork and glazed tiles. The random array of tables, chairs, artefacts and low lighting add to the cosy and inviting ambience.
A friend and I went along on Saturday to check it out and were very pleasantly surprised. We arrived early enough to secure a table and ordered a couple of the specially concocted cocktails on offer, opting for a Blackberry Mojito served in an original 1940's Manchester milk bottle, and a Passion Fruit Bison Julep made with Bison Grass vodka served in an enamel tin mug. Both stupendous! As well as cocktails, Ruby's also serves wine, beer, cider and other usual suspects. And instead of using a bog standard ice bucket, wine bottles are chilled in small milk churns. Nice touch.
With some cracking tunes playing in the background, and the friendly bar team doing a sterling job in the foreground, it was easy to kick back, soak up the atmosphere, drink a couple of cocktails and watch as the place suddenly filled up until it was standing-room only. Refreshingly, the clientele at Ruby's seem to be an interesting and eclectic bunch and not just full of stereotypical Dalstonites.
But Ruby's bar is not all you'll find at these unassuming premises. There's a whole other world going on upstairs where Castle Gibson lies. As well as sourcing unusual and unique furniture and props, Castle Gibson is also home to some fantastic locations including vast spaces and townhouse rooms which are often used for film and photographic shoots. In fact the likes of Adele, Rhianna and the late Amy Winehouse have all had photo shoots here.
Castle Gibson is a successful family-run business (of which Ruby's is a part of) and I was lucky enough to be taken upstairs for a sneaky behind-the-scenes tour of the Castle Gibson empire. A labyrinth of enormous rooms lead into more enormous rooms, each full of gorgeous old furniture, leather sofas, random props, giant illuminated letters, vintage signs, an antique dentist chair, huge photography lamps, oversized clocks and a couple of large signed photographs of Clark Gable and Marlon Brandon. One of the spaces is the old MC Motors warehouse which boasts 6,000 square feet and oozes industrial charm. Not to mention the various rooms upstairs in the townhouse, equally delightful, unusually decorated and each with their own style. It was quite wonderful and most unexpected!
I'm so glad to have stumbled upon both these places. They're right up my street and truly amazing. So, if you're looking for an unusual location for a photo/film shoot (or even a wedding), or want to hire some mad props or furniture, then look no further than Castle Gibson. In fact, I love it so much, you may find me living there, just hanging out on one of the sofas, minding my own business. And if you're after a cocktail with a twist in a secret location, then clearly you must head to Ruby's. Where you may also find me lurking. Right, I think it's now time to try a Hemingway Daiquiri. Served in a jam jar, of course.
76 Stoke Newington Road
Wed & Thur 6pm - 11pm
Fri & Sat 6pm - midnight
020 8211 8690