The Napoleon Hotel | London

While most of London’s social media crew have been cooing over The Ned (to be fair, it does look awesome), I’ve had my eye on The Napoleon Hotel, a single luxury suite in EC2A that shares an address with not one, but three fantastic bars. It’s the brainchild of those fine folk, Thomas Aske & Tristan Stephenson of Fluid Movement, who are also responsible for Purl (Marylebone), Whistling Shop Worship Street (Shoreditch), and Surfside (Cornwall).

The 40 sq/m room is, of course, equipped with a service elevator so that any of the bars can send up eats and drinks, plus there’s an extensive minibar that stocks the Aske Stephenson bottled cocktail range. Breakfast pastries and fruit also appear via the service elevator. I need to get me one of those. Now, I haven’t stayed in the hotel room yet, but I did manage to visit all of the bars in one evening. Scroll down for a closer look, or use the handy tab system on the right.

Sack Bar

Let’s start on street level with Sack Bar, a colourful sherry bodega with a penchant for 1970s disco. You can spill out on to Christopher St for al fresco drinks or a cheeky Venecia Layback, but you’ll find me at the bar nibbling on olives, serrano ham and killer bocadillos with a £4 glass of La Guita Manzanilla or one of their affordable wines by the glass. There’s also super cold Estrella Damm on tap and a short list of refreshing cocktails – Sack is definitely going to be a popular spot this summer.

The 15-strong sherry menu ranges from the almost savoury Fino, which is the colour of white wine, right the way through to the very dark and sweet Pedro Ximénez. Ready for some bluffing? I made these notes a couple of years ago, the last time I went to a sherry bar… Fino & Manzanilla are aged under a thin film of natural yeast called flor that prevents oxidisation, leading to the tangy, rancio, quality. Manzanilla is the saltier as it is cellared near to the sea. An aged Fino eventually becomes an Amontillado once the flor dies and the sherry begins to oxidise.

Oloroso meanwhile is matured sin flor so it has contact with the air throughout the maturation process leading to fuller-bodied but still dry sherry. They are often sweetened to become Oloroso Dulce or Creams. The Pedro Ximénez & Moscatel sherries are made from the sun-dried grapes of the same name and, as such, are pretty indulgent. But that’s enough technical talk – we can discuss the Solera system another time (N.B. not to be confused with the Sun & planets and stuff). Go drink some.

Sack Barsack.bar

9 Christopher Street, EC2A 2BS

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The Devil's Darling

Upstairs from Sack Bar, through a separate entrance on Christopher Street, you’ll find The Devil’s Darling. By day (or from 3pm) it’s a fairly formal looking cocktail bar, tablecloths and all that, but as natural light starts to fade, the multitude of lamps takes over and turns the whole bar a rather loud lime green. This makes for some rather weird and wonderful photos – see below.

As usual, I’d recommend that you sit at the bar so that you see the whole process that you are paying for. A complimentary coupe of bubbles is the first thing to arrive, over which you’ll peruse the daily changing menu (or “Recommendations of the House”) which features just three drinks. Of course, they will endeavour to make you anything that you fancy, as long its vaguely in the realms of classic cocktails. We lapped up two of the trio, both bourbon forward with some cognac and rum making appearances. The cocktails were tip top, and the hopsitality was bang on. Did I mention that everything is green?

The Devil’s Darling – napoleon-hotel.com

9 Christopher Street, EC2A 2BS

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Black Rock

Last but most certainly not least, Black Rock is a bloody brilliant basement whisky bar that set up shop almost a year before the Napoleon Hotel opened. Any regular readers will know that this is one of my favourite spots in London, not least because it features an 18ft oak tree table that runs the length of the room with house whisky blends permanently running through it. You can read more in my original write up here.

The service is second to none, the atmosphere is perfect, the whisky selection is superb and smartly organised, and the cocktails (created on a trolley with no bar in sight) are always on point. They’ve changed up the table blends since my last visit, and they’ve released a new drinks list focused on their six key whisky descriptors – balance, fruit, spice, smoke, fragrance and sweet. Whatever you go for, you are unlikely to be disappointed. N.B. They also have an enticing selection of bar snacks – think scotch eggs with peated hollandaise and baked oysters with beer crumbs.

Black Rock – blackrock.bar

9 Christopher Street, EC2A 2BS

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