Forget the trend-setters for five minutes and celebrate some of the finest long-standing, authentic and traditional pubs in Glasgow, writes Stephen McIlkenny
The internet is saturated (if you’ll excuse the pun) with lists of the best watering holes in Glasgow. From fine cuisine to fancy cocktails, the emphasis is usually on style-over-substance, or whether the bar serves tapas or has exposed lighting.
But what if, like me, you are a resident of Glasgow and fancy going into a pub for a bit of company, some good chat and a decent pint before calling it a night after work. You want to avoid the hustle and bustle of hipsters, tourists and budding musicians playing a cover of an Arctic Monkeys song for the umpteenth time.
We’ve got you covered with our list of the best ‘proper pubs’ in Glasgow. They might not serve cocktails in jam jars or burgers on chopping boards, but they are all Glasgow through and through.
To kick-start the list we’ve found a cheeky wee pub that has the best of both worlds. Don’t be fooled by the exterior as although The Admiral has the “old man pub exterior ” it draws in a youngish crowd, especially at weekends. You can easily have a quiet pint in the upstairs area on old bar stools, or head downstairs and dance like there is no tomorrow. This place hosted Billy Connolly in the 1970s and probably hasn’t changed much since then.
72a Waterloo Street, Glasgow, G2 7DA (0141 221 7705) www.theadmiralbar.com
Famous for being the bar in which Begbie lobs a pint glass over his shoulder in Trainspotting, Crosslands has played its part in Scottish film history. There’s usually a mix of locals and those wishing to see the “Begbie bar” making for a classic Glaswegian atmosphere – and you can often find a fairly lively karaoke if you time your visit right. Just don’t go throwing any pint glasses…
182 Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow G20 8NX (0141 576 0127)
Established in 1797, Sloans claims to be Glasgow’s oldest bar and restaurant. It features a round bar and faded façade (complete with a hanging sign outside) and there’s an old market outside at the weekend which can make you feel like you’ve just hurtled back through time to the 1900s. It does a fine selection of ales and beers and has a real sense of history.
62 Argyll Arcade/108 Argyle Street, G2 8BG (0141 221 8886, www.sloansglasgow.com)
The Horseshoe Bar
Legendary in Glasgow, it would probably be harder to find a local who hasn’t been in the Horseshoe. Measuring 104 feet and three inches, the grand Victorian bar claims to be the longest in Europe. It combines old style tendencies and style with modern efficiency. One thing is for sure: you’ll never have a quiet one in The Horseshoe
17-19 Dury Street, Glasgow, G2 5AE (0141 248 6368, www.thehorseshoebarglasgow.co.uk)
A pub in the heart and soul of a community is always going to be as good as its locals, and the Georgic Bar scores highly on this front. Located in the Southside of the city, The Georgic offers good, friendly service and has kept its long standing traditions since it opened in 1945. Popular with older patrons, there is often horse racing and a real feel of authenticity about the place.
1097 Pollockshaws Road, G41, 3YG (0141 632 2317)
The Pot Still
If you’ve never been to The Pot Still we guarantee that you’ll be overwhelmed by the scale of drinks they offer. Claiming to host the largest selection of malt whisky in Scotland, this pub was founded in 1835 and offers a lovely warm atmosphere, combined with a real sense of history. Legend has it that in 1984 a group of Japanese businessmen working in London flew up to Glasgow for the day to try a malt unavailable anywhere else.
154 Hope Street, Glasgow. G2 2TH, (www.thepotstill.co.uk)
Nico’s Cafe Bar
Some people insist a night begins and ends at Nico’s. Originally started as a brasserie hoping to bring French cuisine to the city, to put it simply you cannot beat Nico’s on a hot day as it opens up all its door and lets Glasgow come inside, offering fine food and a lively atmosphere at the weekends. Despite losing some of it’s “old man” appeal, Nico’s is a pub that welcomes and appeals to all.
Sauchiehall Street, G2 3HU (0141 3327438)
The Park Bar
The Park Bar probably has the most flags in the world, ever (NB – no way near an actual fact). Covered in saltires and Scotland memorabilia, The Park Bar is a step back to the real Glasgow. The big wooden bar, small, low stools and a wide range of food, drink and live music make it a must-visit.
1202 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8TE (0141 339 1715)
Queen’s Park Café
Sticking to cafe-style bars, the Southside’s Queen’s Park Café serves fine food and drink in a unique environment. Tucked away in its own wee corner just off of Queens Park, the café offers fine décor, comfy seating and a long bar to attract all types of punter. It has its regulars but it’s also very welcome and open to those just popping by.
530 Victoria Road, Shawlands, G42 8BG (0141 424 1374)
The State Bar
The oldest comedy bar in the city is a must if you are inclined to a spot of stand-up, and worth checking out if not for one of the cheapest and most cheerful nights in Glasgow.
148-148A Holland St, G2 4NG (0141 332 2159, www.comedyatthestate.co.uk)
This place is a real gem. Situated on Pollockshaws Road, Kelly’s is a place where you will never be alone, as the staff and manager are always willing to talk and joke as they pour you a fine pint of Guiness (it does a mean pint of Guiness). With Gaelic sporting memorabilia and brewing history on the wall, as well as old fashioned beer barrels to sit on, Kelly’s is a real unsung hero in the Glasgow pub scene.
686-688 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow, G41 2QB (0141 423 1387)
The Ben Nevis
Last, but by no means least we head to the West End to The Ben Nevis, where thankfully it’s much easier to get a pint in the pub than it is up the mountain of the same name. A nice local, it offers the best of both worlds with music at the weekend. Whilst keeping the exterior, Ben Nevis has a unique retro-modern interior and is a fine addition to our list.
1147 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8TB (141 576 5204)
[Main image: Pie, chips and peas – and a pint – at The Horseshoe Bar]
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