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