Alternative Pub Crawls: 12 Days Of Christmas

By Londonist Last edited 84 months ago
Alternative Pub Crawls: 12 Days Of Christmas
The Drum & Monkey, Archway
The Drum & Monkey, Archway
Inside the Drum & Monkey. Nice to know.
Inside the Drum & Monkey. Nice to know.
A pint of Adnams in the Crown and Goose.
A pint of Adnams in the Crown and Goose.
The Royal Opera House. Closed. No Ladies Dancing here.
The Royal Opera House. Closed. No Ladies Dancing here.
A lady almost dancing near the ROH. We turned her sideways to make her look more drunk.
A lady almost dancing near the ROH. We turned her sideways to make her look more drunk.
Outside the Crusting Pipe.
Outside the Crusting Pipe.
Bottle of Meantime and menus in the Crusting Pipe.
Bottle of Meantime and menus in the Crusting Pipe.
Blurry photo of outside French House.
Blurry photo of outside French House.
Photo from the French House (we worked out the violinist was in the pub when the photo was taken).
Photo from the French House (we worked out the violinist was in the pub when the photo was taken).
The Lord Clyde, in all its Victorian glory.
The Lord Clyde, in all its Victorian glory.
Christmas decorations in the Lord Clyde
Christmas decorations in the Lord Clyde
Looking up the Ring.
Looking up the Ring.
The Dove. Our final stop for the night. Peace.
The Dove. Our final stop for the night. Peace.

Is it possible to do a 12-stop pub crawl around London, with each pub named after one of My True Love's gifts? You betcha. Well, sort of. With an overactive imagination and a thirst for beer we took to the cold December streets on the trail of milkmaids, leaping Lords and golden rings. For logistical reasons, we couldn't tackle them in the correct order, but we still managed to get round the full dodecet of venues.

12 Drummers Drumming...
Our crawl started as a purposeful hike up Archway to The Drum & Monkey. We were greeted by more Sky Sports screens than customers, but it was midday after all. Finding nothing too exciting on tap, we instead plumped for bottled ales but then regretted it when we realised, too late, that we'd spurned a Guinness in an Irish pub. Maybe next time.

NOTE: The Drum & Monkey has now closed. Instead, you might like to try The Drum on the Leyton/Walthamstow borders. Or you might not.

6 Geese A-laying...
A brisk walk took us to The Crown & Goose in Camden Town. Still early, we appreciated the quirky decor and relaxed atmosphere often missed during the busy evenings. Drinks-wise it’s Adnams, Aspall’s and the stalwarts here, along with a temptingly hefty wine list – but being just two pubs in, we thought a glass of red might have been pushing it.  A passing homemade pie smelt pretty good, but we weren’t quite on schedule for a food stop yet.

9 Ladies Dancing...11 Pipers Piping...
After having so many problems finding somewhere appropriate to mark Nine Ladies Dancing, we were a bit annoyed to discover the Royal Opera House Amphitheatre Bar had closed an hour early. So we doffed our hats to the ballerina statue in the piazza and made our way to the Crusting Pipe instead. Slowly. Whose idea was it to visit a bar in the middle of Covent Garden on a Saturday afternoon two weeks before Christmas? Oh, right...

This Davy’s Wine Bar outpost was much less crowded than we expected; in fact, we easily found a table in one of the small alcoves and were pleasantly surprised to find a couple of Meantimes as the only beer option. Even the turkey in our sandwich had definitely seen a bird at some point, rather than the processing plant of a Bernard Matthews factory.

3 French Hens...
Soon it was time to move back out into the crowds, and onto French House. This is where the Free French drank during the war, and the walls are plastered with oh-so-Gallic photographs. Weirdly, the beer isn’t all French - there’s (Belgian) Leffe in bottles and Kronenbourg 1664 and a generic ‘French House Lager’ on tap, but they also sell Guinness and John Smiths Extra Smooth, better known for its popularity among gruff Northerners than for being quaffed by a Parisian with a Gauloise. They do sell wine and champagne by the glass as well as traditional French cider if you’re more inclined to settle back, rather than bolting a half (they don’t sell pints) and moving on.

8 Maids A-Milking...
Going from a pub that only sells halves, the barman at the Blue Eyed Maid on Borough High Street at first tried to insist they only sold pints. We have no idea if he was trying to impress the cadre of bellowing Newcastle fans in the corner, but he caved soon enough. This long, thin pub of no discernible distinction did not detain us much longer than that, and off we loped.

10 Lords A-leaping...
Round the corner, the Lord Clyde offered a much more welcoming pint (yes, pint...by this stage we were drunk enough to forget our half-measure-methodology), pulled by a charming couple straight from the Rovers Return. Like several other pubs in this area (see also the King’s Head) The Clyde manages to provide a welcome respite to elderly locals and fashionable youngsters alike. We cosied ourselves up with various real ales and real pork scratchings and could have stayed here all night. Certainly better than the House of Lords bar, our alternative choice if you can get in. But onward we must go...

Five Gold Rings...
The Ring in Southwark featured in our previous Lewd and Rude pub crawl, thanks to its sniggeringly rectal name. To those of a less smutty persuasion, the drinking hole is a tribute to boxing, and a famous ring once occupied the site of TfL’s Palestra building across the way. There’s a friendly young vibe in this place and a good line in Thai food. Real ales including Doom Bar and Hobgoblin kept us smiling. But here came a parting of the ways. The remaining pubs were all over in West London, so many of our number wimped out. A crack team of beer seekers set off into the night and on to Earls Court.

4 Colling Birds...
A ‘colling bird’, so we’re told, is another name for a blackbird. Hence, we could only go to The Blackbird in Earl’s Court. What to say about this Fullers corner-house? It was pleasant. The beer was nice. The decor was reasonable. It did everything exactly and precisely averagely — nothing to grumble about and nothing to praise. We didn’t linger long.

And a Partridge in a Pair Tree...
The Pear Tree near Charing Cross Hospital seemed like walking distance on the map. But 20,000 residential streets under the cold December sky later, we were beginning to regret the trek. Insult and injury were summed when, upon reaching our destination, we were turned away thanks to an all-hiring private function. Dastards. On we tramped, towards Hammersmith and our final two pubs.

7 Swans A-swimming...
The Swan is perhaps the biggest, brashest pub in Hammersmith, and markedly improved from its trashy days of yore. We took a seat upstairs after being ushered out of the dining section and settled into a pint of Landlord. You have to excuse any further lack of detail. After 11 drinks, our powers of recall were a little limited.

2 Turtle Doves...
We saved the best until last, visiting this quaint riverside pub a short walk from Hammersmith. The Dove is one of those London classics, like Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and the Anchor but, unlike its more centrally located brethren, does not suffer from a superabundance of tourists. While the place can get packed in the summer, we had a choice of seats at 10pm on a cold Saturday night. The full Fullers medley is on tap, and a roaring fire in the corner gave us the perfect toe toaster to round off the evening. Cheers!

Previous alternative pub crawls: Tudor boozers, Rude and lewd drinking dens, the Blue Posts, Scientific pubs, Shakespeare, Houses of Parliament bars, the East London Line extension.

Last Updated 22 December 2010

Jason B. Standing

Sounds like a hoot! I'm somewhat jealous that I spent the day confined to bed with bubonic plague, or something.

Wilko

Nice Patrick Hamilton reference.