Down some stairs and, as they put it, “hidden beneath the Narrow Way,” you’ll find one of Hackney’s most intriguing little bars. Behind This Wall is a self-described “lo-fi bar with hi-fi intentions” offering up unique cocktail creations and immaculate vibes. All while music oozes out from one of the most unique sound systems of any bar, sure to make any audiophile weak at the knees.
Built and run by a group of friends, the bar occupies a space that used to be a Turkish Men’s Club. Leaning into clean Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetic influences, it’s considered, but far from stark. Handmade (by the team behind the bar) touches, and rotating décor in the form of works from local artists and photographers keep things relaxed and exciting. Much of the bar itself was in fact built by bar owner, Alex Harris, and his friends. It’s that personal, tactile connection to the bar from the BTW team, that gives the place it’s unique feel.
The personality of the team behind the bar is evident in everything that Behind This Wall does. There’s a zine with occasional cocktail recipes or event announcements, and musings ranging from record collecting to travel to mental health to mixtapes and more. And there’s something almost intimately casual about the relationship between bar and punters. There is no suggestion that BTW exists only as a bar, nor that the people behind the bar are merely bartenders. Far from it. They wholeheartedly want you to enjoy your time, whilst promoting the multi-faceted experience and existence of everyone involved in the bar. Behind This Wall has a personality. It’s thoughtful, but playful, silly, with a sense of humour running through everything, but also a sense of care and caring.
Drinking here is like a great party: an incredibly-stocked bar, great music, friends – new and old – all around you, and cocktails pouring.
So, how does the customer decide the menu?
Okay, so it’s not quite as simple as that. Or rather, it’s all the more simple. There is no menu. Simply make a request and they’ll build a cocktail to order for you.
You may be tentative at first, unsure of how to handle the sudden responsibility. I mean, sure, you’re used to ordering from a menu – that’s easy enough. But suddenly you’re at the bar and you’ve forgotten the name of every single cocktail you’ve ever drank. Start with the old favourite: the one you order every time – the Old Fashioned, the Margarita, the Negroni. And start off down the night’s journey.
At Behind This Wall there’s a carefully curated spirits selection, intended to elevate any cocktail ordered. As part of this approach, none of their ingredients contain artificial additives, colours & flavours, high fructose corn-syrup, or unnecessary sugar. (All praise necessary sugar). Owner, Alex, says “the pitch is ‘we’ll make you your favourite drink but with really, really good stuff’“.
After the first order, you’re sure to feel empowered and willing to experiment or go on a cocktail journey. Branch out with your order. Chat to the people behind the bar. Try something brand new. You’ll end up telling all your friends about the bar behind the that this wall, where there’s no menu.