Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Two drinkers, off to see the world

Followers of this blog will be familiar with my love of a good drink. I do appreciate a quality, hard liquor beverage, perfectly served. Indeed, TLOML and I built our relationship on sharing such pleasures.

So those who know of Saltburn's Quaker past might wonder how we are faring - living in a town which didn't have any pubs at all for over a hundred years. Saltburn in the 1800s had just an old smugglers inn - The Ship - at the bottom of the cliffs. Thanks to the Quaker town planners, the town proper at the top of the cliffs was a model of sobriety. Only the hotels and restaurants could serve alchohol. My dad remembers enjoying a pint at the Queens Hotel while my oldest sister was being born in the nearby maternity hospital. (Those were the halcyon days for expectant dads. TLOML barely had time to pee, never mind go for a pint, when I was in labour).

Times have changed, thank goodness. The Queens is no longer a hotel but its bar remains. The other hotel bar, the Alexandra Vaults, is still running as a pub despite the fact the hotel is now a block of flats. It's known locally as the Back Alex as it's, um, round the back of the Alexandra Hotel.
The old Alexandra Hotel

The Back Alex - nicest pub in Saltburn, despite (or because of?) being up an alleyway

The Victoria, another favourite

Those former hotel bars look rather different to the hotel bars I have previously enjoyed - fancy places like SLS in Beverly Hills, the Pleiades (with the fancy nuts) in New York's Surrey Hotel. They are good honest boozers, rather than glitzy bars with astronomical prices. And they're supplemented by some more good honest boozers, the pubs that were created when Saltburn shook off its Quaker past: The Victoria, and the Marine, replete with sticky carpets, hand pulled bitter, and pub paraphernalia on the walls. Then there's Rapps, a cafe which is all buzzy with drinkers on a Friday night. So there are plenty of options. More options than we have nights out to explore them, frankly.

It's a somewhat less sophisticated drinking scene than TLOML and I have been used to in our previous, posher, postcodes. Gin and tonic is rarely served with a slice of lime (still less, cucumber - they'd probably hound you out of town for asking for that). And there's nowhere we can stop into at midnight on our way home for a range of single malts, or a Perfect Manhattan. The hipster speakeasies of lower Manhattan, the beach bars of Malibu, and those fancy hotel bars I just mentioned, seem very far away.

But for a pint of bitter shandy, served without pretension, you can't beat Saltburn. And these days, a pint of bitter shandy is about all we get out for anyway. So I'd say we have the perfect drinking scene here on our doorstep.


  1. Good heavens, had no idea the Quakers had banned alcohol in Saltburn. My Quaker, homebrew-making father, would have been shocked!

  2. Ah yes, Cumulus - Saltburn was indeed a Quaker town. All the pubs were on the outskirts and there were only 6 of them when I was growing up.

    (btw, thanks for the tip on the blog - great fun to read as a Saltburn girl married to a Californian!)


  3. Those town building Quakers probably gave the rest of the home brew loving Quakers a bad name, Cumulus!
    LM, welcome to the blog, hope you enjoy.
    Sorry for the slow response to comments - thought I had responded on my iphone but either my comments were lost in cyberspace, or I dreamed that I did it...