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14 March 2009

Drink at London's oldest Wine Bar

A long time favourite haunt of civil servants and those who work around Charing Cross/Covent Garden, Gordon's Wine Bar is an institution, and benefits from being one of the best pubs in the area.

Established in 1890, Gordon's is certainly the oldest wine bar in London, and possibly the oldest in the world. Now owned by Wendy Gordon, the wife of the late Luis Gordon, who was responsible for much of the bars current reputation, the bar was first set up by an Arthur Gordon in 1890, though the current Gordon family aren't related to him.

The building in which Gordon's is situated was home to Samuel Pepys in the 1680s, and Rudyard Kipling in the 1890s, as a tenant in the parlour above the bar. As a whole the building used to be a riverside warehouse, but this ceased in 1864 when the embankment was built and the building was landlocked.

The bar is reasonably hard to spot if you don't know it's there as it involves going through and anonymous looking door off Villiers Street, or down a side street, but once you're inside it is almost always packed out.

One caution for the uninititated is that Gordon's only sells wines and fortified wines, so you should not expect beer or spirits on your visit. Both are, however, served in ample portions in a cellared atmosphere which is virtually unrivalled in this area of London, so this is something to be thankful for. There is also the option of a range of cheese and meat-based food, should you work up a hunger. On Sundays there is also a substantial roast.

All in all, Gordon's is unrivalled, and we are lucky to have it. Long may it survive, unchanged and unchallenged. The Gordon's website alone, at http://www.gordonswinebar.com/, is absolutely intriguing.

Click here to see the location on a map.

^Picture from flickr courtesy of L-plate big cheese^


  1. Yup, great place. It may be tricky to spot, but you can't miss the sound in the summer. The 'beer garden' (actually an alley running alongside the building) becomes rammed with drinkers and smokers on those hot July evenings.

  2. Great place, but I believe that London's oldest wine bar is actually the Boot and Flogger on Redcross Way, SE1.

  3. Hmmm, I'm sure this is an argument that could run and run.

    Gordon's claim to be the oldest, on their website, whereas Davy's Wines on London, the owners of the Boot and Flogger date the opening of their winebar to 1964.

    However, I'm not sure what all this I see about the Boot and Flogger and a charter by Elizabeth I in 1567 is about. Was the Charter specific to the bar? Is it older? Does it count if it closed and was reopened by another company? Who knows...