Two’s Company, Three’s Brilliant | Sack, The Devil’s Darling And Black Rock At The Napolean Hotel, 9 Christopher Street, London
Hidden gems are our thing. London is overrun with bars – some good, some bad and some we have fallen head over in heels in love with, only to be left broken-hearted when they shut down (we’re talking about you, Bobby’s Bar). We went on a mini bar crawl of Sack, The Devil’s Darling and Black Rock – the bars at The Napoleon Hotel, with minimal crawling involved as all the bars are stacked on top of each other in a beautifully restored building just off Finsbury Square.
On the ground floor is Sack – a sherry bar with (very) little cow milking stools for seats and an easy to navigate sherry menu with a few sherry based cocktails thrown in for good measure. A really great spot and brilliant value – a perfect blend of Spanish and London influences, the kind of place you could happily visit alone or with a crowd of mates.
We went for opposite ends of the scale on our drinks, a sweet, syrupy Oloroso Alfonso (£4.50), for me and a more dry and crisp Fino Tio Pepe (£4) for Ade. Both great in their own right, as was the rather festive tasting Olé Fashioned cocktail (£7.50) with Palo Cortado, rye and sugar bitters. Ade made this last as long as he could – a sure sign of a drink well made.
Next up was The Devil’s Darling with a cute little speakeasy vibe, based on an opulent Russian drinking den with white tableclothed tables and communist USSR Cold War propaganda artwork on the walls. A record player belted out some of our most-loved hits with that nostalgic and somewhat comforting sound of vinyl crackle.
The service here was top-notch, we loved the way you’re automatically greeted with a dinky glass of Prosecco and truffle dusted nuts to nibble whilst you debate the menu, which doesn’t take long for there’s only three drinks on it – what a refreshing change.
We tried the Manhattan (Rittenhouse 100 and Italian vermouth, maraschino and Angostura bitters) and an East 8 Hold Up (Ketel One vodka, Aperol, pineapple, lime and sugar) – classically made with no fuss or frills. By the way, cocktails are priced from £11 to £15 and any classic cocktail available upon request.
Up some more stairs is the hotel room – yes, The Napolean only has one room but what a room it is. More of a small apartment with room to swing several cats, a little kitchen complete with its own dumb-waiter – so genius. You simply tick what you want from any or all of the three bars and they’re delivered to you in a jiffy via the service lift, best room service idea ever. Oh and there’s Netflix too, what more could you need?
Down in the basement we discovered our favourite bar out of the three (that’s if we had to choose, of course). Black Rock is the best whisky bar we’ve ever seen – OK, the only whisky bar we’ve ever seen. This was the busiest out of the lot, mostly with men in suits showing off or on a night out with their ‘niece’ but don’t let that put you off.
We have grown to love the dark stuff over the years and Black Rock makes it truly accessible and friendly. Cabinets are well stocked with a vast variety of whisky categorized by flavour and then by strength. Not only that, the long table (actually half an English Oak) in the centre of the room is filled with the stuff, ageing right there in front of you and poured out of a tap at the end – truly brilliant.
Actually all the bars are brilliant and all are unique. There’s truly something for everyone, don’t like whisky? Well pop upstairs for a sherry! Don’t like sherry? Then wander up to Devil’s Darling for an incredible cocktail or two. But what we’re really looking forward to is staying in The Napolean and ordering ‘room service’ from the service lift – bring it on!
Visit The Napolean Hotel’s site here
Visit Sack Bar’s site here
Visit The Devil’s Darling site here
Visit Black Rock’s site here
9 Christopher Street, Hackney, London, EC2A 2BS
Phone: 020 3633 1006
Nearest station: Liverpool Street Station (4 mins walk)
We drank as guests of the bars, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.