The Gin Tub & Shimmer Brighton

You never get a second chance to make a first impression or as the owner of The Gin Tub explained to me, ‘it’s the seven second rule’.

Steve and Tors Tyler took this city by storm over a decade ago, creating some of the most fun, creative and risqué establishments that Brighton & Hove has ever seen. The secret to their success is endless imagination, creativity, passion and more drive than any other dream team I have met.

Just over a year ago The Gin Tub exploded on to the scene with its unique concept making headlines across the United Kingdom. In a world where so many of us are attached to our smart phone, the
Tylers designed a space with an earthed metal screen. Stylish copper wires and silver foil embedded within the exposed brick work block mobile phone signals using the natural science of physics. The Michael ‘Faraday cage’ is just one example of the Tylers using imagination as a weapon against reality. As Albert Einstein said ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’ and these proprietors are certainly doing that.


The Gin Tub is perfectly situated in bustling Church Road area of Hove and is surrounded by restaurants perfect for pre or post dinner drinks. The novelty does however not just end with your mobile phone signal being blocked. As the aim of the game is human interaction, each table is fitted with a vintage style phone complete with rotating dial and cord which I can imagine the Millennials have been fascinated with and Xennials secretly instagramming.

Last week Steve and Tori invited me to come and experience their bar and to be one of the first to check out the brand new wild and wonderful world they have created under the tub!

My partner in crime for the night and I arrived at 8pm and were greeted by a charming host who proceeded to explain how things work at The Gin Tub. Drinks can be ordered at your table using your unique number and you can also call other tables to chat. Tables are also not exclusive in
an attempt to lead to good old fashioned human interaction and meeting new people as your night evolves. As seats become available you will be introduced to the next guests and so on and so fourth until you leave and your space is filled.

We were placed on a table with a couple on their first date. They were over the moon to demonstrate the rotary phone and insisted we try their cocktails before ordering our own. I found their excitement contagious and before I knew it I was giggling away whilst attempting to call Steve in order to ask him what I should start the night off with.

My date, not being a fan of gin was relieved to be able to order a Margarita. Beer and other spirits are available, however with over 100 varieties of gin and this being The Gin Tub I was keen to broaden my horizons and try a gin based cocktail.

The Gin Tub’s bespoke cocktails are divine and the presentation is picture perfect – ideal for todays photo obsessed culture. However, as I looked around the room I noticed that the Tyler’s concept
was working and people were actually talking. I suppose when you are put on a table with complete strangers you do not want to appear to be rude, nor embarrass yourself by whipping out your phone and negotiating position and lighting. This of course is saved for our very closest of friends…..

A slider selection of gins is available as well as nibbles of cheese, sliced meats and nuts which may be needed if you attempt the sliders. Every inch of The Gin Tub is carefully designed and all by the owners themselves. Steve told us about his love of collecting items on his travels from vintage stores, markets and making his ideas come to life.

The dimly lit main room is a treasure trove of sleek and quirky delights. Tiffany style lamps sit on wooden tables, leather arm chairs add a comforting vibe to the space and raised booths are scattered throughout. It’s a mix and match of old and new, but it works. Cosy and inviting, each table felt rather intimate considering we found ourselves chatting away to complete strangers.

Our ‘First date’ couple eventually moved on and so we shimmied around the table to make way for two ex Albion football players. At first they seemed a little on edge. I suppose they initially would have preferred a table full of young women, but before I knew it my date was chatting away to them about sport and luckily for me I was being introduced to two new guests. As the six of us chatted away and continued to work our way through the cocktail menu, it was refreshing not to be checking my phone and simply engaging with people that I most likely would never have made the time to chat to. A variety of ages and all from different industries, the conversation was interesting and we were all impressed with how well this system was working.

At this point I had completely forgotten that Steve had yet another surprise for us. Ironically given the no phones emphasis upstairs, beneath The Gin Tub is the stunning Shimmer Bar. This is a selfie bar designed solely with the aim of taking photos to share on social media. The global phenomenon of social media self expression through smart phones has become a key marketing tool for businesses around the world. Visual pictures tell a story and allow for the customer to engage with both the company and followers and brand awareness is key to success.

Collette Miller from California was one of the first artists to take advantage of this movement and created The Global Angel wing project. Painting large colourful wings around the world, she gave people the opportunity stand in the middle recreating angelic poses whilst also sharing her message and promoting her other art work. The fashion designer Paul Smiths famous pink wall on Melrose Avenue is. the most instagrammed wall in the world and has certainly boosted followers and fans on Instagram. And now here in the UK and on our south coast shores, Steve and Tors have launched the worlds first selfie bar where every inch of the venue from the floor to the ceiling is photo worthy.

The sensory high started as we walked down the stairs with walls covered in green artificial touchable grass; a dreamlike setting whisking you away to a secret destination.

This venue is inspired by the popular series Stranger Things and Annihiliation, both sic-fi thrillers that push reality out of the window and inspire fun and freedom. Everywhere you turn there is something to capture your imagination, from the neon signs with bold statements to the floral wall and dripping foliage. The vivid and bizarre painting in the bathroom that makes you feel like you are inside the mind of someone on LSD is also a fantastic talking point. However, the main attraction (apart from the crazy shapes being thrown on the dance floor) has got to be the wooden swing under the stairs. It’s a magical space with pink and white flowers on the wall and a sign saying ‘You Go Girl,’ as if I needed encouragement! This is definitely the most popular and fun photo opportunity in Shimmer’s sensational space.

The cocktails are also like nothing you have tried before. The Unicorn cocktail is purple and full of edible glitter, complete with a marshmallow unicorn head and strawberry laces as a tail. My personal favourite tipple of the night has got to be ‘The Selfie Cocktail’. The bar man will stop in his tracks to take a mini polaroid of you and your friends which is then clipped to your glass and later kept as a reminder of the playful parallel universe you entered when you stepped through the Shimmer wall.

The synergy between the two bars is perfect and offers something for everyone. These bars are vibrant and fun and an escape from reality. I had one of the most satisfying nights out that I have had in ages. Partly this was due to the delicious cocktails and new friends, but mainly because this was a truly memorable experience that I cannot wait experience again.