East London, it’s been a minute. After being confined to the South for however many months (we all lost track after April, didn't we?), I wanted my first post-lockdown visit to this area to be a memorable experience. And damn, The Natural Philosopher was a solid choice. An Aladdin's cave of elixirs designed to cure all of your ailments with natural ingredients, this top secret bar is tucked away behind an actual working Mac repair shop, making it even more of a rewarding experience once you find it.
The space itself is full of curiosities; a mish mash of vintage furnishings, indoor foliage and risque drawings. The layout is pretty peculiar too. Once I’d gone past the shop and into the main drinking den, I realised our bartender was working in what could only be described as a sunken bar, reaching upwards to present us with our drinks and using a step ladder to reach the bottles that stretched up a shelving unit to street level. It was little quirks like this that really add to The Natural Philosopher's natural charm.
As its name would suggest, organic ingredients, foraged garnishes and natural flavours take centre stage. The newly-launched menu is made from cork and recycled paper, with features like bars to go afterwards (because community is key here), the option to buy a round for the staff or buy a drink for people who sit at your table after you. When it came to the cocktails? I couldn’t turn down the Macadamia (£9), made with vodka, salted strawberry and toasted macadamia, a deliciously nutty clear short that was boozy yet surprisingly smooth.
This was followed by the Pineapple Weed (£9), a bright green concoction with Singani 63 Bolivian grape spirit, pineapple weed, lime juice and vegan foamer. The result was a crisp, clean hit of fresh flavours reminiscent of health shop juices. Naturally, I felt the need to finish off with something a little smokier, so the Spirulina (£9) felt like the right choice with its combination of Smokey Monkey peated scotch, green Chartreuse, spirulina and lemon oils. Full-bodied with a slight herby taste, it completely satisfied my cravings before we bought a round for the bar staff and called it a night.
The DesignMyNight Digest
With its penchant for organic flavours and foraged ingredients, The Natural Philosopher is a neighbourhood gem serving all manner of natural elixirs that'll make you feel good (and it's not just because they're boozy). This is a hidden Bethnal Green bar that's well worth a visit, whether you need your computer fixed or not.