First off the bat, I have to express that I am devastated – DEVASTATED – to discover that the Angel, a manky looking Wetherspoons just down the road from the station of the same name, is not on Upper Street. Who knew? Well, they did, it turns out, and told me so when I went in to enquire. It’s actually on Islington High Street. So now we know.
The delights of change from a tenner, sticky floors and a vaguely unsettling atmosphere will just have to wait. I can’t get down if it ain’t Upper.
Onwards and alongwards, I am determined to start on my Upper Street journey this very night. After a quick swim at the new St Pancras Square pool (exceedingly lovely, do pop down if you’re in the area and fancy a dip), I try and convince my friend Ruth to accompany me on my first Up Her Street mission. She declines, citing other “commitments”, which turn out to be packing away her colanders in time to get her kitchen redone next week. It’s a sobering reminder of just how Islington most of my friends are these days.
But I am not to be put off, and sally forth alone. As it turns out, the very first bona fide Upper Street watering hole turns out to be The Nags Head – part gastro pub, part North London bar. It doesn’t quite seem to know which persona to go for, or maybe it’s just a people-pleasing prostitute sort of a venue, arching its eyebrow coquettishly before husking, “I’ll be whatever you want me to be…”
The big pink neon sign in the window proclaims Cocktails, and so I follow its advice, requesting an Amaretto Sour. Only it turns out it’s two for one cocktail time (SPRING BREAK!), and so I am brought two drinks to my table, where I sit, all alone, like some unhinged yet fairly classy alcoholic.
It is actually testament to the ambience of the place that I am not all that uncomfortable supping my two drinks solo, while sporting severely smudged eye make-up and post-pool rats tail hair. No one seems to be staring at me, or whispering, or even silently judging my decision to see off both sours in under 45 minutes. Of course, this does mean that I am now accidentally drunk, alone, on a Thursday night. But, y’know. Schmeh.
That, along with extremely good value prices at happy hour and the fact that within five minutes I’ve heard Kate Bush’s Running up that Hill playing at a not-too-antisocial volume from the sound system, means The Nags Head gets my seal of approval. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.
Best for: Getting pissed alone. Obvs
Food? Yes. Standard trying too hard gastro fare, eg Fish finger ciabatta, £6.95
Booze? Yes. From 4pm to 10pm, Sunday to Thursday, cocktails are two for one. A thoroughly passable Amaretto Sour, £7.65
Ambience: Friendly crowd, generally 30 plus, not too trendy and not too judgemental about drinking alone
Décor: Fairly plain – simple, attractive wood-panelled walls are coupled with an incongruous giant neon cocktail sign in the window, yet the lighting inside is just a shade too bright to be flattering
Service: Excellent. An Irishman brought two cocktails to my table, no comment, no questions asked
Recommended? Indeed! A cheap yet superior after work boozer if ever there was one.