London's best cider pubs
Sugary industrial fizz still dominates the cider selection in London’s boozers, but a growing band of publicans now source the genuine article from independent producers. Here’s our pick of the best
Mon Oct 14 2013
Roll up for a barrel of laughs – and fermented apples. Time Out’s cider correspondent Phil Harriss reports on the boom in pubs serving artisanal ciders. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
Purveyor of pies and cider for more than 30 years, this Pimlico Village bar-restaurant brings a country breeze to SW1. Settle in to its woody interior and pair a poacher’s pie with a pint of Weston’s perry (pear cider), or perhaps a fidget pie with a drop of Jack Ratt scrumpy from Lyme Bay. With a choice of five ciders on draught, four in flagons (chilled in the fridge) and another five in bottles (including Millwhites’s powerful Rum Cask cider, weighing in at 7.5 percent ABV), you might find new meaning in the term ‘pie-eyed’.
- 26 Churton St, SW1V 2LP. 020 7821 7456. Pimlico tube.
Following new ownership (the folk behind Stoke Newington’s Jolly Butchers) and a back-to-the-bricks refurb in 2012, this capacious drinking hall sources an array of ciders to accompany its impressive collection of real ales and craft beers. As with the brews, both new and old-style ciders are carried, so as well as Devon Scrumpy, there’s also carbonated Devon Red and (look away now, purists) Strawberry Lane, flavoured with wild strawberries and lime – all from Sandford Orchards. More of Sandford’s range is sold in bottles.
- 246 Brixton Rd, SW9 6AQ. 020 7737 0060. Brixton tube/rail.
Located in an old gatehouse that stands sentinel before Euston station, the Cider Tap quickly established itself as a prime drop-in spot for travellers wanting a drop of fermented apple juice to ease their journey northwards. In this rustic-looking bar you can deliberate between eight (fizzy) keg ciders, including Hogan’s Dry from Warwickshire and Original Sin ‘Cidery’ from New York; five still ciders on tap (the likes of Wilkins Medium); and even a mulled cider.
- East Lodge, 188 Euston Rd, NW1 2EF. 020 3137 883. Euston tube/rail.
Both Fitzrovia and this lively Victorian boozer benefited greatly when the Green Man chose to specialise in cider a few years back. Students, office-workers and enthusiasts pack into its capacious interior to see what’s on the pumps. The selection changes every couple of weeks, but there’s usually plenty from Weston’s (Old Rosie, Traditional Scrumpy and Country Perry recently), along with the likes of Old Rascal from Thatchers and Hogan’s cider from the Malvern Hills. Bottled, you’ll find Thatchers Katy and, for the sweet of tooth, Brothers Strawberry and Pear.
- 36 Riding House St, W1W 7EP. 020 7580 9087. Goodge St tube.
Where once fine and varied sausages were the main selling points of this well-hidden pub near Charing Cross post office, now it’s sought-after ales. The board outside details the current selection, while around a bar counter eminently suited to being propped up, obscure beer mats tell of ales from yesteryear. It’s not only ales – at present Sambrook’s, Thornbridge and Dark Star – but traditional cider and perry, too. Sausages still sizzle away on the hob beside the bar, where cheery regulars chat with the staff or study the racing form. Decor is provided by portraits of long-forgotten personalities lining the narrow walls of the one main bar, and signature harps glazing in the front windows, which open out completely as summer comes.
- 47 Chandos Place, WC2N 4HS. Charing Cross tube/rail.
With more levers behind its bar than a Clapham Junction signal box, the Butchers attracts a crowd for its local real ales. But following the pub’s bare-boards refit a couple of years back, cider also figures strongly among the handpumps. Devon Red and Orchard Pig Reveller suit the lovers of fizz, but purists have a bag-in-box selection that changes every fortnight or so. Devon Scrumpy from Sandford Orchards was slaking thirsts the other week. Bottles include medium-sweet Shaky Bridge and crisp Aspall from Suffolk.
- 204 Stoke Newington High St, N16 7HU. 020 7249 9471. Stoke Newington rail.
The council-estate environs may look less than salubrious, but step inside the Miller and you’ll encounter a congenial, hip bar run by enthusiasts who source their cider directly from producers. The regularly changing batch recently included Black Dragon, an oak-conditioned cider from Wales; Ross-on-Wye cider; and London Glider cider from the wilds of Woodford Green.
- 96 Snowfields Rd, SE1 3SS. 020 7407 2690. London Bridge tube/rail.
- Critics choice
A heady, brown-tinged 1940s aura surrounds this peach of a pub. Don a flat cap, order a pork pie and contemplate the alluring choice behind the bar. As well as a wealth of local real ales, there’s an inspiring batch (around eight) of still ciders or perries, sourced from small independent producers and hand-drawn from the cellar. Fiery Fox, a 6.5 percent ABV medium cider from Gwynt Y Ddraig in Pontypridd, represented Wales recently, with the London Cider Company’s Traditional keeping the home fires burning. Note it's cash only: no cards.
- 139 Highgate Rd, NW5 1LE. 07958 780 073. Gospel Oak Overground.
- Critics choice
‘When we took over, the pump for the keg cider was marked “fizzy piss”,’ explains the Wenlock’s cheerful barman as he reels off the list of six ciders and two perries (pear ciders), in boxes displayed on a Victorian-style rack. The owners of the Red Lion & Sun in Highgate took over the lease of this no-frills tap room in 2013, ensuring its survival and transforming its cider choice. You’ll now find the likes of Burrow Hill, Thundering Molly and Tumbledown (from Snail’s Bank Cider), plus ‘pear cider’ from Cornish Orchards and Painted Lady perry.
- 26 Wenlock Rd, N1 7TA. 020 7608 3406. Old St tube/rail.
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