London in 7 Drinks Tour
Join Dr Matthew Green on an epic whirlwind tour through the metropolis exploring how 7 drinks forged modern London: ale, wine, mead, coffee, chocolate, tea, and gin. During the 4-hour tour, you’ll stop for revitalising coffees, sample luxury 18th century-style hot chocolate, drink medieval wine out of coconut shells, and have the best gin-and-tonic in London.
Generous servings of each of the 7 drinks are included in the price, along with admission to the Dr Johnson House and Museum.
From the convivial coffeehouses of the 17th century to rowdy Georgian “mug-houses” and the grandiose gin palaces of the Victorian era, this four-hour whirlwind tour will give you a new perspective on the history of London, quenching both your intellectual and literal thirst.
- This tour was inspired by a piece Matthew wrote for the Financial Times exploring how gin, tea and talk made modern London. Read the feature here.
- “Dr Matthew Green, author of ‘London: A Travel Guide Through Time’, has a knack for revealing the most unexpected details of London’s multifaceted past in fascinating and accessible detail” – Daily Telegraph
Some of the key stops on the tour…
London’s Oldest Coffeehouse and Murat Ye Great’s Chocolate House, Cornhill
Beginning outside St Michael’s Church, Cornhill, we will explore the area’s labyrinth of medieval alleyways and ancient public houses revealing how, from the 1650s, “bitter Muhammedan gruel” – coffee – and “the drink of the Gods” – hot chocolate – transformed the face and social fabric of London forever.
A Lost City Vineyard and the Northbank Bar
Beginning at medieval Guildhall, we’ll travel back in time to give you a taste of everyday life in the medieval metropolis through the medium of wine. At Cleary Gardens by Huggin Hill, we’ll gurgle down some delicious medieval-style wine from coconut shells and learn about the City’s lost vineyards. Crossing the Vintry, overlooking Thames Street, we’ll take in the ancient port at Queenhithe before visiting the Northbank bar at the foot of the Millennium Bridge for a glass of mead wine, popular amongst the warlords and knights of Anglo-Saxon London.
Dr Johnson’s House and Museum, Gough Square
An exquisitely preserved timber-framed brick townhouse nestling among a maze of courts and alleys built at the end of the 17th century and occupied by the gouty lexicographer and tea addict Dr Samuel Johnson (and his black cat Hodge). We’ll take tea inside, tour the house where he wrote the dictionary, and hear how tea eclipsed coffee as the national beverage in the late Georgian period.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, off Fleet Street
One of the oldest taverns in London – and arguably the most atmospheric – this was Dr Johnson’s local public house, “a throne of human felicity” where he experienced “an oblivion of care and freedom from solicitude”. In its gloomy wooden interior with ancient wooden panelling and the floor strewn with sawdust, we’ll drink a hearty pint beer and hear about the impact of ale and beer on London from the Middle Ages to the present day.
The City of London Distillery, St Bride’s Lane
Leapfrogging from past to present, the tour finishes up in the City of London Distillery on St Bride’s Lane. An institution at the heart of London’s recent ‘Ginnaissance’, this chic venue is leading the way in rehabilitating what was once widely castigated – not least by William Hogarth – as an agent of oblivion and scourge of the working glasses. So a perfect place to narrate the chequered history of the juniper berry and its continued influence on London.
This will be the official end of the tour but the night will be young and there’ll be ample opportunity to get in some more drinks, get to know your fellow adventurers better, and perhaps purchase a signed copy of Dr Matthew Green’s book on which the tour is based, London: A Travel Guide Through Time.
More about your guide…
Historian Dr Matthew Green is the author of the acclaimed book London: A Travel Guide Through Time (Penguin), which has been described by William Hague as ‘an excellent and vivid work of history’, by Liza Picard as ‘a must for anyone interested in London’s history’ and by the Londonist as ‘easily the most engaging social history of London for a decade’. Matthew also writes historical features for the Guardian, Financial Times and Telegraph among others, and has featured in TV documentaries on BBC 2, ITV, Channel 4, and BBC4, and is a regular on BBC Radio London. He is the co-founder of Unreal City Audio.
Date: Saturday 15 June 2019
Times: 1.30pm – 6.00pm
Meeting point: The steps of St Michael’s Church, Cornhill, by the site of London’s first coffee house. It’s approached from Cornhill and is a five-minute walk from Bank Tube.
Price: £49; £47 saver (includes booking fee, entrance charges, taxis, and drinks)
Dr Matthew Green
In 2009, Dr Matthew Green completed a PhD in the history of the mass media at Oxford University. Unmoved by the prospect of a cloistered academic life he turned to popular history and now writes for the Guardian and Telegraph, appears on BBC TV and radio, teaches a wide range of historical subjects, and gives sell-out talks at the Idler Academy, 5x15, Port Eliot and elsewhere. He is currently writing a book on 17th and 18th-century coffeehouses.