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Written by Mae Bristow - 21 March 2024

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. The traditional British pub with a Scandi vibe: The Kenton

Hackney, London

Arguably the neighbourhood favourite. Located just a 5-minute walk from Homerton Overground, at the intersection of Valentine, Gascoyne, and Bentham Roads, you can’t miss the bright yellow pub that is the Kenton.

Another traditional East End boozer but with little Scandi touches – like the flag of Norway mixed in amongst the eclectic antique decorations, or, you know, the Norwegian moose head mounted on the wall.

There’s a great beer garden, old armchairs you won’t want to move from once you sit in them, and Norwegian beer called Moose Juice – and you can order Yard Sale Pizza to the pub to enjoy along with your beer and board games. There isn't much else to say, the Kenton is undisputedly one of our favourite Hackney bars for having everything we could possibly want or need in a pub.


2. The Hackney bar for an afternoon session: The Cat and Mutton

Hackney, London

The Cat and Mutton couldn’t ask for a better location situated on the corner of Broadway Market and London Fields. It’s the kind of pub you hole up in for an afternoon after a stroll through the park or a weekend shop at Broadway Market.

Occupying two floors in a Victorian brick building, the pub has wooden pillars, floors, and ceilings in relief, all with rustic coats of paint in blue-grey, lavender, and yellow, accented by patterned wallpaper and velvet furniture in Victorian greens, blues, and oranges.

With an upstairs dining room ideal for private parties, the Cat and Mutton is equally great for a Roast Dinner on a Sunday or to simply kill time over a pint or two. It has that laid-back vibe we look for in a pub for an afternoon session or less heavy night.

Behind this wall hackney bars 3
Behind this wall hackney bars 2

3. 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.


4. The Hackney bar for lovers of the macabre and all things Victorian gothic: The Last Tuesday Society & Absinthe Parlour

Hackney, London

Located on Hackney’s central Mare Street, The Last Tuesday Society is an unashamedly gothic bar, decorated with curiosities from near and far that would make any Victorian collector envious. And yet, the Hackney bar manages to be quite a chill spot despite the macabre curiosities – or maybe we’re just into it.

The Last Tuesday Society is actually one of our top picks for a private event if you want a space that offers something wonderfully bizarre. They make banging cocktails alongside serving absinthe in the traditional drip fountain manner, as a highball, or in a cocktail.

Lastly, you should book a tour of the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & UnNatural History in the basement. We recommend a little absinthe first and then the tour! Descending their spiral staircase will feel like falling into Wonderland.

Crate brewery headbox hackney bar 1
Crate brewery hackney bar 2

5. 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?

6. 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.


7. The cocktail bar for hip-hop lovers: Satan’s Whiskers

Hackney, London

Satan’s Whiskers is easy to unwittingly walk past. It’s technically a Hackney threshold-dweller, located on Cambridge Heath Road, between Hackney and Bethnal Green, and looks like any other graffitied facade you find dotted around East London.

Inside, the cocktail bar has opted for mood lighting, creating an intimate space, with exposed brick walls and antique prints for spirits and taxidermy on the walls.

Satan’s Whiskers has been on lists of top 50 bars in the world, and their passion for classic cocktails – with a daily changing menu – means they’re one of our favourites in the East End. We also appreciate a damn good hip-hop soundtrack and let it be known, so do Satan’s Whiskers.

Happiness forgets hackney bar 1
Happiness Forgets Interiors

8. 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.

howling hops hackney bars 2
howling hops hackney bars 2

9. 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.

Nightjar headbox hackney bars 1
Nightjar headbox hackney bars 2

10. A Hackney bar for a prohibition scofflaw: Nightjar

Shoreditch, Hackney

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.

Ridley road market bar hackney bar
Ridley road market bar hackney bar 2

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

Dalston, Hackney

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…

Sager and wilde hackney bars 3
Sager and wilde hackney bars people

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

Shoreditch, Hackney

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.


13. The cocktail bar for those who appreciate foraged ingredients: The Natural Philosopher

Hackney, London

It would be safe to say East London is still enamoured with its Victorian past. Located on Hackney Road, just a 5-minute walk from The Last Tuesday Society, is another Hackney bar of a slightly different 19th-century flavour – The Natural Philosopher.

The basement cocktail bar, decorated in antiques, is less Victorian Gothic mysticism, and more resembling a Darwinian study. The armchairs lend themselves to deep pondering; what would the Victorians think of a Negroni? They’d probably want to put laudanum in it…

The shine of the Natural Philosopher is in their cocktail menu inspired by, you guessed it – natural philosophy. The Hackney bar has carved out a niche using foraged ingredients from 8 different terrains around the UK. We like their dedication to the natural world. Though it is strange that they’re hidden away behind an Apple Mac repair shop with an antique facade and lettering. But then, we like strange!

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

Hackney, London

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.

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

Hackney, a vibrant borough in East London, is known for its eclectic mix of culture, creativity, and a thriving nightlife scene. If you're planning an event or a night out in this trendy neighbourhood, renting a bar can be a fantastic choice. This guide will provide you with valuable insights and tips to help you find the perfect bar for your occasion, whether it's a birthday bash, a corporate gathering, or a night of celebration with friends.

Define your event

Before embarking on your quest to find a bar in Hackney, it's essential to define the nature of your event. Are you hosting an informal gathering, a themed party, a product launch, or a wedding reception? Understanding the purpose of your event will guide your choice of bar.

Set a budget

Establishing a budget is a crucial step in the bar-hiring process. Hackney offers a wide range of bars with varying price points, so knowing your budget upfront will help you streamline your options and make planning more manageable.

Online platforms

There are an endless amount of websites that will provide you with a rundown of the best bars in Hackney. It can often feel overwhelming to search through these sites. That’s why at HeadBox we work with the best venues and will circulate your event details directly to them. You’ll hear back from trusted venues that have availability and cater to your event. If only it was always this easy.

Location considerations

Hackney is a diverse borough with various neighbourhoods and districts. Consider the location carefully based on your guests' convenience and accessibility. Whether you prefer a bar near Hackney Central, London Fields, or Shoreditch, the location can impact the overall experience of your event.

Capacity and space

Determine the number of guests you anticipate attending your event. Hackney bars come in various sizes, so it's essential to choose a venue that can comfortably accommodate your group. Be sure to consider both indoor and outdoor space options.

Amenities and services

Identify the amenities and services you require for your event. Some bars in Hackney offer private rooms, catering services, dedicated bartenders, sound systems, and more. Discuss your specific needs and preferences with the venues you consider.

Ambience and theme

The ambience and theme of a bar can significantly enhance your event's experience. Whether you desire a rustic, industrial, or quirky atmosphere, Hackney bars come in diverse styles. Choose a bar that aligns with your event's theme and vibe.

Entertainment options

If you want to add entertainment to your event, inquire about the availability of live music, DJs, or other performance options at the bar. Some venues offer the flexibility to bring in your own entertainment, while others have in-house options.

Licensing and regulations

Familiarise yourself with the licensing and regulations related to hosting events in Hackney bars. Some bars may have specific rules about closing times, music volume, and other event-related factors, so it's important to be aware of these.

Booking and reservations

Once you've found the ideal bar for your event, don't delay in making a reservation. Popular bars in Hackney can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons and weekends. Confirm the availability and secure your booking as soon as possible.

Hiring a bar in Hackney, London presents an exciting opportunity to host an unforgettable event in one of the city's trendiest neighbourhoods. By following these steps and dedicating time to plan your event carefully, you can ensure its success. Hackney's diverse range of bars ensures that there's something for every occasion and aesthetic preference, so begin your search and secure your venue to make your event memorable in this dynamic part of London.

Frequently asked questions

Hackney bars are versatile and can host a wide range of events, including birthday parties, corporate gatherings, weddings, art exhibitions, product launches, and more. The possibilities are endless.

Booking in advance is advisable, especially for popular venues or during peak seasons. It's recommended to book several months ahead of your event to secure your desired date.

Many Hackney bars are equipped to accommodate DJs and live bands. Discuss your entertainment preferences with the bar management, and inquire about any technical requirements or additional fees.

Parking options in Hackney can be limited. Many bars may not have dedicated parking, but there are public parking options nearby. It's advisable to inform your guests about parking choices or consider arranging transportation services as needed.

Most bars in Hackney allow you to decorate for your event. However, you should communicate your decoration plans with the bar management and follow their guidelines, which may include restrictions on certain types of decorations.

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