North London Food & Culture

All hail our boozers: #4, Southampton Arms

Meet manager Ashton Millard from north London's award-winning tiny alehouse

Ashton Millard: ''
Ashton Millard: ‘Watching the population go crazy for craft beer has been a pleasure.’ All photos: © Dan Hall

What do you love about the job?
The beautiful moment when the fires are roaring, people are sheltering from the rain behind the steamed-up front window, and the sound of conversation and piano mingle. Seems very calming to me.

Any difficulties to speak of?
The transition between the old Southampton and the new. Some people just didn’t like it that much. Eventually it came to a head; I ended up with four broken ribs. Fun times. Oh, and cold calling from breweries.

What do you do that’s unique?
Serve a great range beers, well looked after and all done with a smile. Oh and we let practically anyone in! Frontline social care.

Southampton Arms: ''
Southampton Arms: ‘a really diverse group of people’. Photo: Dan Hall

What’s been the biggest surprise in your career?
How much people can drink! There are professional boozers out there.


Describe your clientele.
We have a really diverse group of people. My favourite overheard conversation was a deep spiritual debate between a bin man and a high court judge. Funny how similar they both found themselves to be.

What’s the funniest story you can tell?
Too many. Have you seen the youtube of the Kentish Town bin man? He only had three pints!

The rise of craft beer: discuss.
The number of quality breweries now compared to when we opened over six years ago is huge. It’s quite a unique business I’ve found; people or competitors just share info for the better of the brewing industry. But £5 for a pint of cask beer, if it’s not at wine levels of ABV, is just greedy. In fact, I’m still not sure why craft keg beers are so expensive to buy.

How do you see the industry in five years?
Just the same. The products and trends may come and go, but the Great British tradition of going down the pub will never stop.

Ashton Millard: ''
Ashton Millard: ‘There are professional boozers out there.’ Photo: Dan Hall

Who’s the famous face that’s been in?
Daniel Craig half naked for an Esquire photo shoot. I should have charged for tickets.

And finally, who would you most like to serve, alive or dead?
Spike Milligan – and Bettie Page would be welcome for a lock-in anytime.

Find Southampton Arms at 139 Highgate Road NW5.

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