Adrian Stanley/The Lock Tavern
Hattie Lloyd 15/05/23
Hogarth’s infamous Gin Lane is set in the borough of Camden, and on a Friday night it can be all too apparent that not that much has changed.
Revelling in its slightly shabby, counter-culture status, Camden is renowned for an interesting night out. A playground for Madness, The Clash, Amy Winehouse, and Blur, the area has a noteworthy musical history and throughout the years has never lost its reputation as a place to get a decent drink. Stopping in at every watering hole might have you hanging like a Hogarth, though, so we’ve taken the liberty of shortening the list:
The World’s End
If you’re looking for a pint in Camden, The World’s End is ironically a great place to start. With its sprawling floor plan and eclectic customer base, this mainstay of the Camden pub scene can often feel like the world’s end inside. The coming together of ageing rockers, goths, locals, and emo kids (who we must assume are old enough to drink) gives it a truly unique vibe. The sheer scale of it helps, with nooks and crannies, mezzanines, and two enormous bars. It’s like a marketplace for the end of days, where the music is loud and the beer flows freely.
Staropramen is delivered directly to the brewery in tanks so that it tastes just like it does in Prague (according to them at least), and they some pretty decent pizzas, wings and loaded fries for ballast. The atmosphere is lively at all hours here, and with music venue The Underworld situated underneath, it very much picks up in the evenings.
Details: 174 Camden High St, NW1 0NE | Closing time: 11pm Sun-Thurs, 1am Fri/Sat | Live music? Yes, gigs downstairs
Camden is famous for a few things: the market, the knock-off Ramones t-shirts, other fading relics of the punk movement, and of course, the lock. Lockside sits you right above the latter and next to the market’s street food yard, meaning you don’t have far to travel for expert grub from across the globe – although their in-house menu has lofty aspirations of its own, with Stilton mayo-slathered hot wings and Camden Lager-infused mussels & fries ready to accompany your pint. There’s a proud emphasis on cocktails here too, with classics, spritzes and even eco-friendly options on the list, and a dancefloor heaving to deep house on weekends. Downstairs, meanwhile, is 180 Club – a darts bar with automatic scoring.
Details: 75-89 Upper Walkway, Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF | Closing time: 11pm Sun-Thurs, 1am Fri, 2am Sat | Live music?Karaoke on Tuesdays, DJs on Fridays & Saturdays
Dingwalls is steeped in Camden musical history. It opened in 1973 as a dance hall, was briefly a jazz bar owned by Gilles Peterson, hosted Blondie’s debut, and has received, over the years, performances from The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and The Ramones (to name but a few). To this day it’s one of Camden’s best pubs for live music, comedy and club nights, with regular tribute acts joining the line-up. It’s also just a great, roomy boozer to stop off in for a drink – there are three bar areas, including an outdoor terrace by the canal.
Details: East Yard, 11 Camden Lock Place, London NW1 8AL | Closing time: 3am, daily | Live music? Most nights, check ahead here
The Edinboro Castle
The Edinboro Castle’s undeniable selling point is the huge beer garden, set just on the edge of Regent’s Park, and at least four times the size of the interior itself. There’s decent pub grub to be had here, while beer straddles cask ales and craft brews from the likes of Siren and Tiny Rebel. And don’t be surprised to find a high proportion of kilts here on a Friday night – it’s a popular pit-stop before the ceilidhs down the road at Cecil Sharp House.
Details: 57 Mornington Terrace, London NW1 7RU | Closing time: 11pm daily | Live music? No
The Colonel Fawcett
A good ol’ fashioned tavern, wooden and airy, the Colonel Fawcett is one of Camden’s hidden treasures. The site of the last fatal duel in Britain, the pub has a chequered past. Legend tells of vagabonds and miscreants from across the empire gathering here to indulge, imbibe, and sell their ill-begotten wares. It’s now more famous for its bottomless lunches, its gardens, its Saturday night DJs and its upstairs techy darts room. In honour of their eponymous Colonel’s unquenchable thirst for gin they have a formidable gin menu with over 100 offerings, and 19 beers on tap.
Details: 1 Randolph Street, NW1 0SS | Closing time: 11pm Tues-Thurs, 1am Fri/Sat, 11pm Sun, closed Mon | Live music? DJs on Saturdays
Brewing their way from hipster start-up to global stardom, Brewdog are a leading, if frequently controversial, light in the craft beer scene, and one of their earliest locales was Camden. This plucky boozer is tucked away on a side street not too far from Camden Town underground, and serves up a plethora of quirky and unusual craft beers. Expect tart tangerine sours, zombie-inspired porters and, well, the unexpected. To accompany your brews there are, predictably, dogs, in their hot form, with burgers and wings to boot (the latter being all you can eat for £13 on Wednesdays). The bar has two floors, so despite its modest size you’ll find plenty of space to wile away the afternoon – you can even hot-desk here, and they’ll throw in a pint to mark your EOD.
Details: 113 Bayham St, London NW1 | Closing time: 11pm Sun-Wed, 12am Thurs-Sat | Live music? No
The Lock Tavern
Not quite lockside but taking its name, The Lock Tavern sits just north of the Stables Market and provides a heated beer garden with firepits, a pretty rooftop terrace, and cosy, recently revamped interiors with a roaring fire. There’s an impressive line-up of 18 taps along the bar, with Hoppy Hour from Mon-Thurs, 5-7pm, when you can net a pint for £3. Following the Camden pub food mantra, the menu here spans burgers, wings and pizza, with the welcome addition of a reliable Sunday roast. It’s a top notch North London boozer which ticks all the boxes.
Details: 35 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AJ | Closing time: 11pm Sun-Wed, 12am Thurs, 1am Fri/Sat | Live music? DJs upstairs
Strikingly well-heeled compared to most of the other pubs in Camden, The Farrier owes its genteel appearance both to its setting – a newly revamped section of the old Stables Market – and its owners, the theatre makers behind the Peaky Blinders experience and The Great Gatsby. It’s as much a restaurant as it is a pub, with Tuesday steak nights (with cuts sold at market price); an exemplary Sunday roast; and dishes like confit duck, miso-glazed cauliflower and Old Winchester crème brûlée on offer the rest of the week. There are a few lines of draft beer here but the main emphasis is on wines – mostly biodynamic numbers sourced from small-scale growers – and cocktails, many using the Half Hitch Gin which is distilled round the corner.
Details: Camden Stables Market, 87/88 North Yard, NW1 8AH| Closing time: 11pm Wed/Thurs, 12am Fri/Sat | Live music? Fridays from 8pm
The Hawley Arms
Rising like a phoenix from the flames of the 2008 Camden Market fire, the Hawley Arms is a classic Camden pub, famed for its former barmaid, Amy Winehouse. It’s cosy and traditionally styled inside, but the live music and energetic owners give the place a buzzy atmosphere. The drinks are classic, and so is the grub (reasonably priced roasts, sausage & mash, pints of chips). Tucked away, a stone’s throw from the lock and the market, it’s a great getaway from the chaos round the corner.
Details: 2 Castlehaven Rd, Camden Town, London NW1 8QU | Closing time: 12am Sun-Thurs, 1am Fri/Sat | Live music? Regularly
The Black Heart
A hearty blend of biker bar and British boozer, the Black Heart is a rock pub with a heavy metal & electronica bent. With local beers, not-so-local beers, a pool table clad in black, and neon gothic relics adorning the walls, it’s everything a heavy metal pub should be. Live performances are plentiful amidst their busy event calendar, which includes Burlesque Club Nights and Heavy Metal Yoga. It’s tucked away, but worth seeking out if you want a taste of Camden’s darker underbelly.
Details: 3 Greenland Place, Camden Town, NW1 0AP | Closing time: 12am Sun-Wed, 1am Thurs, 2am Fri/Sat | Live music? Pretty much daily
Like great boozers? Check out the best cocktail bars in London
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