Drinks doctor: How can I make ‘pub people' feel happy in a gastropub?

19 May 2023
Drinks doctor: How can I make ‘pub people' feel happy in a gastropub?

You can't offer everything to everyone, but it's the atmosphere that makes a pub a favoured local, says Gordy McIntyre

Pubs serve their communities in many different guises. The idea of the ‘gastropub' has roots as far back as the 1660s as an "inn that provides food and is licensed to sell ale", while the term public house from the 1570s is defined as "any building open to the public", which is what I like to base our ethos at the Hicce Hart in London on.

Now, don't get me wrong, not every pub is for every person – "I don't like it over there, I prefer this boozer", is a commonly heard phrase. This could be for the beer choices, wine, price or it just isn't your cup of tea, but the beauty of it all is, you have a choice.

In my opinion, the pub is greatly undervalued: it transcends social divides and is one of life's last level playing fields. What does this mean? Well, we have all stumbled into a pub, maybe after a long, tough day or a great day, pulled up a bar stool, gave a polite nod to the person on either side of us, cracked a joke to the bar person and ended up in a conversation with those propping the bar up.

You don't know them, they don't know you, but the conversation is flowing, there's no mention of what you do or where do you live, just a common enjoyment of good beer and good conversation.

Having stood behind many a bar, I have the inside knowledge on my regulars' lives: Anwar owns his own AV company, Josh is a retired bus driver, Chris helps out at the local Caribbean restaurant (bringing the staff the most outrageous rotis on occasion) and Sam is a graphic designer (he hits the skateboard park after work most nights). But when they are all at the bar they are just Anwar, Josh, Chris and Sam, laughing, joking and taking a little breather from their day-to-day lives.

As a custodian of a public house, the onus is firmly positioned on your shoulders as to what guise you wish to present your pub in and the demographic that you wish to encourage, but don't get lost along the way or forget where the foundations of a great pub originate: in its patrons, its characters, its history, its stories, and its ability to welcome all with open arms with no preconceptions.

So in answer to the original question, the very ‘pub person' you mention should not have to be made to feel at home, every individual that crosses the threshold of a pub in essence should be extended the utmost hospitality as you would when a guest enters your home, this is your duty as a custodian to uphold the very cornerstone of what the Great British Pub has long stood for.

In summary, the pub in 2023: a haven that possesses no preconceptions, embraces all with open arms – an institute for the people.

Seasonal food and drink pairing: lobster and Chenin Blanc

We'll soon be heading into lobster season, which calls for a wine of complexity and richness to match its luxuriousness. Ken Forrester's FMC Chenin Blanc is just the ticket! Bold, ripe stone and tropical fruits mix elegantly with a supple, creamy smokiness. One of the world's best Chenins, it's perfect with lobster.

Do you have a question for one of the Drinks Doctors? Send your query to drinks@thecaterer.com

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