In theory, if not in practice, anyone can pour a pint of Guinness. But if you're looking for a pub that's Irish-owned, stocks Irish ales and whiskeys, or often hosts traditional music, food and even dancing, then look no further. Our critics have rounded up the best Irish pubs in London.
Irish pubs and bars in London
Known for its exceptional Guinness, always poured with care, and occasional raucous entertainment. It's the kind of pub where the wine list runs to 'red or white', and the staff are so matey and hospitable that they'll offer to bring your Guinness over to your table.
Three tiny, dark, wood-panelled rooms, with a bar in each housing framed jockey portraits. The pumps have four regularly changing, well-kept guest ales (including Hepworth’s Old Winter Ale, Harveys Bitter and Dark Star Hophead on our visit – not Irish, but good). There’s Guinness, of course, a fair few Irish whiskeys and Irish music on Thursdays. Smart, tie-clad bar staff are knowledgeable and friendly.
As the first London venue to win the Camra National Pub of the Year accolade, this diminutive Covent Garden pub pumps ten regularly changing real ales and has casks of scrumpy behind the bar. Irish landlady too.
A Covent Garden outpost of the Dublin brewery, this cavernous hostelry has an impressive selection of own-brewed ales, including three stouts – the An Brain Blásta, at 7%, lives up to its name. Bottled beers are a global lot.
This slender, centuries-old pub on Fleet Street is billed as the first to serve Guinness this side of the Irish Sea. It still serves a decent Guinness, of course, or choose from the stellar range of 16 Irish whiskeys.
This never-changing Soho pub could easily be mistaken for a Guinness museum: publicity posters for the black stuff cover the walls, overlooked by a trio of toucans. The Toucan is a bit faded and frayed around the edges, but it does a mean Black Velvet.