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Bar Essentials: The Pen & Wig

Pubs we have felt it necessary to adjourn to already this week

Published on February 8th 2011.

Bar Essentials: The Pen & Wig

What’s the story?
Morning glory as it goes. You see, the basement of The Pen & Wig has long been home to Aphrodites lap dancing bar, a fact which prompts a constant stream of joviality upstairs.

Described by them as “a spectacular and glamorous venue with a unique reputation for class and atmosphere”. Aphrodite's is better known elsewhere as one of the “top 10 places to go on a stag do”.

Women of a sensitive disposition beware. When entering the Pen & Wig – and it shares the entrance with Aphrodites - visiting the bar and/or toilet you are likely to encounter at least one of the following “downstairs jokes”.

Personal favourites: “Cellar for you, girl!”

“What time does your shift start?”

“You were a while. Nip downstairs to pay for the round did you?”

Plenty more Aphrodite banter is to be had, but we are better than that. Plus, this is about The Pen & Wig.

Why go there?
For the enormous crack, of course (I thought we had stopped talking about Aphrodites, ed).

For underneath this general façade of normality lies the intricately interesting, real brilliance of Harrington Street’s hidden gem. On a Monday night, at least, everyone is larger than life, and it's all about that.

Who goes there?
On the surface, a fairly typical crowd. The Pen & Wig is popular on a daily basis with suited types – and wigged barrister types in the past - out for a slurp during lunch and after work hours. Sprinkle in those classic middle aged characters that seem to have devoted themselves to the profession of pub-going all their lives and you’ve pretty much got it.

But post six o’clock on a Monday, for example, it's all change. The crowd becomes a cast of characters. Lunacy frequently abounds, yet they are massively warm and welcoming. And when absolutely everybody is a wisecracker, you know you are in for a good night.

What’s yours?
Nothing fancy. You won’t find anything in the way of real ale in the P&W. There’s plenty of standard tap delights of Fosters (£1.95 a pint), John Smiths (£1.85) and mild (£1.75) , plus Strongbow at £2.35. And that’s before mentioning the fairly standard selection of spirits, bottled beers and wines…

OK so you’ve seen it all a million times before but who cares? You aren't “only here for the beer”, remember.

Guinness (£2.35) seems to go down particularly well with regular folk but no ones judging you and it keeps the toilets flushing at the end of the day.

You betcha. It might be the people who make the Pen & Wig but the people go for the music. Live bands (Liverpool pub stalwart Phil Jones) play into the wee small hours of a weekend but the reverent rag-bag quintet, Scally Wag, who make Monday night the real highlight of the week, and they are nothing to do with Alex Curran either.

Don’t count on getting a table, mind, after 6.30pm, which is when the band goes on. The small square space of the Music Lounge gets very busy and half the punters will be called up to belt out a song themselves in Act II.

From John Lennon to Jim Reeves, Buddy Holly to Bruce Springsteen, Scally Wag – churn out all the tunes, evoking that peculiar Catholic social club vibe where no one talks too much when the band is on but everybody is clearly cock-a-hoop.

As for the rest of the working week, pool is 50p a game, there’s a couple of fruit machines and full Sky coverage if you must. If that’s not enough, rest assured that it will be Monday again soon.

Endlessly fun and friendly and that old-fashioned community feel ensures this pub's survival when many around struggle.

This is the sort of pub where a man buys a pint of lager and with it, tops up his own glass and his wife’s half. Sometimes it’s the little things innit?

The Pen & Wig
11-17 Harrington St
L2 9QA
0151 258 1017

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

70s Uni gradFebruary 8th 2011.

Is the Pen & Wig the place that used to have a ledger in the entrance written in quill pen? Or was that somewhere else?

Three-Pint LuncheonFebruary 8th 2011.

Whatever happened to the 'Why Not'? It was a black-and-white mock tudor place that used to be opposite. Then one day I walked down Harrington Street and it wasn't there and I couldn't work out where it had been.

Before my time it had been a Mecca for poets, apparently.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 16th 2011.

Worked there for from 1984 to 87 Fantastic pub and the staff from the Tax office i think based in Derby sq kept it in business during weekdays.They would be waiting at the door 11am then 5pm and spent nearly all day and night there on Fridays.Friday /Sat were so busy and loud,closed on Sundays. So sad to see it converted to office space.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2011.

The Why Not? was a great name for a pub. Anyone know what the Crocodile is like these days? Used to be a lunchtime office haunt when people were still allowed to go out at dinner time.

saladdazeFebruary 8th 2011.

One used to meet fellow insurance clerks and clerkettes in all the above mentioned after a Chinese meal on Lord Street (what happened to them?) and occasionally post-the Bodega and the wine bar at the back of Old Hall Street. Did wonders for the filing room afternoons.

Phil AthertonFebruary 20th 2013.

Terrible terrible place which is ran and staffed by bullies. Especially the door staff. These people will happily take your money but don't expect any decent service in return. Stay away from this place if you want a good time and don't want any trouble as this place is full of thugs.

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