So as mentioned the blog has undergone a bit of  revamp. Its now found at www.pubdiaries.com and is hosted using wordpres. For the bloggers reading this, its simply and easier tool and gives more options.

Hope you'll continue to follow as the new address.


The Pub Diaries is on the move!

It's been a busy few weeks which is the reason for a lack of any posts.

Those who follow on Twitter may have worked out that I've been travelling. So to come very soon are a wealth of posts from HK and Australia... once i'm over the fact that its back to the reality of work!

To add to this the blog will be jumping from Blogger to Wordpress so you should see a better looking site in coming weeks. More news as it happens!


SE1 Beer Revival: The Dean Swift

Reaction to suggesting that SE1 was the go to place for beer lovers in London was unexpected; with hundreds of hits on the blog, Charlie McVeigh of the Draft House proclaimed the SE1 "beer revival" on Twitter and there were suggestions that NW1 was in fact the place to be. With the imminent opening of the Euston Tap it was a fair point but I stand by SE1 and beyond as superior.

In mentioning the big hitters in that post I'd relegated the rest to an etcetera. But these etceteras aren't mere footnotes and The Dean Swift is a good example. This Shad Thames pub on Lafone Street is just streets away from Tower Bridge and has the hallmarks of a local having undergone a change of ownership and a spruce up, while retaining a local feel. The choice on the bar isn't the vast head scratching exercise of the Draft House but there is still around 8 beers on tap, a mix of craft and the likes of Becks. To be honest after a busy day I just don't have the capacity to make decisions and with the increasingly popular Sierra Nevada on tap it’s an easy decision to make. Having paid over £5 in Shoreditch its more than fair at £4 a pint. A sharer of Fish and Chips serves as a good filler on our visit. Proper pub food in a basket is something that you don't see enough of.

Add in friendly and knowledgeable bar staff and and it’s a real winner. Another tick for SE1.
The Dean Swift
32 Lafone Street


SE1: who needs North of the river

North has always been my compass bearing of choice. So it surprises me to say that South really is the place to be. It's been coming for a while with a move South of the River last year after years in Clerkenwell and Hoxton (I never owned skinny jeans or a brakeless racer mind) but Sunday afternoon confirmed there really is no need to venture across the river.

The SE1 starting point was the Draft House on Tower Bridge. It was the perfect place to meet the Dane, over for the weekend and staying nearby.  The last visit was during the soft launch and i've been looking for an excuse to come back ever since... not that I need an excuse, but the hangover that first visit was difficult to cope with after the over indulgence. The atmosphere was perfect for a Sunday afternoon. There had been thoughts that it may be packed out with tourists in hiking boots and kagools (a style choice I can never really get in Central London) but thankfully this wasn't the case. Enough fellow punters for a bit of life but not so many that we had to wait for service. The choice as always was impressive so much so that i'm left making a choice and changing it, not wanting to miss out on something that i've not seen. Possibly the reason for the hangover last time! Captain English joins us and we are set for a few hours drinking and catching up.

As we depart, the Dane heads East and English and I head towards London Bridge. It's at this point that I remember Tweets about the South West Beer Fest at The Rake. Attempting the "one more no more" it falls flat as English has an appointment with a pair of oven gloves. I've never been one for drinking on my own, least of all at a Beer Festival, but the lure of The Rake is too much. It's the closing hours when I arrive but there is still a decent crowd, the staff are in Halloween costume; at least I hope so as i'm sold a pasty by a Droog. I sample in halves and manage to get through Bath Ales Festivity, Lizard Ales Helford River , Isle of Purbeck Fossil Fuel and Yeovil Ales Stargazer. With each half I note down what i've had on the iPhone until I come to the realisation that the next step could be a notebook, similar to the Ticker next to me. I put the phone away, consider another half but decide that I don't want a repeat of the Draft House Head.

I head to London Bridge through the market to ensure there aren't any detours to Brew Wharf or a host of others. The choice is so rich in SE1 I'd say there is no better place in London for a lover of beer, pubs and Droogs selling pasties... put simply who needs North of the river?

Draft House
206-208 Tower Bridge Road
The Rake
14a Winchester Walk


Dovetail, Clerkenwell: The Saviour of Tuesday

There was a time, not that long ago, that a few beers on a Tuesday night could turn into an unexpected session. Random dives, curry and kebabs would likely be involved; as inevitably would the Wednesday morning hangover and the prognosis of: it must be something I ate. Nowadays I'm a little more restrained. Attributable in part to the conversion. Not of the religious kind, Though on reflection it does involve a morning baptism and a great number of oh god, jesus, jesus's, as I plunge into an outdoor pool which today read 15c. It's not something to be attempted with the remnants of a session clunking round your shattered mind and body!

So planning a few Tuesday evening drinks these days requires more thought. The main rule here is that too much of a good time should be avoided or you are risk of a session.

Meeting Captain English around Farringdon I'm stuck for a venue. I've always found the station end of Cowcross Street to be a wasteland for decent pubs and bars so this is firmly out. Ok so I said too much of a good time should be avoided, but a bad time is just a waste of time and money. There's a niche between the two which is pleasant conversation, a few laughs (but not too many mind) which will see you on the right train home every time. Clerkenwell Green, the Gunmakers and the Peasant would all be too dangerous a proposition so the choice was the Dovetail. A bar specialising in Belgian beer should surely be a dangerous choice? But strangely it isn't. The service is ok, the choice is extensive and tucked away on Jerusalem Passage it's a relatively quiet location. I've spent time here for after work drinks and on weekends when I lived around the corner but have never made a connection in the same way as say the Peasant or 3 Kings, that makes me want to stay. English and I ponder this over a Kwak; the conclusion is it's identikit feel; with Tin Tin posters, pews, Belgian beer memorabilia, not to mention the stale chip fat aroma, we could as easily be sat in a Bromley chain bar. A shame perhaps? Well not really as without the likes of the Dovetail occupying the niche between favourites and the likes of Cowcross Street, Tuesday nights could be a thing of the past. As conversation strays to the existence of a Kwak Pipe it's time for the short walk to the train station.
9-10 Jerusalem Passage


Turner Prize: Chip #3

Turner Prize furore is fast approaching; with the prize announcement on 6th December and work available to view from today at Tate Britain.

The Daily Mail and other such liberal minded publications will be sharpening their knives and preparing their blunt rhetoric for another year. In a time of recession is there anything better for them to tear into than something which is modern, conceptual and is ultimately destined to have a price tag attached equal to a 3 bed detached in Nuneaton and a top of the range Mondeo? Rule of thumb being that if it isn't at least 150 years old, appropriated from another culture or of some naked bird then surely it cannot be art.


Lou and I were at Tate Britain over the weekend (I can stroke my chin with the best of them) to deliver my Turner entry. Only to be told that this isn't the way it works. And there was me thinking it was akin to The Gallery on Hartbeat. I explained i've been referred to as an artist of note on many occasions. Often preceeded with the word piss but an artist all the same. This as you can imagine didn't sway the good people of the Tate and tail between my legs, retired to the Canton Arms, safely across the bridge.

So instead I share it with your goodselves. The Pub Diaries presents: Chip #3.

I would ask interested buyers to form an orderly queue behind Charlie Saatchi. Don't worry there's plenty to go round... I've got a bowl full..


Raouls, Jericho, Oxford: Aviation

Cocktails have never really been my thing. I've had too many that were overpriced or over liquered. So they aren't usually on my drinks radar, unless I find myself at a time or in a place where a beer just isn't appropriate (yes there are such times), and importantly the Bartenders know what they're doing. Not some Tom Cruise obsessive who's practiced their bottle tossing more than their mixing; and certaonly not someone who refers to themselves as a Mixologist. After a day of historic Oxford colleges and pubs we made our way to Raoul's, raising a birthday toast to Lou's sister Elise.

The cocktail list is vast but Lou goes for her regular of an Old Fashioned. Elise and middle sister Jerry go for some sweet concoction. Col seems set on his choice which could be anything from a Dirty Martini to a Donn Beach Zombie, such is his eagerness to give anything a go (this includes Channel Swimming and Richard Gere impressions). Lee AKA Ho Ho Ho Green Giant asks for something to knock him over which is a decision he may have later regretted. Being a relative novice, but knowing what I like (and more importantly what I don't), I ask a few questions. The bartender knows his stuff and sells me on the Aviation. It's in the Forgotten Cocktails section, served in a Martini glass and the main constituent is gin. Its right on the mark for me. Its dry, fresh and not an umbrella in sight. Its one of those classic drinks that makes me think of an age of elegant air travel. The days before bodily swabs and Easyjet snack packs, when people were more likely to light a cigar than their shoes.

I was so impressed that I had a look into the ingredients and method to recreate at home; something that you cannot do with a pint without a decent amount of expertise, patience and brewing equipment (one day perhaps). Who better to take guidance from than Erik Lorincz of the Connaught, recipient of International Bartender of the Year.

So its predominantly Gin; about 2 shots of something decent (Bombay Sapphire, Tanquray, Hendricks). Raouls adhere to one of the original recipes which uses Maraschino (1/3 shot) and Violet (1/8 shot) liqueurs; though some dispense of the Crème de Violette. A shot of lemon finishes the mix. 

Pour into a ice filled shaker (a pint glass if you need to improvise). Shake and strain to a chilled glass. Garnish would traditionally be a flamed lemon peel but I think you could be forgiven as with the Crème de Violette for not adhering fully at home! Retire to the terrace to the strains of Frank, Dean or Sammy and enjoy.

32 Walton Street,

01865 553 732


The Old Bookbinders, Jericho, Oxford: You'd be Nuts Not To!

The Old Bookbinders is tucked away in the residential streets of Jericho. No snap happy tourists here unless you count the snap happy blogger and his iPhone. On a drizzly Sunday afternoon, there is just a handful of locals at the bar and a friendly but bored barman. Our arrival more than doubles the occupancy and draws some stares which confirms that this could be pigeon holed as a "local"; or just the normal reaction to 5 Aussies and a Northerner.

The pub has a jumble sale aesthetic, which looks like its slowly crept through the pub, with vinyl, beermats and rows of spent lighters clustered on walls. I imagine it to be great for a proper session with its dimly lit back room and corners to occupy.
I opt for the seat without a lethal looking ice skate dangling above and have a pint of Bath Ales, Gem, accompanied by free monkey nuts scooped from a large barrel. I am happy. Easily pleased perhaps but the simple pleasure of cracking shells, supping the the rich malty Gem and good company is what Sundays are all about.

17-18 Victor St
01865 553 549