47 Villiers Street (at Watergate Walk), Villiers St or side entrance on Watergate Walk, London, WC2N 6NE, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7930 1408
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun noon-10pm
Door: Open door
Style: Wine bar
Price guide: Middling
Food: Plates & dishes
Owned by: Gordon family
Images By: diffordsguide.com
London's oldest wine bar was established by Arthur Gordon in 1890, but the Gordon family who have owned the bar for generations are not actually related - the name mealy a happy coincidence. The late Luis Gordon bought the bar in 1975 after selling the family sherry shipping business. Luis' wife Wendy and eldest son Simon now nurture this family concern.
In the 1680s the building was home to the diarist Samuel Pepys and then in the 1890s Rudyard Kipling. The basement was used as a warehouse by a firm of seed dealers until 1864 when the Thames was embanked, leaving the warehouse landlocked. The gardens next door, where patrons drink on summer evenings, enclose a water gate, the steps of which used to lead directly down to the river.
The wooden walls of the basement room are covered in faded historical newspaper cuttings. Beyond lies an age-encrusted, stoop inducing tunnel-like cellar, illuminated by flickering candles and furnished with rickety, ancient tables. Little has changed here in over a century. There's no music, beer or spirits - just good wine (27 by the glass), sherry, port and atmosphere.