I was pleased to learn about the rich history of The Old Red Lion Theatre Pub in Islington in a Beer Today article published last week. The Old Red Lion is a pub I drank in for many years, and I was blissfully unaware of its august patronage over the years, with such luminaries as Thomas Paine, Karl Marx and Charles Dickens known to have propped up the bar. It brought to mind a post I wrote about the same pub last year, posted on Drunken Cinema, and has strengthened my resolve to revisit a pub which was once my (work) local.
The Old Red Lion is a special place. Long before Angel became a drinking destination for the discerning beer geek – boasting the likes of the Craft Beer Co. N1, The Earl of Essex and The Hop and Berry – I would often drop in for a post-work pint. It was here my colleagues and I established our so-called “Monday Club”, a vain attempt to cling on to the weekend (there was also a “Tuesday Club” and “Wednesday Club” some weeks). However, as my beer geekery grew, my visits became less frequent as I sought the best beer London had to offer.
I miss it though. While the beer range is basic compared to what’s available in other places less than a stone’s throw away, The Old Red Lion had, and I assume still has, “vibe”. And although slender in scope, I always found the beer to be cared for – the Landlord was always well kept, and the Guinness was decent too.
The theatre upstairs is intimate – you’re literally spitting distance from the actors – while the programme is eclectic. I took Gemma there to see Happy New, a play about two brothers abandoned by their mother in a chicken coop, on our third date. It was a bizarre piece, the two main characters having taken on chicken-like characteristics, strutting around the stage, clucking. It was a risky choice so early on, but luckily there was a fourth date…
I don’t always need a barrel-aged imperial stout or double IPA; sometimes a pint of Landlord will do just fine. I’m often in and around Angel, and the next time I am, I’ll pop into The Old Red Lion for a pint or two, just for old time’s sake. And to sample that vibe.
Photo courtesy of quite peculiar under Creative Commons via Flickr