Nairn’s London #7
Long bar, Henekeys, Holborn
THEN: Any long bar implies serious drinking, but this has a sense of dedication that is far beyond mere commerce. Perhaps because of this it is often cram-full: it is more of an experience to be uncomfortable here than to relax amongst a farrago of cliches. It does not depend on Victorian ornament either. The effect is due to the long, tall proportions, the dark woodwork and especially to the scale of the huge oval barrels behind the bar, as concise as an airliner’s skin. A walkway high up connects rooms tucked under the roof and you expect to see acolytes coming out on it to perform some liturgy of alcohol. Cabins all round the walls, as a souvenir of Belfast or Dublin; but this place needs no stage props. They sell spiced buns.
NOW: Now called Cittie of Yorke, this is a listed building, and very little seems to have changed since Nairn’s time. On a Friday afternoon the bar was bustling, but we found solace in the plush front room. The room is a beauty; the barrels behind the bar are vast and draw your eye upwards towards the gabled roof. The only place in London still serving beer from a wooden cask, a tasty pint. Unfortunately the spiced buns are no longer.