Friday, 19 October 2012
Shebeen, Kentish Town
Shebeens were clandestine drinking premises where illicit whiskey was flogged to cloth capped Paddys in the Emerald Isle of yore. From there, the phenomenon spread first to Scotland, then to the USA and South Africa. Populated by loose-limbed, dope-head West Indians (and their white English posh girl admirers), shebeens became a fixture of Notting Hill in the 1950s. Fast forward 60-odd years and a legal tribute to the species has turned up in London NW5, the latest addition to this popular local Brit/Med bistro. In a downstairs dive that looks like a cross between a 20s speakeasy and a 70s Northern working man’s club, pimped hooch includes a range of classic cocktails at £6.50 (or 241 on 5.30 pm - 7.30 pm happy hour each night). Pile into the ‘snug’ ‘nook’ or ‘cranny’ - former police holding cells - and try Singapore Sling, Elderberry Collins, Mai Tai English Julep and Dark and Stormy - the dark rum and ginger beer mule popularised by Jamaicans in London circa The Profumo Affair (Christine Keeler and Lucky Gordon hung out in a shebeen that is now the venue for Tom Conran's Chamucos Clubhouse in Westbourne Park). Authentic Irish poitin - once banned due to its high alcoholic content - adds a frisson of excitement and there's beer from local lads, Camden Town Brewery.
Kentish Canteen 300 Kentish Town Rd NW5 2TG 7485 7331 http://kentishcanteen.co.uk
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