The Stag, a stone’s throw from Hampstead Heath, is the perfect Sunday afternoon retreat for those wishing to sample an eclectic British menu all year round. Its stern, blacked-out veneer belies the warmth to be found within; this pub is a hub for North London’s young and alive. The summer months are characterised by BBQs in the beer garden, while winter is kept at the door with convivial pub-quizzes and live music. Bar manager Alex leads his punters through all seasons with a wide selection of real English ales and ciders alongside European draft lagers and a respectable wine selection.
The Stag, 67 Fleet Road, London, NW3 2QU, +44 (0) 207 722 2646
The Drapers Arms
Located in the London Borough of Islington to the north of the capital’s centre, traditional watering-hole The Draper’s Arms is one of London’s most well-reputed gastro-pubs. This original mid-19th century establishment was opened to service the residents of the then newly constructed Lonsdale square which lies just south of the pub. Taking pride in the ever-changing menu and selection of wines and beers that he offers, current landlord Nick Gibson has won multiple awards for the hard work he does in service of London’s thirsty.
The Drapers Arms, 44 Barnsbury Street, London N1 1ER, +44 (0) 20 7619 0348
The Fox and Anchor
This original Victorian gin joint has recently undergone restoration to its former glory as an oasis for workers and pleasure-seekers alike. The Fox and Anchor sits between two of London’s most intriguing institutions, the goliath Smithfield meat market and the Barbican Center. Head chef George Dudley conducts the provision of British pub favourites such as sausage and mash alongside more eccentric offerings like the Maldon oysters, taken fresh from the Black Water river in Essex. Beyond providing sustenance for its visitors, the Fox and Anchor offers a range of lodgings, each of which borrow a theme from the pub’s rich cultural surroundings.
The Fox & Anchor, 115 Charterhouse Street, London EC1M 6AA, +44 (0) 20 7250 1300
The Bull and Last
Reputed to serve the best traditional Sunday roast in the city, another Hampstead institution, The Bull and Last, is a Grade II listed honey trap for hungry wanderers returning from next door’s heath. With the breath-taking views from Parliament Hill still fresh in their minds, the weather-beaten will find a range of seasonal food sourced from the nexus of London markets that has long fed the metropolis. The commitment to freshness even spreads from human to dog; chicken liver biscuits are made in-house to divert canine attention from diners’ plates.
The Bull and Last, 168 Highgate Road, London NW5 1QS, +44 (0) 20 726 73641
The Earl of Essex
Upon entering The Earl of Essex, the pub’s most striking feature is the giant hymn-board to the left of the bar. This beer-drinker’s gospel lists brews from Land’s End to John o’ Groats; from the pale to the hop-heavy, though the delights do not end there. Upon rounding the central bar, visitors stumble upon the proprietary Earl’s Brewery, tucked away yet in plain view to those who seek it. The pub’s menu boasts a fine Angus burger among other staples, and even goes to the effort of suggesting which beer from the ever-changing selection will best complement each dish. Though now benefiting from being a free house, the Earl maintains its link with London’s now defunct Watney Combe & Reid brewery through the signage above the bar, and so reminds modern beer enthusiasts of their debt to one of London’s most prestigious Victorian brands.
The Earl of Essex, 25 Danbury Street, London N1 8LE, +44 (0) 020 7424 5828
The Jerusalem Tavern
Flagship of the St Peter’s Brewery, The Jerusalem Tavern is one of London’s oldest surviving drinking dens. The Tavern opens its doors to those in the know every weekday with a range of St. Peter’s ales on tap along with food and coffee to fuel the City of London’s world weary. Having occupied several different sites since its 14th century establishment, the pub’s current environment is all nooks and snugs, the perfect setting for intrigue, conspiracy, and debate. The Good Pub Guide has in recent years bestowed the accolade of Town Pub of the Year upon the ‘JT’, and has recently been recognised by The History Channel UK alongside world renowned heritage sights such as St. Paul’s Cathedral in the story of London’s cultural foundation.
The Jerusalem Tavern, 55 Britton Street, London EC1M 5UQ, +44 (0) 207 490 4281
The Old George
Bethnal Green’s The Old George lends a contemporary spin to its 18th century tradition with the upstairs restaurant offering commendably affordable dishes such as ‘very slowly cooked rare beef rump, dripping & red wine shallots’ at the direction of head chef Sam Andrews. Theakston’s Old Peculiar is perhaps the stand out ale from cask, with its name giving often unheeded warning to those who set about its consumption with naive vigour. For those with a more sensible outlook, tamer ales, a good range of lagers, spirits and wines await.
The Old George, 379 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AN, +44 (0) 20 7033 9726
The Three Kings
Local legend has it that the three kings responsible for the nomenclature of the eponymous pub are in fact Elvis, Henry VIII, and King Kong. Given that the walls are covered with figures from popular culture past and present along with faux taxidermy, the eclecticism fits. It is a small place, though the limited size of the bar area seems to do little to perturb thirsty passers-by, especially in summer when the lack of beer garden is forgotten and the pavement on both sides of the road outside is covered with revelers. Yorkshire brewer Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Bitter will swiftly crown its drinkers with the self-confidence of three kings, though the genial atmosphere of this Clerkenwell hotspot will ensure that bravado is put only to good use.
The Three Kings, 7 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R 0DY, +44 (0) 20 7253 0483
To the south of the Thames The Montpelier is billed as Peckham’s liveliest pub. Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Rye Lane, the large bar commands a large catchment of savvy south Londoners on all nights of the week. The menu exhibits premium takes on pub classics, with all ingredients sourced from as nearby as is possible. ‘The Monty’ as it is affectionately known by its frequenters, does its bit to promote local breweries like Meantime of Greenwich and Sambrooks of Battersea while serving crowd favourites including the fabled Cornish Tribute. The local emphasis is, relatively speaking, continued through the wine list, though on something of a larger scale; organic old world wines take centre stage. Of course, for the abstaining few, Monmouth Coffee is available at all hours.
The Montpelier, 43 Choumert Road, London SE15 4AR, +44 (0) 20 7635 9483
The Windsor Castle
During its infancy in the 1830s, The Windsor Castle was perhaps the embodiment of the social segregation that characterised Britain of the time. Those deemed to be of social prestige were preserved in separation from the ‘lower classes’, and men were granted single-sex parlours to escape their wives. In 2014, the pub has a rather more universal feel to it, attracting a relaxed crowd from its bourgeois environs; Notting Hill, Kensington, and Holland Park. There is a magic to the beer garden where ostlers and coachmen once waited as the gentile medicated themselves inside. Ironically, it is this space with has become the pub’s most sought after, and the ideal spot to enjoy a crisp white with a plate of sea-bass, chickpeas, chorizo and cuttlefish.
The Windsor Castle, 14 Campden Hill Road, Kensington, London, W8 7AR, +44 (0) 20 7243 8797