At times, the sheer proliferation of rooftop bars in London can be dizzying. Every year more and more arrive, jostling for attention – at some point it seems like every rooftop in London will be a bar! But, hey, we’re not exactly mad at that idea. One of the newest ones is found right in the heart of Dalston Kingsland High Street, attached to a craft beer brewery and taproom. With swaying palm trees, super fresh beer, charming cocktails, and panoramic London views, the Kraft Dalston rooftop is a much-appreciated addition to the rooftop bar scene.
Kraft Dalston will be a familiar sight to any beer drinkers (and gin sippers) who have frequented the brand’s bars across London’s Mercato food halls. They’re recognisable not just by their angular, Bauhaus-meets-Googie branding, but also by their on-site tanks and breweries. Each of their bars has its own attached brewery, bringing thirsty Londoners delicious tank-fresh beer. And while it might seem strange to have an individual brewery at each Kraft location, by eliminating packaging and transportation the brewery claims to reduce its CO2 emissions by an impressive 75%.
Their rooftop brings a more beer-aware presence to London’s collection of rooftop bars. It’s about more than just macro lagers here – and it’s much appreciated. Why has it taken so long for a craft beer-oriented rooftop to open? Who knows, but we’re sure this won’t be the last one!
A visit to the Kraft Dalston rooftop
Just this past weekend, I paid the place a visit on a gorgeously sunny, but swelteringly hot Saturday. Having already tried the brand’s beers at Mercato Metropolitano, and been very impressed by their Helles and Zwickel lagers, I was excited to see what lay in store at their new rooftop.
The stand-out at the Kraft Dalston rooftop, besides the view, is by far the beer. This stands to reason since they specialize in the most refreshing of beers: German lager styles. There’s surely no better choice for a sunny rooftop sip than a light, perfectly made, refreshing lager.
But if you’re not a beer fan, the Mezcal Mule is light, refreshing, and zingy, while the Watermelon Martini is perfect for those with a slightly sweeter tooth. They also serve a selection of gin and tonics alongside more cocktails and a brisk wine list. The G&Ts make sure of their own gin that is distilled on-site, Jim and Tonic. With choices like the Ruby (Rubee Rhubarb gin, elderflower tonic, raspberry and basil) and the Ciella (Mercato Mediterranean Gin, Indian tonic, orange and rosemary), even the pickiest of drinkers is sure to find something to sip at.
What I was particularly drawn to, as well as the beer, was the rooftop ceviche bar. And the Sea Bass Ceviche was a hit and a half. Wonderfully fresh fish was brought to life with a bright, citrusy dressing that we almost drank at the end. Almost. If it’s a sign of what can be found downstairs, with the full food menu, it’s likely I’ll be returning to try even more!
Direct or indirect sunlight?
This is the question that you have to ask yourself when you decide to visit. Do you want to sit in the sun, or enjoy the warm weather without being directly bathed by the sun’s rays? The south-easterly facing of the rooftop means that during the day it’s bright and sunny. The area’s relative lack of tall buildings ensures there’s no shortage of sunshine on offer.
When the sun starts to dip, you’re treated to a lovely sun-drenched view of London. Off in the distance, you can even see the Shard (which, through a trick of perspective, manages to look tiny). But it also means that the direct sunlight leaves the rooftop before the evening is over. By no means does it become dark early, instead it becomes shaded. Perhaps that’s exactly what you want, though, particularly on a hot day. It was edging 30°C when I visited, and the indirect sunlight kept spirits high without burning us to a crisp!
So, if you’re after the sunshine – come during the day and soak it all up. For sun-filled views in the comparative shade, head to the rooftop after six. You’ve got options!
Oh, and Kraft Dalston gets ALL of the extra points for being incredibly dog-friendly. In fact, your canine companion is welcome both in the main taproom and on the rooftop terrace. So you both get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Entry is free, but booking is highly recommended due to the number of spaces available on the rooftop.