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MAP Maison (Bar)

Picture of MAP Maison in Hackney, London

321 Kingsland Road, Hackney, London, E8 4DL
Cuisine: Bar
Tel: 020 7241 1441 | Email to MAP Maison | Transport: Haggerston | Write review

MAP Maison Review

Top 10 things to know about Map Maison cocktail bar in Haggerston:

1) To be considered worthy to join the ranks of London’s best hidden gem bars you must reside at the end of a dodgy alley; down a set of questionable stairs; in the attic of a forgotten warehouse; or along an indistinct section of the Kingsland Road next to a greasy spoon, a Ladbroke betting shop, and the worst Tesco store in the UK.

2) Ideally your front window must be obscured so that your hidden treasures cannot be ascertained by the casual passerby. Therefore, installing a vertical wall of plants as frontage should keep your secrets safe.

3) Interior decor is key to your superiority as a clandestine cocktail bar. It must be impossibly dark, except for the mandatory filament light bulbs, and everything must be exposed, reclaimed, or upcycled. The more incongruous, the better; surreal Salvador Dali paintings next to dusty antlers, tarnished mirrors, and antique tinctures and potions. A rose gold, gilded ceiling leading past a charcuterie station and beyond, to only time will tell.

4) The music policy must always be funky, meaning the trajectory of an evening starts at northern soul, and travels through old school jazz, soul, blues, hip hop, and afrobeat.

5) And the service should have the same gleaming teeth and flirtatious chattiness as one would expect from a top bar in Mayfair, only with east London tattoos and/or a beard.

6) Your cocktails should have smug, millenial-satisfying names such as Netflix Original, Tikka Me Fancy, The Stormzy, and El Presidente (a man-about-town sort of cocktail that Frank Sinatra would have drunk a lot of, had he lived in Haggerston). Avoid creating cocktails that are too sweet or syrupy. Start your guests with something light, such as the vibrant green and creamy East Meets West, then usher them towards the smokey, the Japanese and the theatrically constructed. A dangling, science lab, bulb of glass decorated with a flower and a metal straw should suffice. Failing that, settle for a piece of objet d’art made of 28 sides and with a tree sticking out of it.

7) It’s also imperative to have a niche that puts your fantasy cocktail bar in the minds of specialist drinkers. Therefore, round up one of the best selections of Japanese whisky in London - six pages of the stuff (!!) - ensuring a number of Nikka, Suntory, Hibiki, and Eigashima Akashi whiskies are on display in a resplendent cabinet.

8) Offer true cocktail enthusiasts a chance to experience something uniquely special with masterclasses in gin, whisky, mescal and tequila; afternoon tea from Friday to Sunday; or, if they’re exceptional well behaved, access to your private basement speakeasy bar. Hush, hush.

9) A succinct but light, snackable food menu will help to keep the clientele from wandering off in search of sustenance. Throw some addictive rose harissa nuts, Nocellara Sicilian olives, and Iberican ham at them as a distraction.

10) Lastly, position your wide-ranging clientele around your compact space in such a way as to maximise your potential as their new favourite bar. Young, beautiful, Instagrammers should lounge on the plush, red velvet banquettes towards the front; serious lonestars and cocktail fanatics should be scrutinising every drink being made at the brass-top bar; and giggling hen parties should congregate towards the rear. Also, dim your lights at 8pm and add fake candles to the tables, keeping romance levels high, and guaranteeing your inclusion in next week’s “great place for a date” conversations at work.
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