I don’t want to be reincarnated as an author when I shuffle off, or change my career, which ever comes first, I just want to come back as a researcher for Londonist Drinks. This bright and breezy compendium of the city’s relationship to drink, alcoholic and the other stuff, is fun, informative… and mouth-watering – I’m thirsty and almost one hundred and fifty miles from the nearest boozer in the book! But while I consider how to remedy the distance problem, this is for you:
This cocktail of beverage knowledge is comprised of everything drink related in the capital from pubs to clubs, beers to cocktails, breweries to hotel bars, quiz venues to roof top vistas, historical fact to zeitgeisty trivia, tea and coffee to chocolate, and pub crawls. Full of entertaining detail and things to do – mostly alcohol related and it’s all playfully illustrated. I particularly like the instruction manual for afternoon or evening walks which can should be punctuated by regular stops for breathers at the various resting posts suggested for your convenience along the way, walks sometimes referred to as the crawl. This guide is a whole load of fun.
London is a city where whatever the activity you need a guide, it’s too vast, there’s too many things to miss it you don’t plan ahead. That’s really true of the pubs and bars of the city, Londonist Drinks fulfils the basic need for proper order in your sojourns. If you’re new to the city, or just visiting, this guide can help you maximise the experience. Dedicated returners and local imbibers will still find it helps you navigate the turf strategically. After all, there are over sixty categories in the book.
Beginning with ‘Pubs Named after Fictional Characters’ – The Artful Dodger, Tower Hill – ‘a comely, homely Victorian boozer’. Curiously although London Tower features in nine of Dickens’ novels Oliver Twist isn’t one of them. The Fourpure’s Oatmeal Stout at The Laughing Gravy is highly recommended. ‘Bars in Railways Arches’ – Bar Story – a ‘wallet-friendly Peckham cocktail bar has become a local institution’ with expertly mixed drinks. ‘Made in London’ – all of the below apparently: Cider, Saki, Mead, Wine and, of course Beer, want to know where? Read the book. ‘A History of Tea’ (coffee and chocolate will get their due later in the book). How to ‘Recreate Karl Marx’s Rowdy Tottenham Court Road Pub Crawl’ – only five of the original eighteen pubs remain (plus one new one) from the 1850s crawl but it’s recreating history! Then we are treated to 1920s spy hangouts (Claridges, Cafe Royal and curiously The Dolphin Uxbridge), sports bars (there are good ones apparently), peculiar interiors, 21 Red Lions, micro-pubs (no music, no TV, no mobile phones!), stations named after pubs, the best martinis, quality wine venues, the strangest names, kings and queens, the oldest, the smallest, the highest etc., gentlemen’s clubs (The Garrick, The Reform), the Oliver Reed crawl (south London), the blue post crawl, the circle line crawl, haunted houses, the workingmen’s clubs, and even fictional pubs. You’ll have to read Londonist Drinks to find them.
So on my new to-do list:
- Docklands Light Ale-Way
- Frank’s cafe, multi-storey car park, Peckham
- Blue posts crawl
- Toilets converted into pubs or cafes
Least likely to take part in:
- Hunting down the £22.50 pint of stout, it’s American.
- A family day out on £4,000 gin, of course, that may not be too rich for your blood!
So to finish, the recap cocktail:
1 part fun
1 part knowledge
1 part activity
1 part history/trivia
1 part non-alcoholic beverage
1 part spirit
1 vat of BEER!!
In the immortal words of London’s most famous entrepreneur, “lovely jubilee!”
Paul Burke 4*
Londonist Drinks: A Spirited Guide to London Libation
AA Publishing 9780749581961 hbk Oct 2019