Behind This Wall

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars Hackney
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
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A cool cocktail spot where vinyl rules.

Nothing stays secret for long in Hackney these days, but still, I like the speakeasy spirit of Behind This Wall, a new bar squirrelled away down some stairs and a big old curtain on Mare Street (phew! No actual walls to clamber over). Most surprisingly of all, this cocktail-and-poke (Hawaiian bowl food) joint is smack-bang on the main high street.

BTW began as a club night at deceased basement venue Plastic People, where it provided a safe haven for record enthusiasts. Vinyl was king, and so it is here, with one single plate taking pride of place next to the bar and a Tannoy Gold soundsystem creating the kind of atmosphere musos crave. One of the team was gleefully playing tunes, glass of red in hand.

You’ll probably want to plug into the cocktail list, though. Stick with the classics – I could have ordered manhattans all night: so syrupy, with just a sweet lick of vermouth. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, try the shorty menu (layered ‘pousse-café’ digestifs, designed for slower sipping).

Some will find the minimal decor a bit too, well, minimal – all rough wooden edges, so forget about comfort. And on our visit the room struggled to warm up. Fine for a club night, but cocktail bars are a different story. Take note: things now shut down at 11pm, so be sure to line up the vinyl back home for that after-party.

By: Laura Richards

Posted:

Venue name: Behind This Wall
Contact:
Address: 411 Mare Street
London
E8 1HY
Transport: Hackney Central overground
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Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:13
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|14
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tastemaker

The first thing to mention about Behind This Wall is how difficult it is to find. If it wasn’t for knowing the building number, and a helpful shop nearby displaying its street number, I probably would have walked around for a lot longer before finding it.

Keep your eye out for a black sign with ‘BAR’ written on it with, the giveaway, a small key symbol in the corner. Under the sign you will see a staircase which, if you follow it down, takes you to a minimalist bar with plywood-style all in one seats and tables, and a bar. It doesn’t look like much from first impressions but, I’m very glad I found it.

We started with some cocktails. Alex Harris, co-founder, head bartender and chef, has devised the cocktail menu to blur the boundaries between food and drink, with many of the cocktails reading like a gastronomic experience. We started with two ‘Aperitifs’ – the menu has been structured so drinks are grouped by the time of day.

The Providence Martini made with wormwood vodka, dry vermouth, orange amere and served with a cranberry and lime olive was a strong drink to start the evening but a delicious take on a martini. The cranberry and lime olive at the end was not what I expected, and burst in your mouth leaving a tangy, zesty flavour.

Next a ‘Highball’. The Uncle Buck, made with aged rum, ginger, naga chilli molasses, mole bitters and root beer was not a cocktail for me. It tasted, sadly, like a bad cough syrup making it quite unpleasant to drink.

The food swiftly followed this, however, and more than made up for the disappointing Buck. Starting with half-dozen oysters covered with a light salty foam was a very good way to start the meal. Creamy and plump, delicious.

We were then served the combination oyster poke – why go for one when you can try a combination? A pumpkin ‘oyster’ sat on top of black rice with a switchel glaze, lime pickled onions, lemon sea food, Chesapeake seasoning, toasted pumpkin seeds and some clam chowder.

The pumpkin oyster I had expected to have the texture of an egg yolk but, I was pleasantly surprised. It was quite well set and when mixed with the foam and the rice created a sticky, salty, tasty mouthful. The black rice was al dente but gave the dish a nice texture and the lime pickled onions adding some tang. All in all, a very tasty dish.

Although I agree that the maple candied fruits and Vermont cheddar did work together, the measly thin slices of cheddar dried very quickly, so were quite disappointing.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in Behind This Wall. Interesting and tasty cocktails that each come with their own little surprise, accompanied by a simple but well prepared selection of unique bar snacks creates a great experience. The menu does change pretty regularly though so keep an eye out for new foodie offerings.

If you find yourself in Hackney with a friend looking for somewhere to go, I would recommend you seek out Behind This Wall.

tastemaker

Absolutely quality cocktail spot and really have to mention how informative/pleasant the staff are. The menu is creative but a little alternative in parts. When you're ordering a Soju spritz with K-yoghurt as a key ingredient, guidance is certainly welcome. The music selection was great, and it's a well-hidden, intimate venue. 


I'm a newbie in the neighbourhood so I was pleased to learn that this very handsome, very cool and very cosy bar is literally a stroll away. I tried their new winter menu last night and it's impressive - cocktails are broken down into three categories (apertif, highball and digestif) with snacks and small dishes to match. My faves? The Negroni-ish 'Campaign Trail' with  lemon sorbet foam and the red mullet with yuzu creme fraiche, served on a block of salt. I gotta show love to the 'poke-dogs' too, which were technically buns that come in beef or sweet potato. Get the 'mix' so you can try both. 


I love this local bar. A unique and interesting selection of cocktails and wine. The staff are always super friendly and happy to be there and the music (especially) when Miro Sunday Musiq plays, sets the whole mood! Super cool!


I love this place! The staff are super friendly, informative and attentive and really care about the quality of what they are serving you, and how your night is going! Cocktails are insanely good and the food is really different - interesting, molecular cooking alongside really silky oysters. Great music policy. A personal favourite!


Incredible drinks that don't leave you hung over the following day. Top music selectors on a crisp sound system. Friendly atmosphere.


A contemporary/modern space that isn't trying to be a speakeasy (thank the heavens!) that serves reimagined classic cocktails using exciting new techniques. The Cold Smoked vieux-carré/mahattan hybrid (Vieux Over Manhattan?) is a particular favourite. Lovely staff to boot and a fantastic sound-system. Get down!


This place is absolutely magical. Super casual drinks spot with amazing beverages and lovely folks. Highly recommended little rabbit hole to get lost in for an evening.

tastemaker

As with all speakeasys, Behind This Wall is easy to miss. The door was open when I came here and I only found it because someone outside told me I had arrived! If you look very closely, you'll also see the name of the bar at the top of the door but it's pretty much invisible. Downstairs is a very snug bar. It's nothing fancy but that's where it's charm comes from. There are a few corner and side booths to sit in, as well as seats at the bar. There's not much space so it did get a bit warm but nothing that couldn't be sorted out by taking my cardigan off. I was lucky enough to attend a special event here, where the chef mixed up some speciality cocktails all themed around the Bloody Mary and Pickle Juice. It was such a great experience that I can't stop talking about it. The chef also informed us that all their cocktails are made with the purest ingredients, so no cocktails full of sugar or additives that don't help with hangover the next day. It made me realise that this isn't just your standard cocktail bar, it has something more to give. I'm definitely going back to try more of their cocktails and for the Oyster happy hour (all oysters £1!). If you want to impress your friends, give this place a try!


Behind this anonymous doorway lurks a wonderful alchemist.

It was a pleasure to host and attend the Time Out Card evening here at Behind This Wall.

We were treated to three delicious cocktails - all Bloody Marys - and with one secret ingredient : Pickle Juice. Big thanks to Alex ( pictured ) and Florence of The Pickle House. On a steamy evening in Hackney you made us welcome and introduced us to a whole new world of flavour. 


What a good find. Hiding away on what looks like a shopping area on Mare Street, near Hackney Central , this basement bar brings together good sounds and great cocktails. It probably doesn't hold more than 50 people. When I arrived it was early and empty, but the bar team made me feel welcome and I was soon joined by my friends and the after work set. The place was soon humming. We took an alcove , and settled in. It was our jumping off spot as we had a circuit to complete. This took in The Last Tuesday Society, The Natural Philosopher and Satan's Whiskers. In my opinion, three of the best bars on the planet. Now I am happy to add a fourth to my favourites in Hackney list. Behind This Wall proved to be the perfect rendez-vous. 


A great find in Hackney - been a couple of times already. Fun drinks with no artificial flavours! and always great music! 


Really really u go down some stairs and find this magic place get out from no where with magic drink as rum from Nicaragua or oyster with vodka super cool bar so happy we found this place have to visit