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Where East End Meets Northern Lights

Where East End Meets Northern Lights

London’s East End is a long way from the 17th-century canals of downtown Copenhagen. Yet despite the fact your “pint” is served in half-liter glasses, the latest newcomer to Copenhagen’s bar scene is an East London-inspired pub. The Bird & the Churchkey was opened in fall 2013 by self-styled “beer enthusiasts and gin nerds” on downtown Gammel Strand, one of Copenhagen’s oldest streets.

During the Middle Ages, Gammel Strand was the site of Copenhagen’s fish market, the unassuming, granite statue of the Last Fisherman’s Wife (currently under storage due to Metro construction in the area) a memory of that time. With Slotsholmen Canal on the right and Christiansborg Palace beyond, Gammel Strand is about as close as you’ll get in Copenhagen to a bar strip. Hang out at the bar or take a table: The decor of The Bird & the Churchkey is inspired by the great British pubHang out at the bar or take a table: The decor of The Bird & the Churchkey is inspired by the great British pub — Photo courtesy of The Bird & the Churchkey

With plain wooden tables, monochrome tiled floors and slightly battered leather armchairs, The Bird & the Churchkey pays tribute to the kind of drinking establishment said to be dying in its home country, but apparently thriving as an export.

The Bird & the Churchkey opens at 4 p.m. most afternoons for those in need of a post-work G&T, though here they tend to call it a “gin tonic.” The pub can boast of having 100 types of gin and five of tonic – the largest gin selection you’ll find in Scandinavia.

One of the pub’s specialties is the garnish, a licorice root addition to your gin and tonic that is said to reaffirm the gin’s botanical flavor; another, “Mr. Hendrick Hammer,” is made up of Geranium gin, Fevertree tonic and red grape peel.

Daniel Knuttel, one of the bar’s co-owners, asserts: “[This] is our take on the perfect pub, an interpretation of East London design, to which we’ve added a touch of classic Scandinavian and some cognac vintage leather.”  

He ought to know the secret of success, being also co-owner of some of Copenhagen’s other popular nightlife spots: The Jane, Nord Natklub and nearby burger bar Cocks & Cows.

“The Bird,” as locals call it, offers drinkers on a budget happy hour rates from opening time until 8 p.m., with two beers / G&Ts for the price of one. Note that the pub is closed on Sunday and Mondays.

Cool as it is, you’re more likely to rub shoulders with an advertising exec than find yourself in the midst of a real knees-up. You’ll find yourself on a lengthy pub crawl, however, looking for the definitive local that can pour a G&T as competently as The Bird’s bar staff.

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