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Written by Luke Bull

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April 13, 2023

Our favourite Hackney bars

Hackney is the unrepentant beating heart of trendy London. The locus of the East London scene, the borough has become a byword for everything arty, edgy and, yes, cool. The bars in Hackney don't drop the ball in this sense. If you're wanting to have a few drinks somewhere dimly lit, surrounded by well-planned graffiti and beautiful people dressed all in black, you're in luck.

We've stomped the canalside haunts, trudged up Mare Street and frequented all the dives in Dalston to get an idea of the very best drinking spots in Hackney. Here's our list of the best bars in Hackney.

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1. A Hackney bar with no artificial flavours: Behind This Wall

Hackney, London

If the thought of a sugary, artificially-coloured cocktail is enough to send an e-number-induced shudder down your spine, may we introduce Behind This Wall. Tucked away beneath the Narrow Way in Hackney Central, you could easily miss this basement bar if you weren’t looking for it.

Lovers of the cool-but-classics rejoice - Behind This Wall pride themselves on their minimal, Scandi-Japanese aesthetic and menu free of artificial junk. A vintage sound system spins vinyl records as a soundtrack to testing out the seasonal list of first-class cocktails. Wine, beers and bar snacks of poke bowls and oysters are also on offer, and you can order Yard Sale pizza straight to your stool. Oh, and hire the whole space if you so wish, which would be very cool.

2. A Hackney bar to liven up your evening: U7 Bar and Lounge


For a place to let loose with your friends, head into the heart of Hackney to U7.

This waterside venue boasts a huge selection of craft beers and fine wines, with their mixologists whipping up unique cocktails.

If its speakeasy-style decor isn't enough, this sleek and jazzy venue is complimented by its live music. Whether you're into local bands or national artists, the stage here has seen it all.

Private hire is available for up to 250, so head on down for a comedy night or just relax and enjoy your favourite drink in the canal-side beer garden.

3. Hackney's multi-arts bar to hire out: EartH

Hackney, London

So it's not just a bar, but then why would we let that stop us from including it?

EartH Hackney is a multi-arts space in the heart of Dalston, bringing a community-led approach to showcasing the best of London's cultural highlights. It also has a bar, so that criterion is taken care of.

EartH Kitchen is their recently renovated space that offers up a great selection of food and drinks. The space itself is striking, with a mismatch of tube lights hanging over revellers, steel girders adorning the interior and floor-to-ceiling windows granting a view over the buzz of Dalston.

Private hire is a great option for this bar – with space for 300 and events space standard AV ensuring a smooth bar event in Hackney.

4. A Hackney bar for craft beer and artisan pizza: Crate Brewery

Hackney, London

The craft beer and artisanal pizza combination is one many Millennials cherish, and Crate Brewery has this match made in heaven down to a fine art.

The Hackney Wick canal-side brewery occupies a former print factory, and although today the space is more a purveyor of juicy IPAs and chocolately stouts than newspaper copies, they keep the industrial vibe alive. The inside space makes use of repurposed pallets and crates for seating (hence the name), while the huge outdoor area is perfect for al fresco chilling by the River Lea.

With resident DJs playing funky dance tunes, stone-baked pizzas and more fruity, malty, hoppy pints than you can shake a stick at, Crate also offers private hire options for your own exclusive Hackney canal-side event. Next round on you, yeah?

5. A Hackney bar with no wallies: Happiness Forgets

Hackney, London

Happiness Forgets is no stranger to success. The basement boozer, a now long-time staple of Hackney cocktail scene, has collected enough awards to have them displayed over every inch of its dimly-lit, underground, bare-bricked walls. But it doesn’t do that.

Proclaiming themselves as a simple bar with “great cocktails and no wallies”, Happiness Forgets provides just that. All attention is loving poured into crafting cocktails of the highest calibre, with plenty of “What’s that?” concoctions, whilst always revering the classics (Old Fashioned fans, make this your next port of call). And despite its global recognition, Happiness keeps its low-key, relaxed, almost divey atmosphere.

Never change, you beautiful thing you.

6. A Hackney bar for micro-brewery enthusiasts: Howling Hops

Hackney, London

Hackney Wick’s Howling Hops was born out of a strong love for brewing beer, and an equally strong preference for storing beer in tanks. Rather than opting for the typical keg beer method, Howling Hops is in favour of filling tanks with beer and connecting them to the bar taps. They tell us this saves them time on washing kegs, cuts down on carbon emissions, and ultimately leads to fresher, tastier beer.

We’re inclined to believe them, as although we haven’t tried every variation of pale ale, stout, IPA or sour they serve (they release new drops on the reg), what we have tried is pretty damn delicious.

The space itself is just off the beautiful Lea Valley trail and reminds us of a European beer hall, with long benches for indoor and outdoor seating, all the post-industrial warehouse vibes you’d expect from trendy Hackney Wick, and plenty of room to store your bike if you’re popping in for a refreshing drink after a scenic cycle. Sounds like a perfect weekend activity to us.

7. A Hackney bar for a prohibition scofflaw: Nightjar

Hackney, Shoreditch

So it's in Shoreditch, really, that scruffy, preening cousin of Hackney's rubbing shoulders with the city boys and Essex day-trippers just over the Regent's Canal. But some things are worth including.

The word “Scofflaw” refers to someone who ignores a law that is difficult to enforce and was named after the lawless drinkers who shunned Prohibition’s alcohol ban in favour of enjoying a few cold (and stiff) ones with their mates. Nightjar would be a suitable watering hole for such scofflaws.

The Old Street speakeasy-style bar draws you in with its dim lighting, extensive cocktail list and various trinkets to make you audibly “Ooh!”. When we say extensive cocktail list, by the way, we do mean it - these bartenders clearly are allowed to flex their creative muscles with their ingredients of choice (definitely ask for a recommendation if you’re overwhelmed).

Stay long enough to enjoy some of the best jazz musicians in London, but be warned it does get crowded in here, so be prepared to leave on a first-name basis with the table next to you. Alternatively, take advantage of their private hire options for 50-90 guests. You can even design your own cocktail menu, and they’ll help you source your own jazz, swing or blues band. Pretty cool cats if you ask us.

8. A Hackney bar for a late-night boogie: Ridley Road Market Bar

Hackney, Shoreditch

If you’re looking for a Hackney bar that’s a guaranteed good time, get yourself straight to Dalston’s famous Ridley Road, and look for the shack-style entrance with a fast-moving queue outside on a Saturday night.

Ridley Road Market Bar is a tropical-themed, shabby-chic event space that serves as a cafe by day with drinks and dance defining the night. Although a bit on the smaller side, the cocktails are frozen and five quid a pop, beers are cold and cheap, and the playlist is banger after banger.

They offer booking options for groups (inside, or secure some of the outside tables), and are available for private hire for your own exclusive dance party. Oh, be careful with the ginger mojitos. Trust us…

9. A Hackney bar to impress a wine snob: Sager & Wilde, Hackney Road

Hackney, Shoreditch

If you know anything about London’s wine scene, you’ve probably frequented Sager & Wilde on more than one occasion – and we don’t blame you.

The Hackney Road location manages to be cosy, dimly lit and intimate, while still having the cool vibe you’d expect from an East London bar - we’re talking exposed brick, re-purposed stool covers, and an extensive wine list that even your highest of high-brow wine snob friends wouldn’t turn their nose up at. Not to worry though, it’s not one of those pretentious wine bars.

The sommeliers are friendly, relaxed and set on finding you your perfect match in the form of a chilled red, dry white or skin-contact orange. Hire the space for a standing drinks reception with up to 50 guests – and please try the cheddar and spring onion toastie, for your own good.

More of the best bars in Hackney

Thinking of hiring a bar for your next event? Great idea. Hackney is known for its amazing bars. From busy tiki bars and cocktail bars with world-class mixologists to quiet and cosy garden bars, we've got every type of bar in Hackney for you to browse and book. Why not take the team for a corporate day out at an activity bar or have a birthday bash at your own exclusive bar? Have a look at these top Hackney bar venues and get some ideas for where to have your next event. Alternatively, tell us exactly what you need and we'll make sure the very best Hackney venues respond to your enquiry.

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How to hire a bar in Hackney

We know that finding a venue the old-fashioned way (where you trawl the internet, contact 10 venues or set your heart on one, only to find that they're out of your price range and not even available on your dates) is a pain, and there are a few pitfalls between you and booking your perfect bar. Getting the venue-finding process down to a professional art is what we’ve made our mission ever since we took on the events industry. We often get asked the same questions, so here's what we recommend to quickly and easily hire a space in Hackney.

Frequently asked questions

For bars in Hackney, you're spoilt for choice. Here are a few extra special ones that we vouch for:

Behind This Wall – For a minimal aesthetic and cool cocktails, look no further.

Nightjar – Stop by this speakeasy-style bar for a great night out.

There really is no one answer to this question: so many variables come into play when understanding the cost of exclusive hire of a bar or a private space in a bar. How many guests are you planning for? Is the venue for the day, an afternoon, or the night? The good news is that you can find a venue for pretty much any budget (okay, almost any budget). Instead of letting the venue dictate the price, our advice is to be proactive and set a budget that you feel comfortable with – this way the right venues can reach out to you through HeadBox.

There are lots of ways to book a Hackney bar. You can do the old-fashioned thing and pick up the phone, or email the venue directly. Unfortunately, lots of venues are busy and may not get back to you in time. That's where we come in. Give us your enquiry and we'll reach out to the best bars in Hackney and let you enjoy your free time. Easy.

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