Seven Pubs, Seven Sins: Lust

Next up in the Seven Sins pub crawls is Lust. This one takes a lovely stroll from Fleet Street across to Mayfair in search of pubs with rude and amusing names.

Start at Ye Olde Cock Tavern on Fleet Street and then make your way North past Holborn (cutting through Sicilian Avenue and the Whippet if you fancy an extra pub) to the Plough just by the British Museum. Both Greene Kings, they clearly like a dirty name.

Next make your way over to Oxford Circus and visit another Cock Tavern (not so Olde, this one) and the a little bit down the road to the Cock & Lion. Assuming you’ve had enough Cocks at this point, cross Oxford Street and find the Spread Eagle (yet another Greene King pub). A very short walk then down to Balls Brothers at the end of the road.

Finish the crawl with a little walk back to Picadilly and a trip to the Queen’s Head. A great independent pub and perfect spot to finish off the rest of the night.

Isla and Jura

Time to head out of London a little bit. Not so much a pub crawl as a distillery tour, but a great day none-the-less.

Isla is little more difficult to get to than our normal pubs, about 12 hours driving from London but worth every minute. Just make sure you book the ferry in advance, we ended up having to stay longer than expected but there are worse islands to be stranded on.

With 8 distilleries, and pretty much every else you could want from Scotland (beautiful scenery, wildlife, friendly people, even more whisky) all packed on to Isla it’s definitely worth a look. And as for Jura? 200 people, 5,000 deer and a whisky distillery. That’s one hell of a stag night.

There’s only one road that connects up the distilleries, so getting between them is pretty simple. Make sure you bring a designated driver though…

Seven Pubs, Seven Sins: Wrath

Wrath this week. Specifically, Steinbeck’s the Grapes of Wrath. More specifically, any pub with the name ‘grape’ in the title. And there are some great ones. Be careful though, heading through The City, not all are open on the weekends.

We recommend starting at the Hoop & Grapes near Aldgate. A lovely old pub, that missed being engulfed in the great fire but just a few meters. The name is an evolution of Hop & Grapes, showing that they used to sell both beer and wine (don’t worry, you can still get both).

Heading into the City, try the Bunch of Grapes, situated just be Leadenhall Market, under the shadow of Lloyds of London. Worth heading inside the market and trying the Lamb Tavern since you’re passing.

At this point, it’s worth heading south of the river. Over London Bridge you’ll find the Bunch of Grapes. Situated conveniently close to borough market for lunch (not the mention the Southwark Tavern and the Market Porter).

Back over Southwark Bridge at the bottom of Bow Lane (close to St Mary Le Bow church, home of Bow Bells and a stone’s throw from St. Paul’s) you’ll find the Planet of the Grapes. Not so much a pub, but a very pleasant wine bar with a great name. The same group also run FOX near Moorgate and have another Planet of the Grapes over near Holborn.

From here, continue past St Paul’s and up Farringdon street to another, equally charming Hoop & Grapes. Occasional home to Del the Pearly Minstrel if you’re looking for a proper cockney knees-up.

Finish off the crawl over in Mayfair at Ye Grapes, set in the corner of Shepherd Market. It’s a long walk, but if you get tired, at least the Seven Stars is pretty much the halfway point.

Tourist Trail

This is a pub crawl we put together a while ago for a friend visiting town. His first time in London we wanted to show him all the classic tourist sites but avoiding the tube and passing through as many pubs as we could find. A lot of walking, but a very successful trip. With school holidays ending, but the sun still shining it’s the perfect time to become a London tourist.

The full map is shown below, assuming you start at Liverpool St station and walk at a decent pace. Pick whichever parts work depending on where you are and what you want to see. In the end (due to a late train) we decided to skip straight to St Stephen’s Tavern (for a decent bacon sandwich overlooking Tourist TrailWestminster) and making our way back east along the rest of the route.

The Chandos, I have it on good authority, is pronounced “chandoss”, and doesn’t rhyme with Nando’s but however you say it is always good for a beer particularly given how close it is to Trafalgar and Leicester Squares.

Waxy O’Connor’s is a huge labyrinthic Irish pub, great to explore but don’t try and meet people in there, you could get lost for days. However, Waxy’s Little Sister over the road is the exact opposite, the elusive quite, cosy pub in the middle of town. Head upstairs and stay warm by the fire while ordering your drinks straight to the bar via a dumb waiter.

Whichever pub you choose, you’re directly on-top of china town so if you’ve worked up an appetite you’re spoilt for choice. Once you’re done head across to Covent Garden, admire the shops, street entertainers and the market or just head straight to the Nags Head.

Heading east along The Strand and Fleet street you pass the Seven Stars (another good choice for food), Ye Olde Chesire Cheese and the Blackfriar. Three of the oldest pubs in London and still all going strong.

Once you enter The City things can get a bit quiet at the weekends but thankfully there’s always a couple of pubs to keep things going. The Centre Page on Knightrider street is worth a visit for their collection of David Hasselhoff memorabilia if nothing else. Meanwhile, Madisons at the top of One New Change is a classic City Bar, the beers are small and expensive but the view of St. Paul’s is worth it.

If you’ve made it that far, it’s probably time to get back on a train, but if you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a weekday then we’d always recommend exploring some of the old lanes Old Doctor Butler’s Head and the Jamaica Wine House will get you off to a great start.

Seven Pubs, Seven Sins: Gluttony

Continuing the Seven Deadly Sins theme, this week’s crawl enjoys Gluttony. Enjoy a tasty stroll around central London exploring some of the more tasty-sounding pubs. Being sure to sample a few bar snacks to go with the beer, obviously…

There’s a lot of walking with this one (or, if you’re feeling brave, cycling) so pick a route to suit you. We’d recommend heading to Barbican and meeting at The Old Red Cow, with a great selection of craft beer. Head through the market and along Chancery Lane stopping at The Melton Mowbray. Since putting the crawl together this has become The Inn of Court but still does great pies so it’s staying in.

In the area we can also recommend The Old Red Lion, The Ship Tavern, The Cittie of Yorke or The Holborn Whippet – it has been a long walk.

If you make it any further from here, head north of Holborn station and check out the Bountiful Cow (for a beef-focused lunch) and the Square Pig.

Now the next leg; head down Kingsway, along Long Acre and through Covent Garden market (possibly with another quick stop off at the Punch & Judy, White Lion or Nags Head – all good choices) and then into the Maple Leaf. It’s a Canadian bar, so a quick pint of Moosehead, a selfie with the bear and time to move on.

Finally, for the home stretch, head down Fleet Street and the Strand stopping at the George – the restaurant upstairs is known as the Pig and Goose which is close enough for this crawl – and ending up in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

Wimbledon 8

A classic pub crawl retracing the steps of Oliver Reed.

The story goes that Steve McQueen flew to England to discuss a film project with Reed and they planned a night out. This turned into a marathon pub crawl that took them via the Hand in Hand, Crooked Billet, Fox & Grapes, Rose & Crown, Fire Stables, Brewery Tap, Dog & Fox and Finch’s.

Unfortunately, Finch’s and the Brewery Tap have since closed. We’ve introduced the Swan as a decent bird-themed substitute for Finch’s and the Hand & Racquet for the Brewery Tap. The Hand & Racquet is little out of Wimbledon village, but conveniently on the way from the station so makes a great meeting point.

To keep pace with Mr Reed, you should aim to drink a pink within 15 minutes in each pub and complete two laps. We’d recommend sticking to one lap, taking a more leisurely pace and enjoying the surroundings on a summer weekend.

Seven Pubs, Seven Sins: Pride

We all know that drinking is a Sin, so while you’re at it why not enjoy a couple more… here’s the first in a series, introducing our “Seven Pubs, Seven Sins” collection. ‘The Red Lion’ is often claimed to be the commonest pub name in Britain*, whether that’s true or not it certainly didn’t prove difficult to find a pride in London.

We recommend starting in Kennington – The Old Red Lion is beautiful pub with a good range of ales on tap and a refreshingly varied menu. Walk north (resisting if you can, the equally great Dog House and Black Prince pubs just around the corner) until you meet the river then work your way through the rest finishing at The Old Red Lion just by Holborn station and sampling (if you dare) their fine selection of whiskys.

There are plenty of other Red Lions around London that didn’t make the list, but if you want to keep on crawling in the same area then we recommending switching to the Sam Smith Pub Crawl and taking in The Princess Louise or Citie of York.

*There’s some debate but our money’s on the real winner being ‘The Crown’.