15 May 2014

Sloane Pubs

'It is almost a quarter of a century since the cowboy look was the height of fashion. It was a time when blue jeans, leather jackets and snakeskin boots trod the plains of Chelsea and Knightsbridge and groovy Sloane Rangers drunk themselves stupid in the pubs of Knightsbridge and Belgravia - in particular at The Australian, The Admiral Codrington and The Grenadier. These three pubs were once as hip as The Met Bar, downstairs at The Pharmacy or the Long Bar at The Sanderson Hotel.

 So it was a delight to see that Madonna - in her new western look - repaired to the Grenadier pub in Wilton Row after her Brixton Academy show on Tuesday night, and not as expected to the Microsoft party in Brick Lane. The real private party was in the pub after closing time in the tiny mews behind Wilton Crescent, a few hundred yards from where the American singer rented a house last summer. Ali G, Mel C, Goldie and Kelly Brook were all there, so too was Madonna's boyfriend Guy Ritchie. The fat black Mercedes choked the little cobbled street.

It is a generation since pubs like The Grenadier were in fashion. Then the young trustafarians enjoyed a rite of passage in the dimly lit saloon bars of SW1. The teenage snog, the early retch from a bellyful of rum and coke and, of course, the first bread roll thrown in jest were all once enacted at either "The Admiral Cod" in Mossop Street, or The Grenadier in Wilton Mews, or The Australian in Milner Street.

They were the spiritual (and spirited) London bolt holes during the Sloane years, that brief period at the latter end of the last century when the civilised world gaped at, and very occasionally aped, the young Gucci-shod upper-class Hooray Henrys and the ra-ra-skirted Marlboro-smoking Sloane Rangers. The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook ("The First Guide to What Really Matters in Life') then described the Admired Codrington, for example, as the Young Sloane HQ.

Now, 20 years later, the old Hooray bars have returned to prominence. Imperceptibly, they are emerging as the chic watering holes of the new young rich, where the bright young things, celebrities, PRs, advertising executives, City slickers and the Prince William set hang out.

The Grenadier is so popular on a Sunday morning that you need a ticket to order a Bloody Mary. It is Chris Evans's favourite pub. Saffron Rainey, co-owner of Woody's, drinks there, and it is an occasional haunt of Lady Gabriella Windsor. Lord Edward Spencer Churchill (the respectable and rich stepbrother of the dissolute Jamie Blandford) drinks around the corner at the Admiral Codrington and the actress Joely Richardson often eats there. So too does the restaurateur Gordon Ramsay and the perfume queen Jo Malone. The young royal circle that includes Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Tom Parker Bowles and Prince William's chums the van Cutsems patronise all three, while the socialites like Catrina Skepper, Emma Gibbs, Johnny Yeo and Sheba Ronay provide the fashionable Shakespearean chorus.

Twenty years ago The Sloane Ranger Handbook noted: "On any midweek evening a dozen or so Hooray Henrys can be found in the SW1 pubs surrounded by other Sloane Ranger men. They are clearly discernible by the desperate dogged expression of men yearning to get pissed and steal a yellow zebra-crossing beacon." Once they were a haven for under-age drinking (it was jokingly claimed that you weren't allowed in unless you were under 18). They were where you could be introduced to soft and hard drugs and probably where you met your future spouse. But by the Nineties they had run their course, and their more infamous patrons like Dai Llewellyn, Lord Bristol and Jamie Blandford had vanished into death or respectability. By the time the Nineties were in full lime-green swing, the then chic were living in Daphne's opposite the Michelin building in South Kensington and only a few hundred yards from The Grenadier. It was Eurotrash's hacienda. The handsome European Mogens Tholstrup became the pin-up for the new vogue that patronised his restaurant. It was the neighbourhood local for Ivana Trump, Koo Stark and Britt Ekland. It was home to those glorious Nineties celebrity names like James Palumbo, Andrew Neil, Cosima von Bulow and Tania Bryer (how quickly we forget) who all revelled in the limelight at the blond Dane's eaterie. But now Mogens, his blond highlights and his glittering comrades have been downgraded to the Diary of The Week pages of Hello! magazine.

And into the vacuum has slipped the revamped Admiral Codrington, the unchanging Australian (which too is occasionally visited by Madonna) and of course The Grenadier. The young Sloanes may have moved on from blue jeans and cowboy boots to Joseph flat-fronted black trousers and Gina sandals, but they still need to get sloshed and whoop it up. The three establishments are still there fighting to be the most fashionable, but Madonna's Tuesday night party has successfully put The Grenadier firmly into the new Sloane groove.'

Sloane Pub gets Madonna boost, London Evening Standard, 30 November 2000


Ivar said...

The mind boggles at the idea of a Brit dressed up in 'the Western look.' And, of course, that old slag, Madonna, is an ornament to any establishment.

Anonymous said...

The cowboy looks is gone?
Wait, never mind, I'm in Texas.

Soxtory said...

The Grenadier has been my favorite pub in London for many, many years. Hard to find unless you are in a taxi and remember the name of the little street. If you are at Morning Prayer at St. Paul's Knightsbridge, then it is directly behind the Church.

A good place to avoid laddish behavior found in most London pubs.

Anonymous said...

I think we used to go to the Moore Arms round the corner fro the Australian at the height of the Australian/Shuckborough/admiral Cod days as a more exclusive, more authentic, cooler pub (God we were awful). I still go to the Antelope in SS when I am in London.hasn't changed, unlike the others. The Cod always smelled of sick, if I recall.