North London's Cultural Guide

Kentishtowner Awards: Best Boozer 2012

Whilst we are excited by all the new openings in 2012, we were pleased that a true institution swept the board in the end for this category. And people’s responses were passionate; you’re obviously a hard-drinking bunch.

Lots of colour: Delancey Street’s Crown & Goose (an ‘always reliable oasis’), the Torriano, Dartmouth Arms, Star and Palmerston; there was even a well-placed vote (just the one, mind) for timeless waterside boozer The Constitution.

At #4 is newcomer The Grafton, who have already scooped two awards, and #5 long-established party pub The Abbey. Camden Brewery just misses the Top 5 (but ‘feels like a little bit of Berlin has come to Kentish Town’, says one reader). Others hovering between 5 and 10 include Junction Tavern (for its ‘warmness’), Oxford, Lion & Unicorn and Vine.


You lot have a thirst for cocktails too. And whilst this was an award for ‘boozers’ new subterranean speakeasy-style haunt Shebeen fared remarkably well: ‘Love Shebeen for fantastic cocktails at reasonable prices,’ said a thirtysomething male, ‘the whiskey sours and espresso martinis are as good as any I’ve had in London.’

The last word? Let’s listen to one female thirtysomething, evidently a regular barfly around town: ‘We are so spoilt for boozers up here. The stupendous Southampton Arms, charming Junction, louche Torriano, and about half a dozen others that in most other neighbourhoods would be undisputed star attractions. But right now we love Shebeen best: a civilised late-night spot, delicious cocktails, well-judged decor, and the excellent Dave.’

1. The Pineapple

The Pineapple by Bob Gibson
Last year’s #2 is a clear winner this year (and our history special on the pub was a big hit too). It seems this year The Pineapple has attracted back some of those who have tired of the bare bulbs and standing-room-only vibe of the Southampton. Or maybe you just enjoy both. The Pineapple’s vintage markets, quizzes, cheese and Spanish nights have added to its quirky appeal, and we’ve enjoyed many a lost evening perched on its stools nursing an ale or house red. ‘History, location, charm, character, variety and consistently great Thai. All round perfection – KT’s (and London’s) best,’ said one thirtysomething male. Bet y’all agree with that. 51 Leverton Street

2. Southampton Arms

Last year’s winner is at #2. It’s still as rammed as ever, particularly with the daily influx of hipsters idling away an hour in the wait for nearby Chicken Shop. And, queues aside, its rotating mix of guest and host ales ‘n’ ciders, turntable, cash-only bar, and appealing pork baps, is impossible to fault: on a recent visit we hovered, tankards in hand, by the roaring fire, enjoying the people-watching. Many respondents said this was ‘no contest’. ‘As a keen ale drinker,’ gushed one twentysomething male, ‘this is heaven’. Several of you also declared a ‘toss-up’ between the Southampton and the Brewery. 139 Highgate Road

3. Tapping The Admiral

A recent review of their lunchtime fiver deal drew a really healthy response from you lot, and we’re pleased to say the Admiral performed well enough to make it to the third spot. ‘Also family friendly on an afternoon. Fab staff, food, drinks & location,’ said one female thirtysomething. ‘It is friendly, cosy and Porter the pub cat is cool too. Not to mention the delicious pies…’ added a twentysomething. And it seems to be the very definition of what a proper boozer is about in 20122, with its neighbourhood feel, high quality, well-priced food and drink, and lively eclectic crowd. 77 Castle Road

Tomorrow: Our Final Category – Best Evening Meal

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Main Pic: Tom Storr

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About Kentishtowner

The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.