Thursday, 23 January 2014

The January Man

A new year should be all about new resolutions and January is the time to start acting upon these, a time of remorse and self-pity where everyone feels compelled to tell everyone else that they are ‘detoxing’ and ‘being good’... until February! How sanctimonious!  That is why I have taken the opportunity this month to shun convention and carry on as normal... and what fun I have had. So while these ‘holier-than-thou’ carrot munchers quaff their wheatgrass smoothies and pop their cod liver oil tablets, I declare ‘boo-ya-sucks-to-you’ in this joyous post focusing on some of the hedonistic highlights of this month. 

Nothing is more comforting on a chill winters evening than a quiet pint of tepid bitter in an old fashioned boozer, and while such establishments are few and far between in South London, there are a small few that still offer a very convivial and warm setting for a civilised drink. The Alexandra (or the ‘Ally’ as it is known locally) is one such place, a large but friendly pub fifty metres from Wimbledon Station with a killer selection of bitter which includes my favourites: Young’s Special, Winter Warmer, Wandle and Junction as well as a few craft ales from the Meantime Stable along with the ubiquitous selections of commercial lager. Okay it might not be the gastropub that so many now crave but it served a lovely, frothing pint in a jolly atmosphere which is helped by great staff. 

For those looking to step back in time even further, I recommend a seedy, scummy little pub in the grand surroundings of Duke Street St. James, Chequers. A regular haunt of mine this pub is perfectly positioned being a five minute walk from Green Park Station, JJ Fox and Dukes Hotel’s legendary bar. Only last Friday you would have found me there under the searing blaze of their outdoor heaters indulging in a fine cigar, a NUB Sungrown. The stogie was full bodied and rich smoke with a thick plume of smoke wrapped and filled with some very fine Nicaraguan tobacco, well worth the £13.00 it cost. I coupled this with a very reliable pint of London Pride and a little nip of brandy to warm to cockles of me heart with, of course, some great banter. Inside it is somewhat dated with beer stained carpets, badly kept urinals, gin and tonic served in goblets and no room to swing a cat. Hear of ‘Tavern’ brand crisps? Neither have I and, after sampling them I cannot say i will be recommending them to anyone! 

Looking a little later into the evening London in January offers no end of entertainment, a veritable mix of iniquitous dens where one can dance and drink the nice away. Bart’s Bar is one such place, a ‘speakeasy’ on Sloane Avenue it is a room in an apartment complex decked out in weird objet d’art and hunting memorabilia. Potent cocktails and spirits on the rocks are the order of the day at this late-night watering hole as well as the presence of many uber-chic glamour pusses. Far too cool for me but sometime riff-raff like me are allowed to make an appearance.The same could not be said of Sugar Cane on Lavender Hill, a far from salubrious place, in which the smell of stale mojitos mingles uneasily with an atmosphere of passive violence and cracking knuckles, not the place for a drunken, shrinking violet like myself! After too too many badly made cocktail it was difficult to remember much of the decor, and indeed some of my more riotous and dangerous dance floor moves, but needless to say it was like a Tiki bar designed by someone devoid of all sense of taste! But then again, what do you expect of a place by three AM in the morning? 

Well that’s your lot for this week, but if you, like me, have decided to stick two fingers up at the broccoli brigade then please feel free to comment below and tell me about some of the places that you have been this January, I am always on the lookout for recommendations! 

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