London’s Oldest Wine Bar

When I sit in the cellar of Gordon’s Wine Bar I always feel as though I ought to be plotting something. In that cave-like space lit solely by candles something proffers the allure of the surreptitious, and if you’re not brainstorming a revolution it’s easy to be convinced that everybody else there is. (Perhaps that’s really just to do with the fact that with health and safety regulations the way they are these days it’s surprising to see a business operating in such cave-like candle-lit conditions . . . ‘We’re drinking in the darkness? Well . . . we must all be mavericks then!’)

Exceptionally rare in interesting places like these is the positive effect of popularity. People seem to have got over Gordon’s just enough to stop instagram-ing and talking about it while they’re there almost to the extent that you start to believe every high-street in London has a ginnel with an underground wine bar like this. Maybe it does and I just haven’t heard of them yet. If you know about one, do share.

If you’re lucky enough to find a table in the cellar you’ll spot business men in their not-so-natural habitat bent over tables and talking in hushed tones in the darkness, couples in the corner who you’ll assume are having affairs but probably aren’t doing, exhausted socialites and the beautifully mysterious lone-wolves deciding whether or not to kill their brothers (or planning a tax return) as they swirl their Boundary Line Shiraz. If it’s not obvious already I only ever sit talking about what everyone else must be talking about . . . maybe that’s what everybody does and the reason they’re all whispering.

If you don’t feel like leaving your husband but you’d still like a full-bodied red the outdoor seating area is expansive and makes for an equally enjoyable experience. Stretching out along the embankment it’s hard to find another place that feels quite so London. At the right time of night with the right glass of wine it really can break your heart.

Jane Austen is often quoted attacking this City in that, as she says, ‘nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be’, but here I lay Gordon’s on the table to Miss Austen. This is where the Londoners ‘be’.

So if you’re looking for the backdrop of a breakup, proposal or conspiracy . . . Gordon’s Wine Bar, 47 Villiers St.

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