Down South has gone north, with the latest outpost of Joe’s Southern Kitchen opening in Kentish Town – fully kitted out with all its signature trimmings, nibbles and tipples.
Head downstairs to Jailbird for the basement bar experience, and don’t worry, they won’t lock you in (plus the food is a million notches above prison swill). Notable faves on the menu include the mac and cheese, the crispy chips and saucy wings. This is messy business, so keep plenty of serviettes to hand and maybe leave the white shirt at home.
To drink, there’s a lot of bourbon and American whiskey on the menu, unsurprisingly, so we say stick to the theme. If you’re in the mood for something stirred down and brown then order The Assasin with Rittenhouse Rye, Chambord, Noilly Prat and Campari served up with a lemon peel. And for £12, you can have this drink plus six fried wings. *We lurve a good deal … particularly the £5 signature cocktails that are ALWAYS a fiver. Sorted.
Best Bars tip: Book yourself one of the booths, and settle in for a one-stop shop kind of night.
The Hare & Hounds is a neighbourhood boozer with international musical reach and some of the most forward-thinking club nights in the region. Two upstairs venues cover off everything from jazz to to comedy to D’n’B, while pub quizzes, home-cooked grub and weekend DJs keep both the old and new sides of the bar downstairs busy every night of the week.
We like the regularly changing guest ales and reassuringly sizeable selection of ciders for sunny afternoons which turn in to all-nighters. For a more conversational start to your visit, try the newly-renovated side of the bar where classic cocktails are now being dispensed.
Not a venue where punters generally stop in for just one — we’ve lost whole weekends to this Birmingham giant.
Best Bars tip: Sign up to the e-newsletter to avoid missing out on the next big musical thing. UB40 started here.
Brixton’s little market alleyways are absolutely filled with the best of what’s to come in London – see Honest Burgers and Franco Manca, which both made names for themselves down in Brixton Village. On the Market Row side, you’ll find Seven at Brixton, a tapas and cocktail bar that infuses south London with Spanish flavours.
Start with a cocktail – they’re seasonal, and we recommend a warm apple and ginger Daiquiri in the winter. It’s the upgrade on mulled cider you always dreamed of, with that welcome tangy spice. Summer rhymes with slushies to us, and they’ve got a moreish strawberry and vanilla one – try a ginger beer and basil Mojito if you’re not a fan of sweet drinks. Once you’ve got your drinks started, we predict a lengthy time staring at the tapas menu, so here are a few pointers: the pan con tomate and the tortilla are essentials. We’re also partial to the calamares – they come with an aioli that’s perfect for dipping bread and potatoes …
Tables are reclaimed desks, lights are hanging from cables and the booze is in suitcases attached to the walls. The ambiance is completely Brixton: relaxed and almost underdone, with the necessary bit of cool, but completely unpretentious. Weekends are busy with couples on dates and friends catching up – it’s the perfect spot for long chats over nibbles. And churros. Did we mention the churros?
Best Bars tip: Bring a group of mates and order a couple of the sharing platters – and they do special tapas menus for Christmas sit downs.
Located in a corner of Brunswick, this Hove establishment stands out from the crowd of high street chains and local shops with its striking Grade-II listed exterior. Trust us, Freemasons Tavern is stunning: picture a tiled mosaic front and two storeys of art deco windows and imposing glass doors. 1930s heaven.
Inside, this splendor isn’t quite echoed, except for the bar, which has a gold tiled ceiling. Instead you’re greeted with the kind of interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a more modern joint: exposed brick walls, tables and benches made of reclaimed wood and a variety of art – mostly of pop culture icons – all feature here.
The bar’s biggest draw is its affordability: a bottle of house wine costs under £12, while a classic cocktail is £6.50. In terms of food, expect to find pub grub staples such as burgers, fish & chips and roast dinners on a Sunday.
Best Bars tip: This laid-back spot is the perfect place for hanging out with friends away from much busier, louder establishments. It also stays open until 1am on a week night and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. That’s a lot of time for catching up.
The south-east of London has its own form of medicine: craft beer, dispensed at new relaxed boozer London Beer Dispensary, where the bar is replaced by a barrel and the ale is poured right out of the casks.
The guys of Late Knights Brewery are behind the Dispensary, so except quite a few of their brews – bitter Morning Glory will give you the kick you need. Other interesting names, all from small, independent brewers, include Heavy Industry’s Nelson’s Eye, citrusy with notes of tropical fruits, or the pink lady cider.
The food comes in the shape of buns and patties with pints of chips that you can enjoy in the beer garden on warm days and nights.
Best Bars tip: The place packs out pretty quickly, but you can take booze and grub away.
From neatly trimmed numbers to caveman stylings, London is awash in all things beard. So even though Movember is all about the ‘stache, here’s our round up of the best bars to check out some chins. *And they’re all great boozers too.*
This east London pub houses hundreds of Shoreditch revellers every weekend — naturally, they’re often a bearded bunch. This good-natured gargantuan haunt has something for everyone: pool tables, a beer garden, a screening room and sexy Sunday roasts.
A trip to the wonderfully hip (yet ever-so-charming) Broadway Market isn’t complete without ducking into this maze-like pub. Whether you’re into pilsners, guezes or trappists, you’ll be spoilt for choice by a tome-like drinks list.
This Irish whiskey-loving den on Bethnal Green Road is introducing you to Ireland’s version of moonshine: poitín … and well, it’s bloody brilliant. Don’t have a beard? Don’t worry. A few drinks here should sprout some hairs on that chin.
In the heart of Mermaid Quay, right on the waterfront stands Terra Nova, one of Brains Brewery’s more contemporary pubs.
Although pouring the same ales and craft beers as its siblings, Terra Nova offers a modern twist of traditional pub grub. Alongside favourites such as fish and chips, pies and steaks, you’ll find a selection of family pleasers such as American style pancakes, sourdough bacon baps and pulled pork nachos, all very reasonably priced.
Less busy than Mermaid Quay’s other eateries, but just as good, it’s a great pit stop while on a shopping spree in the Bay.
Best Bars tip: Buy a Bragging Rights beer for a true taste of Cardiff as it’s brewed to resemble the ancient Welsh beer “bragawd”.