Queen Elizabeth Olimpic Park, Hackney, E20 3BS
I love video games, I always have. As a ’90s kid I had the pleasure of growing up during the years of arcade gaming and seeing the first consoles come to life. Being in my mid twenties now, I am not ashamed to say I still play games on a regular basis. I now enjoy gaming as well as drinking, so if you also love alcohol and know what Street Fighter, Mortal Combat and Space Invaders are, there is a place I recommend to check out. Being the twin to the Four Quarters in Peckham, Four Quarters East brings gaming to Hackney.
It is Wednesday evening, and after a rough, hungover day the only thing I want is a drink in my hand. After a short walk from Hackney Wick station, I am happy to arrive at the bar. Once in, I immediately get a nostalgic reminder of my childhood. Plenty of ’90s electro music in the background, colourful lights and arcade machines everywhere. The bar is at the centre of the room, with tables all around and machines up against the walls. I notice that some of the small tables are actually also arcade machines, topped with a sheet of glass to be used as a surface. Three big tables on the side have various consoles plugged to a screen, which includes Sega, Nintendo and Playstation.
After a whole minute of pure nostalgia, I remember that I need a drink and head to the bar. I decide to try a gin, sherry, brandy, lemon and peach based cocktail named Thrilla in ‘Zanilla. As I wait for my drink, I notice there are a few good Japanese whiskeys and a good selection of draft beers, including Camden Hells, Camden Ink and Goose Island IPA to name a few. The bar also serves American-style food and burgers, but I don’t feel very hungry so I give it a miss.
The bar is pretty busy (although in my opinion nothing too unmanageable), and I get the most inexperienced bartender here. I suspect the barman is new to this trade as he kept checking the cocktail menu, looking at the ingredients he needs and asking his colleagues questions. After a bit of a wait, I finally get my drink.
With my drink in hand, I finally get to try out one of the arcade tables and sip my drink. As I try this cocktail I am very disappointed. It tastes like there’s hardly any alcohol. It’s very watery and the little bit of flavour I can taste is very bitter. I spot a number of drinks that look just like mine left half empty at the tables- clearly I am not the only one not enjoying it.
Next up I go for a second drink and give the barman another chance. I order the Atlantic Sour, with bourbon, port and lemon juice. This cocktail is a lot better, thank goodness. However, the only flavour I can really taste is the port, which is a shame as I would have liked to taste the bourbon as well.
A bit happier with my choice of drink, I choose one of the arcade machines for a quick game before going home. Every machine is fuelled by quarter dollars, hence the name of the place, which you exchange at the bar. I suck at my game and die almost immediately. So time to empty my bladder and head back to North London. I spend way too long in the toilet just staring at the beautiful posters of old games on the walls. I can’t stop looking at all the characters that once ruled my childhood.
Besides the amateur cocktails, The Four Quarters offers something genuinely different than the norm, so I would definitely recommend checking it out, either for a sentimental ’90s gamer like myself or to simply try something new.