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Charlie Chaplin’s old local, taken on by the Draft House chain.
Kennington was once the epicentre of London’s music hall scene, with luvvies propping up the bars of rowdy taverns lining Kennington Road. Fast forward 120 years and The Tankard – the latest from beer-focused pub group The Draft House – is harking back to this colourful history. Reverting to its original name from 1825, the old-school boozer once overlooked the grounds of infamous asylum Bethlem Hospital (aka Bedlam) and was frequented by a young Charlie Chaplin, sent in by his mum to fetch his music-hall-performing pop from the bar. The old soaks at the pub are said to have influenced Chaplin’s slapstick and The Tankard has taken this heritage to heart. The striking – if slightly gaudy – red-and-black décor nods to the area’s former theatrics, as do illustrations of the ‘Little Tramp’.
As is to be expected, the beer selection is top-notch and friendly bar staff are on hand to guide you through the colossal menu. There’s everything from cans courtesy of small-scale British breweries (notably Northern Monk, Magic Rock and Gypsy Hill Brewery) to European lagers and American pale ales. There’s a healthy selection of sprits, too, including the juniper-rich Victory Gin, straight from the group’s distillery in Bermondsey. Cheese is the watchword on the food front, with a section of the menu dedicated to beer and cheese pairings.
The spacious downstairs bar was quiet when we visited on a Saturday night. But, head up a twisting, red spiral staircase and you’ll find the cause – a charming roof terrace full of twinkling, festoon lights and pergolas.
It’s fair to say the Chaplin-esque look feels a little trite. But, it’s nothing a long drinks list and a pretty view over the Imperial War Museum (thankfully, not Bethlem any more) can’t fix.
111 Kennington Road
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