If the lifeblood of London is the Thames, then booze comes a bloody close second. In our history Londoners have chugged everything from cups of vino to pints of potent gin — and it’s all been sold to us one way or another. Here are five key moments explaining how.
1 Londinium and the birth of the pub sign
London’s had wine bars for longer than you might think; as Pete Brown explains in Man Walks Into a Pub, Roman Londinium was rife with ‘tabernae’ selling wine rather than ale. They flagged themselves to passers-by using images of grapes or vines (and, because of the pursuit often enjoyed within, chessboards). It was handy for a largely illiterate population, and became the forerunner of the pub sign, when everything from a Turk’s head to a whistling oyster lured Londoners in for a swift one.
2. Gin evolves
As is well documented, London’s history with gin has not always been a healthy one. But …