Whatever you call it – the pub, the local, the good old-fashioned boozer – few things are as important to the British way of life. It’s a place where friendships are formed, legends made and lives changed forever.
So it’s little wonder the pub has played such an important role in the history of British cinema.
And it’s not all fiction y’ know. Some of the greatest pubs from British film are actual places selling actual real-life booze.
A few of the greats have called last orders, such as The Winchester from Shaun of the Dead, and The Mother Black Cap, where Withnail was almost pummeled for being a “perfume ponce”. Gone but most certainly not forgotten.
While we raise a toast to their memory, have a look at our round-up of the greatest and most iconic movies pubs still serving...
Written by Tom Fordy
The Slaughtered Lamb
The Film: An American Werewolf In London (1981)
The Scene: Backpackers David and Jack stop by to get out of the cold. Questions are asked about the décor, dartboards missed, and before you can say, “beware the moon”, the locals have turfed them out.
The Real Pub: The interior shots were filmed at the surprisingly pleasant and contemporary The Black Swan, in Ockham, Surrey. There’s not a single pentangle on the wall or monster roaming outside. That we know of.
Your Drinks Order: A Bloody Mary? Bloody hairy, more like. Ahem.
The Dry Bar
The Film: 24 Hour Party People (2002)
The Scene: Shaun Ryder opens fire and holds the new Happy Mondays record hostage, settling for Tony Wilson’s (Steve Coogan) offer of £50. It would be a sweet deal for Factory Records if the Mondays hadn’t already blown £200,000 of their cash on crack cocaine.
The Real Pub: The real Dry Bar in Oldham Street, central Manchester, which was originally opened by none other than Tony Wilson himself.
The Drinks Order: A fruity cocktail with twisted melon, man.
The Film: Frenzy (1972)
The Scene: Barman Blaney (Jon Finch) gets the sack for half-inching a crafty measure out of the optics. Still, could be the worse – before he has chance to collect his P45 he’s accused of being the “Neck Tie” sex killer and goes on the run.
The Real Pub: It’s been done up a bit since, but the Globe is still in the heart of Covent Garden, adjacent to the Royal Opera House.
The Drinks Order: Nip behind the bar and help yourself to a measure. Just don’t get caught. Or leave your neck tie lying around either.
The Four Feathers
The Film: Brighton Rock (1947)
The Scene: Teenage hoodlum Pinkie (Richard Attenborough) and his crew put the frighteners on a journalist whose story caused their boss’s death.
The Real Pub: Though most scenes were shot on sets, the Star & Garter Hotel was the inspiration for the pub in Graham Greene’s original novel and script. It’s now called Doctor Brighton’s, a relaxing spot for knocking back cocktails while overlooking the sea.
The Drinks Order: A port and two light ales – the last thing the journo orders before Pinkie chucks the poor bugger off a roller coaster.
The Firedrake & Firkin
The Film: Human Traffic (1999)
The Scene: John Simm and a baby-faced Danny Dyer kick off a weekend of pill-popping hedonistic carnage. But first, a rendition of their updated version of the national anthem. “Who is the Queen” indeed.
The Real Pub: The former Firedrake & Firkin of Cathays, Cardiff has since been rebranded as the Scream pub Gassy Jack’s. Which means cheap-as-chips drinks for students and… well, cheap chips.
The Drinks Order: Shots all round is the only way to get involved with a bender of Human Traffic proportions. Reach for the lazers.
The Film: Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
The Scene: Afro-sporting bad-ass Rory Breaker (Vas Blackwood) sets fire to some bloke for asking him to turn the volume down on the footie. Well, we’ve all had tense games.
The Real Pub: The Royal Oak, which is well known for its top-notch grub and stands in the middle of the East End’s famous Columbia Road flower market.
The Drinks Order: Some big cocktail with loads of jungle-style decoration. Something in which you could “fall in love with an orangutan”, as Jason Statham so eloquently put it, before he went all double-hard bastard.
Millthorpe Working Men's Club
The Film: The Full Monty (1997)
The Scene: A bunch of out-of-work blokes earn a few bob by getting their kit off for a roomful of screaming women while Tom Jones bellows about the importance of hats.
The Real Pub: While the club exterior was filmed elsewhere, Shiregreen Working Men’s Club in Sheffield is where the lads did their stripping routine (for real, we might add).
The Drinks Order: A pint for yourself and something long and hard for your significant other. Or so you’d hope, anyway.
The Film: The Long Good Friday (1980)
The Scene: Visiting Belfast on some dodgy business, gangland associate Colin (Paul Freeman) stops for a few pints before being ambushed by the IRA.
The Real Pub: The ruddy massive Grade II-listed Salisbury Hotel in Harringay, north London. It’s one of the capital’s grandest and most impressive looking watering holes.
Your Drinks Order: In honour of Bob Hoskins’ cock-er-nee gangster Harold Shand, half an ‘Arold Shand-y, barkeep.
The Horse & Groom
The Film: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (2005)
The Scene: Arthur (Martin Freeman) learns his best pal Ford (Mos Def) is in fact an alien and the world is about to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace express route.
The Real Pub: The Beehive in the rather green and pleasant Buntingford, Herts.
The Drinks Order: If they’re not serving Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, then something strong enough to help you forget you’re in the crap film version of Hitchhiker’s Guide and not the proper one from off the telly years ago.
The Black Prince
The Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
The Scene: Gentleman super-spy Galahad (Colin Firth) tears through a gang of halfwitted yobbos by putting a pint glass and umbrella to creative – albeit very violent – use. Yep, turns out Mr Darcy is an actual bad-ass.
The Real Pub: The Black Prince, Kennington. Which is nowhere near as rough as it looks in the movie.
The Drinks Order: A lovely pint of Guinness, just like our posh hero takes. And please ask politely – manners maketh the man, apparently.
The World's End
The Film: The World’s End (2013)
The Scene: Childhood friends Gary (Simon Pegg) and Andy (Nick Frost) reach the final pub in the epic “Golden Mile” pub-crawl. Oh, and they bring about the destruction of humanity by getting into a drunken argument with some aliens trying to take over the world.
The Real Pub: The Gardener’s Arms in Letchworth Garden City. They do carvery and all-you-can-eat ice cream, which is better than the apocalypse any day of the week.
The Drinks Order: Drink whatever you like. It’s the end of the bloody world.
The Vic & Comet
The Film: Get Carter (1971)
The Scene: Gangster Jack Carter (Michael Caine) returns to Newcastle to investigate the mysterious death of his brother. He orders a pint with more effortless menace than anyone in the history of drinking.
The Real Pub: The Victoria Comet, Newcastle. It was an O’Neill’s for years, but was recently reopened with a modern twist on its old name. There are plenty of nods to the classic revenge flick inside.
The Drinks Order: A pint of bitter. In a thin glass.
"The Begbie Arms
The Film: Trainspotting (1996)
The Scene: Feral lunatic Begbie recounts a story about smashing some poor bloke’s head in for eating crisps too loudly. Then he launches a pint over the balcony and smashes a few more heads in.
The Real Pub: Though unnamed in the film, it’s actually the Crosslands in Glasgow. It looks like a church hall from the outside – ironic considering the booze, heroin, and glassing that’s made it a piece of pop culture history.
The Drinks Order: A pint. And take the empty back to the bar afterwards, nice and sensible like.
The Drowning Trout
The Film: Snatch (2000)
The Scene: Two idiots stick their guns in Vinnie Jones’ hardened mush. If only they didn’t have the word “replica” written on the barrel.
The Real Pub: Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners in Lambeth, south London. A spacious Victorian boozer, it was spruced up a treat by new German owners a few years back (or "ze Germans", as The Stath might call them) and is now big on continental beer and good quality football.
The Drinks Order: Whatever it takes to get mashed up.
The Film: Hot Fuzz (2007)
The Scene: On his first night in the village of Sanford, hotshot copper Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) nicks a bar-load of underage drinkers then books his own partner Danny (Nick Frost) for driving under the influence.
The Real Pub: The Royal Standard of England in Beaconsfield, Bucks, which dates back a whopping 900 years.
The Drinks Order: Just a cranberry juice while on duty, thanks very much. And a Cornetto, if they’ve got one.
The Blind Beggar
The Film: The Krays (1990)
The Scene: George Cornell (Steven Berkoff) coats Ronnie Kray right off, prompting Ronnie (played by one half of the Spandau Ballet rhythm section) to turn up later and shoot Cornell right in the face.
The Real Pub: The bar where the scene was filmed is long gone, so what better excuse to visit the real Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel. It has plenty of history and a nice cosy garden – pretty much everything you want from a boozer.
The Drinks Order: Just a shooter. See what we did there?
The Green Man
The Film: The Wicker Man (1973)
The Scene: While investigating the disappearance of a young girl on the remote island of Summerisle, Sgt Howie is treated to a little ditty from the bonkers locals. He should enjoy the merriment while it lasts. Before things, erm, hot up.
The Real Pub: The interior of the Green Man was filmed at the Ellangowan Hotel in Creetown, Dumfries and Galloway. If the staff invites you to a bonfire, leg it.
The Drinks Order: Something befitting the rustic setting, like a proper ale or whiskey. And one for the landlord’s daughter.
The King Henry
The Film: Withnail & I (1987)
The Scene: Instead of buying wellington boots, Withnail and Marwood head straight for the King Henry, then stumble out utterly arseholed and cause chaos in the Penrith Tea Rooms.
The Real Pub: The Mother Black Cap might be gone, but Crown in Stony Stratford is still going strong, and has been since the 17th Century. Unfortunately, there’s no actual tearoom to terrorize – it’s a pharmacy. Though you’re more than welcome to go in pissed-up and demand cake.
Your Drinks Order: The finest wines available to humanity, naturally. Failing that, the house red.