The Salisbury, Green Lanes, Harringay

A big beautiful late 19th Century hotel that endured a slow decline into draughty old man’s pub, The Salisbury has been done up in the last couple of years and this has been carried out sensitively and stylishly, unlike a lot of the crude pub makeovers of the last half decade. Many of the old features remain – lovely glasswork, big centrepiece bar, high ornate ceiling and balding 40-something blokes lounging around and talking about football. Not the greatest Guinness in the world but there are usually some nice, though expensive, ales like ESB and Honeydew.

Harringay comes from the Old English ‘Hoering’s woodland enclosure’. A nice article about the difference betwen Harringay and Haringey here.

Edit – It’s been pointed out to me that there is further info for ‘Harringay origins’ enthusiasts at Harringay Online.

The Coronet, Holloway Road

Former grand cinema now yet another rambling Wetherspoons pub, good ale, no music, parties of OAPs getting hammered on the cheap beer. Good place for daytime drinking, if that’s your thing (and it can be beautiful) escaping from the fumes and nutters of Holloway Road. Close your eyes and let the Spitfire take hold of your brain then imagine Margaret Lockwood in The Wicked Lady, showing for the fifth time that day, people smoking Woodbines in the row behind you – “Blimey, Guv’nor, India’s gorn and won independence.”

The Crown, Clerkenwell Green

Recently done up and sprinkled with fairy wine bar dust to appeal to the slick crowd that hangs out around Clerkenwell these days. Historic grime has been scraped off everything inside and it no longer has a selection of proper beers, but push button lagers and ciders possibly piped in from some super modern underground storage facility. Guinness is good, though, and it’s warmish rather than that chest constricting extra cold stuff that lager drinkers seem to love.

The Alma, nr. Brick Lane, E1

Victoriana on walls, interesting real ales at the bar (Snowdrop and Pigswill), a Landlord who likes his own products and a peaceful haven away from the curried-artsy bustle of late 90s Brick Lane. For proper dinkers, lost tourists and Ripper fans.

‘Where are you from?’, asked Landlord.

‘Lincolnshire’, I said.

‘My second wife was from Lincoln. Lovely lady.’

The Rochester Castle, Stoke Newington

London’s no. 1 Wetherspoons pub, and there’s a beer festival on. Turnpike, Broadside and Barn Owl for well under two quid. Crowds of old blokes talk about cricket and Guinness while pockets of cleaned-up 30something ex-Clash fans get nostalgic for the days when Stoke Newington was cheap and you could get proper beer and a fight down the road at the Three Crowns.

The Bank of Friendship, Highbury Park, N5

They have a theme tune which is sort of Bryan Adamsish and goes like this:

"It’s the Bank of Friendship

The one for me and you

The Bank of Friendship

We can drink there too."

Actually, no – that’s a complete lie. It is a nice, usually quiet, local, its under-the-counter Irishness only obvious when you spot the Ireland football shirt and picture of Pat Jennings on the wall. There used to be a crowd of Dubs who sat by the door of one bar who’ll probably know you if you went to school in Dublin between 1946 and 1960.