If you're searching for a great place for a few drinks why not try Time Out's guide to the best bars and pubs near London Bridge. Hit Royal Oak for specialty beers or Boot & Flooger for a fine wine in nearby Borough. Those looking for a cosy pub should head to Gladstone Arms for a candlelit pub experience and if cocktails are on the cards try Hide Bar. Think we've missed a great bar or pub near London Bridge? Let us know in the comment box below.
‘JHn. Davy Free Vintner’ reads the sign on the wall of an empty Borough side street, above an 071 number. It may as well read ‘Southwark 1184’ for all the modernity present within. ‘Hello, Sir,’ calls out Peter Common from behind a hatch as you enter, admiring the beautiful wood-panelled interior and occasional finely upholstered chair amid the wooden ones. A bowl of water biscuits awaits on the counter, where the promise of rare sirloin and cured ox tongue cold cuts is chalked up alongside game pie and fresh Newlyn crab meat, white only.
The only London pub of the estimable Lewes brewer Harveys, this traditional Victorian corner tavern draws beer fanatics, and with good reason: the ales here, from year-round fixtures such as Sussex Mild to seasonals including Old Ale, are always in perfect condition. But the Royal Oak would be worthy of a visit even without the cask brews: this is a a lovely place to spend an evening.
Now independently owned, the Glad is no longer a staid, empty corner pub. While the Victorian prime minister from whom the place takes its name still glares from a massive mural on the outer wall, the interior is now funky, freaky and candlelit. Gigs take place at one end of a cosy one-room space; opposite, a bar dispenses pints of Red Stripe, Beck’s Vier, St Austell Tribute and Doom Bar, while pies provide sustenance, and a crammed back bar embellished by a retro ‘On Air’ studio sign manages to find space for bottles of Moretti, Sol, Corona, Peroni and Budvar.
Rare is the evening – or, for that matter, the Saturday afternoon – when this place isn’t packed to the gunwales. The reasons for its popularity are plainly apparent: a handsome, old-fashioned room; a plum location; and one of the best real-ale selections in London. Spend any time here, though, and its shortcomings will become obvious: the staff who don’t seem to have much idea what they’re serving, a shame given the huge variety of ales and the lack of a central board detailing what’s on offer; and the lack of seats in the S-shaped room, which fosters not so much intimacy but discomfort.
A haven of tranquillity in a Borough sidestreet bookended by Peabody Trust residences, the Lord Clyde is a lived-in home from home for middle-aged regulars and penny-conscious students. A Truman’s landmark – note the pub sign outside and the etched mirror within (‘Unrivalled Mild Ales & Double Stout’) – the Clyde now offers a multitude of brewery flagship ales: Young’s, London Pride, Adnams.
Although the vaulted basement rooms are very attractive, the big draw at this underground bar is the German beer. There are seven on draught, plus more than a score by the bottle; among them is Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, a wonderful wheat beer, alongside a comprehensive selection of weissbiers and dunkels, kölsch beers, dark lagers, pilsners and more.
The Hide Bar has ridden out the credit crunch with aplomb, filling to the gills from Thursdays onward with nine-to-fivers happy to be sinking quality mixed drinks near a transport hub. Most cocktails are priced in the £6.50 to £7 range, including house specials such as the Passionate Englishman (Hendrick’s gin stirred with passion fruit purée), the Bermondsey Martini (Jensen’s gin and Noilly Prat) and the American in London (Knob Creek bourbon infused with Earl Grey tea, peach liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters and sweet vermouth).
The Woolpack is a down-to-earth alternative to the Garrison opposite, even if its website witters on about ‘unwinding in the heart of bohemian Bermondsey’. The location is prosaic – a side street branching off from the London Bridge rail estuary – but that shouldn’t detract from what’s a quality two-floor pub-restaurant. Beer-wise, you’ll find the likes of Kirin Ichiban, Leffe and Thwaites Nutty Black, while the dozen-strong wine list (by the glass and bottle) includes a few unusual offerings.