Our second stop is a wine bar called the Old Bell Tavern, which was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672. When he was constructing the St. Bride's Church in the alley behind the pub, he came up with the brilliant idea to offer his workers accommodation and entertainment at his own wine bar, putting the salaries he'd just put in his workers' pockets, back into his own. Wine was the popular drink back then although Michelle tells us that most likely it wasn't exactly grape based. More often than not, wine was diluted with olive oil, arsenic and something else that I can't seem to remember.
We move on to the Crown and Sugar Loaf just around the corner. This sparkly gin palace dates back to the late 1800s. After things had gone a bit out of control, the government had decided to tax the most popular drink of that time, which was gin. A few decades later, in order to get people back into the drinking establishments again, gin palaces started popping up. They were also an attempt to lure more women into these palaces, hence the bright, sparkly decor and pretty mosaic floors. Michelle told us a few more things that I can't exactly recall. Must have been that G&T.
Our final stop is the Blackfriars pub dating back to 1875. This pub with its Art Nouveau style was built in 1905 on the site of a former Dominican friary. There are reliefs, sculptures and pictures strewn around this pub depicting friars having a good time that remind you of this. I really wish I could tell you more about this pub, but my memory of that last bit of the tour seems a bit foggy. We did have an amazing time and if you want to find out for yourself how it ends, do book yourself a spot on the History of Drinking and Pubs tour. http://www.insider-london.co.uk/