Black Rock

9 Christopher St

Shoreditch, London

What is it? At the beginning of 2016, Tristan Stephenson and business partner Thomas Aske took over the basement of a fish restaurant in Shoreditch with the idea of bringing whisky to a new audience. A short time later, Black Rock opened its basement doors and quickly grew a loyal following of whisky lovers. The bar went down so well that the ambitious pair recently decided to take over the whole building, which is now home to sherry bar Sack, and The Devil’s Darling cocktail bar.

Interesting fact: The space at Black Rock is dominated by a 185-year-old oak tree which has been split down the middle to create a table that seats around 20 people. This is pretty cool in itself but they’ve also carved two channels down the full length of the tree trunk, then lined them with charred oak. This is covered with glass and filled with whisky cocktails which age while in the cask before being poured out through two taps at the top of the trunk.

Verdict: I met Tristan when he was a young bartender taking part in cocktail competitions around England. I instantly knew there was a huge drive and desire in him to achieve great things in the drinks industry. He and business partner Thomas have won numerous awards for their venues and Tristan is also an established author with six books published to date. The fact there is no bar here is not an issue, in fact I think it adds to the intimacy of the place. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about whisky, which makes it a must-visit for any lovers of Scotland's national drink.

Drink: You don't just find straight whisky here from a collection of over 250. They have also developed a range of innovative and delicious whisky cocktails and highballs which are based on the flavour profile you prefer. You can choose from balanced, fruity, spicy, smokey, fragranced and sweet with the recipes constantly changing throughout the seasons. My recommendation would be to try the fruit selection from the cocktail section of the menu, which is made up of American Bourbon, pineapple, nettle syrup and Drambuie.

Food: They offer a great menu of fancy bar snacks, including raw and baked oysters, veggie haggis balls. You absolutely have to try the scotch eggs, which along with the house pickled herring is made by the fair hands of co-owner Thomas Aske. The eggs come with a peated hollandaise sauce, which is incredible.

Children: No kids allowed, for obvious reasons.

Alfresco: No outside space as such but sister bar Sack has a few tables and chairs if you need a bit of fresh air.

Perfect for: This place is intimate and relaxing, it’s ideal for taking a couple of folks who have an interest in whisky here to get them even more passionate about this amazing spirit.

Avoid if: You absolutely have to stand at a bar to enjoy a night out and whisky is just not your tipple of choice.

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