A little while ago, while cycling home, I went past a building in Waterloo which seemed to have added a blue horse on the roof. I’d really like to say I worked out what it was. I didn’t. Instead, a few days later I got drunk in Waterloo one Friday after work and saw a sign to a bar I hadn’t seen before. I decided it was as good a place as any to try out. That’s how I worked out why there’s a blue horse on a roof in Waterloo.
It turns out that bar is Bar Elba, a new rooftop bar in Waterloo, on the 4th floor of the Mercury building. It’s run by the Adventure Bar group, who also own Tonight Josephine on the ground floor of the same building. This is their second Napoleon themed bar. Tonight Josephine is based on the story of his wife Josephine, and Bar Elba comes from the story of Napoleon’s 300-day exile on an island off the coast of Italy. It’s said that he took one hundred of his friends and his favourite horse to the island. Then he spent the entire time partying. The proximity to Waterloo station helps with the theme too.
Once you get to the top (and keep in mind that you have to climb the four flights of stairs without the aid of a lift, possibly not a bar for crazy heels?) you’re greeted by a pretty awesome view of the London skyline. Would it beat the views from the Shard or even Rumpus Room? Nope. But it’s still pretty special in its own way.
Unlike a lot of the bars run by the Adventure Bar group, Bar Elba didn’t have the best cocktail range I’ve seen. In fact, there were around ten cocktails to pick from. A few of those, like Violet Femme, I’ve seen downstairs in Tonight Josephine. That’s a real shame because one of the good things about the Adventure Bar group is that they’re quite, well, adventurous. To make matters worse they’d run out of Aperol, so we couldn’t even start with an old favourite.
We started with glasses of frosé. I know, I know, paint me basic and all that, but it was good. It was mixed rose mixed with strawberry puree and agave and it was pretty brilliant, to be honest. But then, I am a complete sucker for anything that comes from a slush puppie machine. It was pretty much the perfect cocktail for a rooftop bar.
The other cocktails we had weren’t quite so good. I had a French Letter – a mix of vodka, white wine, sugar and soda. It didn’t really taste like anything. I swear the barman must have just given me a glass of water. And to make matters worse, when the general manager forced himself to have a chat with me and asked me how my cocktail was and I replied “I don’t think much of it”, he looked at me like he couldn’t quite comprehend what I’d just said.
One of the best things about Bar Elba is that Dip & Flip burgers have taken up residency there. Meaning you can chow down on dirty burgers while you sip pretty cocktails. That’s the kind of place you can get behind.
We all ordered the bacon cheeseburger. Everything about it was dirty enough to make you want to only eat salad for the next month. Still, it was pretty awesome and I regret absolutely nothing. Even the squeezy cheese that came on the top.
Would I go back?
Definitely. It was clear when we visited (merely days after Bar Elba first opened) that they were still suffering from a few opening teething problems. They’d run out of a couple of drink options, staff were having to lug blocks of ice up the four flights of stairs and the queues were a little too much. But there’s nowhere else quite like it in Waterloo. The drink options are still pretty good, the food option was incredible and I’m a big fan of the frosé too. I’m definitely going to head up there a little earlier next time!