If you are looking to improve your street cred, it doesn’t get more trendy than heading to a bar in Hackney, where there is no name of the bar advertised. You go down a dark staircase and the bar isn’t behind a wall, but a thick velvet curtain. The site was formally a luminous pink Turkish Social club, thankfully they’ve taken time out to renovate the whole venue. The owner of Behind This Wall, Alex Harris has gone for a minimalist Scandinavian look. There is a clean white-tiled bar and plenty of plywood furniture on display. The design is slightly rough and ready in terms of looks, but is perfectly in keeping with vibe of a classic Hackney bar.
The highlight of this neighbourhood bar are their carefully crafted cocktails. The attention to every last little detail in the construction of the cocktails are commendable. The classic gin fizz is giving a touch of spiciness with the raj gin fizz here, we have an added botanical of saffron in the gin, there is a hint of smokiness with the bourbon vanilla soda and a creamy decadence from the egg white.
The Indian sub-continent influence is also in evidence with Ike’s G&T, which uses cardamom tonic along with the gin and hopped grapefruit bitters.
They have a fascinating take on the Bloody Mary with their Hail Mary cocktail, which uses Blended scotch, clam chowder oyster, garam masala extract, Chesapeake seasoning, tomato, beetroot and celery juice, pickle juice, lemon sea-foam, timut pepper. It’s an oh-so-familiar creation which yet still feels so different with the use of exotic spices.
It’s unusual to offer oysters as a bar snack to match with cocktails, but somehow it manages to work especially matched with a cocktail like Hail Mary. The oyster poké was possibly too gastronomically advanced for my taste. With a traditional poké, you would expect a raw fish salad; there was plenty of healthy al dente rice, but low on the vegetables or fish.
Behind This Wall also plays some great music in the evenings on traditional vinyls. They have installed a glorious 1970s Tannoy Gold sound-system, a rotary mixer and a Technics turntable. On the night of our visit, there was a very happening birthday party with most of the guests gyrating along with the music. This secretive bar should be high on your list of places to visit next time you are in Hackney.