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The Natural Philosopher

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars Hackney Road
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(5user reviews)
 (© Addie Chinn)
© Addie Chinn

A secretive bar on Hackney Road.

Please note, the Natural Philosopher has re-opened under new ownership. Time Out London Editors, April 2019.

We’ve had bars inside fridges, behind bookcases and through mirrors, so there’s nothing too shocking about Hackney Road’s The Natural Philosopher, which by night takes residence in the converted storeroom of a Mac repair shop. It’s one of those bars that you’ll need to be on the lookout for. When we visited on a Saturday evening there was no sign of life to give it away, as we were the only customers. But the two staff members we encountered – one of whom was the owner, James Manero – were so friendly that it didn’t seem to matter, and there’s a stack of board games in the corner if you’re keen to make your own fun.

After making your way down a set of stairs, the bar is found lowered into a well in the ground, which means ordering while peering down onto any potential bald spots. If the staff weren’t so genial, this could have become a bit awkward. An ageing rug on the floor, a grandfather clock and deep red walls give a retro feel, which contrasts nicely with the computer workshop upstairs, while a small room behind and below the bar makes an intimate cubbyhole for group drinking. Decoration down here comes courtesy of framed pictures of ladies with their knockers out (but not a penis in sight, sigh).

Their cocktails, which change seasonally, were mixed with care and originals are named after famous philosophers from down the years. The Lord Kelvin, for instance, is a lemony take on a gin sour. Plato’s Pisco was another winning sour, frothy with egg white and sweet from maraschino cherries. Thinking with your drinking, then.

Venue name: The Natural Philosopher
Address: 489 Hackney Road
E2 9ED
Transport: Rail: Cambridge Heath
Do you own this business?
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Dimly lit and atmospheric, with expertly mixed cocktails and kind staff. 

It was a bit of a BIG night out. 3 bars and a gig all within a few blocks. Satan's Whiskers first, then The Natural Philosopher , before heading to the Sebright Arms. Its tempting to try to rank them as each was different , but excellent. However, if points were awarded for BONKERS , The Natural Philsopher wins hands down. 

Go through the door and you feel you have just walked into a 1980s repair shop for Apple Macs. The sign says "Seat Yourself" so I did , by proceeding into the dinky back room with sunken bar. I don't think this place could hold more than 30.

Its got a great atmosphere - the staff are friendly and the cocktails don't disappoint.

Next time I am in the area this one gets a return visit.

A real find  

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