On the rare occasions I was allowed into a pub as a nipper I seem to remember chaps in cricket whites sporting handlebar moustaches and beards drowning their sorrows from proper dimpled pint jugs after my local boozer, the Red Lion, had suffered another defeat at the hands of the Dog and Duck.
The Red Lion’s team was made up of a right old rabble, mainly portly fellows in their forties and fifties with glowing red cheeks and double chins. Collectively they were so bad they literally could have lost to a dog and a duck.
Any rate, there seemed to be something magical about the humble jug, I knew that, even as a young whippersnapper. The trouble was, I had to make do with a glass of R-Whites lemonade while being surrounded by Neanderthals who laughed louder with every swig of beer.
Sadly, by the time I had reached drinking age, the straight pint glass was all the rage and my drinking experience was the poorer for it. However, all is not lost.
Over the last year or so, I have been boozing at a place where I get served my ale in a jug, and I don’t even have to ask for one. In fact, a whole new generation of punters is discovering the simple pleasures of the pint jug.
I knew I was on to a good thing when I walked through the doors of this boozer to be greeted by the Magnificent Seven– six real ale pumps and one cider.
I could have had any one of four Adnams ales– Gunhill (4%), Regatta (4.3%), Southwold (3.7%) and Lighthouse (3.4%), plus Caledonian’s Nectar (4.3%), Sunset Cider and Pure UBU (4.5%) from the Purity Brewery.
I went for the latter which arrived in a good old fashioned dimpled pint jug.At the risk of sounding like an anorak, it’s my favourite drinking vessel.
OK. I’m an anorak.
I’m not really a lager drinker, but if I was then I’d beat a path to this place more often. If you want Stella or Carling then you’ll have to go elsewhere because at this boozer they have a fine array of unusual lagers.
The atmosphere was lively with the banter generated by south London’s brigade of bright young things and it was obvious, to me at least, that the dimpled pint jug isn’t the only thing making a bit of a comeback.
Beards, cardigans, spectacles and foppish haircuts were all in evidence and I even spotted one punter sporting a good old-fashioned handlebar moustache.
God bless her.
Even for a dull old thing like me, it’s not hard to see why these bright sparks are attracted to such a boozer. It’s large, has plenty of character and is the kind of place where you can easily enjoy a Saturday sozzle session or just sit, sup and soak up the latest depressing tittle-tattle from the Sunday papers.
The main bar, with it’s tiled floor, was very busy on my visit. The Beatlesclassic track With A Little Help from My Friends was playing in the background. The sound of laughter was prevalant as most of the punters were having a good time with a little help, of course, from their friends.
The only two who seemed to be having not such a good time were a couple sat in a corner, who by the look of it, were on a date. Unfortunately both had come dressed in a red and white checked shirt and jeans, and as such, stood out like saw thumbs.
Perhaps these two lovebirds would have been better off having a bite to eat in the back bar where the candlit atmosphere would have made their fashion faux-pas less obvious. Here, a couple can repair their damaged relationship while still enjoying the more intimate surroundings.
A short hop up a small staircase will bring you to another relatively large bar which houses a pool table, plenty more seating and a large screen on which football-lovers can feast their eyes on such Premier League delights as Hull versus Sunderland or Stoke against Fulham.
Outdoorsy types might light to know that, should the sun ever come out again, then there’s a decent-sized beer garden here which acts as a bit of a suntrap.
For people like me, the Antelope is the perfect escape from the chaos of Tooting High Street. It’s a little oasis of calm where I can relax, unwind and get my paws on pint jug. Sometimes it’s the dimpled things in life that make all the difference.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY…
ATMOSPHERE: **** Lively. Plenty of banter, no rowdy behaviour and decent music in the background.
PRICE: *** OK. Par for the course these days. £3.30 for my Purity and Caledonian’s Nectar, £3.10 for Adnams Regatta.
SELECTION: ***** Can’t fault it at all really. I’ve been to this boozer many times and they always have a steady rotation of ales with an excellent selection of lagers for those who like a bit of fizz in their drink.
SERVICE: **** This is a well-drilled unit. The staff were rushed off their feet and that included keeping the waiting punters happy, like myself.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: Antic, the folk responsible for running the Antelope and a host of other London pubs, are doing a pretty decent job, I have to say. Thank crikey someone has realised the importance of the beer jug.