St. Patrick’s Day can be a hazardous time for those who take drinking seriously. Everywhere you turn there’s an obnoxious loudmouth getting in your face, and treating the night like a race to the finish line, rather than the leisurely stroll through the gardens of inebriation that it should be. If you’re looking for a sophisticated London pub on St. Patrick’s Day, you can start with these places. No one can guarantee that they won’t be heaving anyway, but it’s a darn sight better than wandering into the first Wetherspoon’s you stumble across.
- If you’re staying in a hotel near Covent Garden, you’re ideally placed for the London classic now known as The Lamb & Flag. This narrow, teetering old pub has grown up along with London, which has inevitably meant a shift from scummy to gentrified. Once a place called the Bucket of Blood, a haunt of whores and bareknuckle fighters, the Lamb & Flag now hosts a mix of tourists, regulars and businessmen, and has fancy Japanese beers on tap. It’s still pretty quintessential, though.
- The French House is buried in the heart of Soho, and is another historic affair (most pubs in London tend to be historic). The pub has a real sense of charisma, and a way of doing things all its own. Cider is the main thing on offer here, and everything is served only in halves. Mobile phones are banned, and the ban is strongly enforced. It all sounds a bit strict, but the stringent standards go a long way towards keeping the French House a refuge for the riff raff of Soho that don’t quite fit in to the trendy cocktail bars springing up around their ears.
- Well-situated for Charing Cross hotels, Gordon’s Wine Bar on Villiers Street is an amazing place to take anyone visiting the city. There are no spirits or beers on offer here, only a fantastic selection of wines, but the real story is the mysterious ambience of the place. It’s set in what can best be described as a dungeon. There’s low stone ceilings, cobwebs everywhere, and nothing has been dusted, repaired or repainted for hundreds of years. The result is the opposite end of the spectrum from a clean, modern cocktail bar, but certainly makes for an unforgettable drinking session