For those of you unaware of international alcohol policies, the legal drinking age in the UK is 18. That means that we youngsters going abroad to London have access to any bars and pubs we want. We can order a pint with dinner, a cider after class, or even a shot of Jaeger for breakfast—it’s totally legal!
However, due to some poor planning, I may or may not have turned 21 just after arriving in London, which tends to suck all of the fun out of drinking legally at all hours of the day.
Luckily, London has its own means of solving this minor inconvenience: cool bars and pubs! Since my good friend Deb has already recommended the terrific Camden Eye, I will take a look at some of the other notable bars and pubs around the city.
Now, you may ask, “What is the difference between a ‘bar’ and a ‘pub’?” and I will first tell you that asking questions to a computer screen is pretty strange. I will then go on to answer your query:
A pub is a “public house.” It is a place where people go to socialize (usually right after work), with an environment that facilitates conversation, with quieter music playing through the speakers, and usually closes by midnight. Bars, on the other hand, are usually dark, loud, and packed with people…sometimes dancing people.
The Lexington, in the college neighborhood of Islington, is a prime example of a pub—it has homemade food, bright lighting, and a weekly music pub quiz (in which certain American students like to participate). However, the Lexington also hosts concerts in its upstairs room several times a week. The other quirky thing about the Lexington is that it’s American-themed: American beer, American whiskey, hunting lodge aesthetic. It’s always nice to see how us Americans are depicted in other cultures.
Also on the pub side of things (with a similar hunting lodge aesthetic) is The Defector’s Weld in Shepherd’s Bush. Though the drinks are pricey here, they have a happy hour deal on weekdays, which is great for grabbing a drink before heading to a show at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush, a hefty concert venue that hosts some terrific acts just down the street.
For some late night fun, there’s the classy/trendy Book Club in the hip Shoreditch area. The Book Club definitely falls into the “bar” category, with their snack-centric food menu, loud music, and delightful mixed drinks. The decor is clean, and the walls are ornamented with children’s drawings of animals. There’s also a ping pong table, and on Thursday nights an event called “TweetBox” in which attendees tweet their song requests to the DJ. It usually devolves into late ’90s/early 2000’s R&B, so it’s totally awesome.
For the adventurous crowd, I will offer two suggestions, though I IN NO WAY endorse these establishments. They are full of debauchery and to be honest, kind of terrifying. Some people like things like that.
First, there’s The Macbeth, a pseudo-goth/punk bar in Hoxton. It’s open till all hours of the night, and frequently hosts loud rock shows and theme nights. They recently held a “Frat Party” themed party. It’s just like being back at BU! WARNING: You may get a chunk of ripped-up stuffed animal hurled at your head.
Finally, and for this I deeply apologize, is The Eagle in Kennington (not to be confused with the BU neighborhood of Kensington). The Eagle caters to a very…specific clientele. It is honestly intimidating. However, they have a Sunday night dance party that is disco-inspired (with a Village People movie playing on the walls) that is quite fun. Also, if you’re lucky enough, an indie music superstar might give you and your friends a round of drinks.