The Black Heart

May 2, 2015

3 Greenland Place, Camden, London NW1 OAP

What disappoints me the most when I enter a bar, is the lack of choice. There’s nothing more heart breaking than being passed some boring lager because the only thing that’s on the shelf is a bottle of Smirnoff. It also takes marginally longer to order when you’re trying to decide what you would prefer; Sol or Corona? Tough decisions.

This is why it’s always a delight to step into The Black Heart. The drinks menu is so vast that it needs three sheets of paper to list their selection. 12 bourbons, lots of tequila, mezcal and a spot of absinthe. It’s a bar where you will undoubtably find your favourite or try something new. There are a number of cocktails though I’ve never seen anyone order them, and their signature alcoholic slushis. I pass on drinks like these for the moment and opt for a Beesting Perry.

The Black Heart is easy to miss. Almost like a speakeasy, it can be found down an abandoned alley in Camden. If it weren’t for the number of majestic bikes opposite, I would have believed I’d been lured to my death. In the summer the windows are thrown right open, but on this dreary afternoon they’re shut and it’s dark inside. The place has a slightly pinkish hue that seems to flatter the most complicated of faces.

Lots of people flock to The Black Heart in a variety as wide as their drinks menu. You don’t have to be wearing a leather jacket or have mosh-worthy hair to fit in. I spot a typical rockabilly girl, a goth, a man in a suit and a couple of girls who look like they’re ready to exchange saliva in Tiger Tiger. There’s no attitude, no intimidation, just a welcoming atmosphere.

Clanging in the corner is a tiny kitchen. The man inside grumbles that they have no menu and only options of beef burger, pulled pork burger or ribs. It’s slightly pricey from what seems like a spare cupboard they try to make use of. £3.50 for just a basket of chips that are slightly dry and void of any flavour. Though the burger is hearty, it fell apart in my hands and resembled what you might find being handed to you at a neighbour’s bbq. Thankfully this is only one in a number of pop-up kitchens that the cupboard has hosted and won’t be the last.

The place is as chilled as their bar staff. Many are propped at the bar by their elbows, probably wondering what drink to have next. Upstairs is where the crazy happens. The venue is mostly used for heavier rock music and has enough room to shake your mosh-worthy hair around. It comes kitted out with a separate bar but you still have to head back downstairs to share the piss-stenched unisex toilets. You really need a nose peg for that area.

As I contemplate whether to try a Dude Abides or a Maple Bacon Old Fashioned, my friend is mesmerized by the neon crucifixes. The Black Heart is decorated like a plush heavy metal haven. I think any sort of person could enjoy it here apart from the festival-chic toilets. Which is why I’ve lost many nights (and days) in this bar with it’s drinks that are good enough to drown in.

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