This is an edited version of the full article which was published in the July/August 2023 issue of IQ, the exclusive magazine for British Mensa members.
If you’re bored of evenings out and pub lunches at the same old spots, this list should provide new inspiration. From tiny spaces to literal drinking holes, here are four of Britain’s most unusual pubs.
Measuring just 15ft by 7ft, The Nutshell is Britain’s smallest pub, as confirmed in the Guinness Book of Records. The Nutshell served its first pint in 1867 but now attracts visitors from all over the world, who come to enjoy the pub’s speciality ales as well as its historical items and memorabilia. It’s the perfect cosy place for a quiet pint – if you can get in! The pub houses just 10 to 15 visitors at one time.
Edinburgh isn’t short of great bars, but The Canny Man’s in the south of the city has to be one of the strangest. Established by James Kerr in 1871, it is known for its quirky and never-changing decor, housing all manner of trinkets, antiques and bizarre remnants left behind by punters over the years. Still a family-run establishment, The Canny Man’s unusual attitude to customer service – from strict rules about drink orders and dress code to its plaque outside banning mobile phones and backpackers – has earned the pub legendary status.
Not a hole-in-the-wall but a hole in the ground, the Temple bar is housed inside a Victorian former public toilet and is one of Manchester’s best-kept secrets. Descend the steps from street level and you’ll find yourself inside a dimly lit bar full of charm and atmosphere. With an array of bottled beers from around the world and an excellent vinyl collection, the Temple has been a sanctuary for avid music fans for many years.
If you’re after a non-alcoholic tipple, look no further than Mr. Fitzpatrick’s in Rawtenstall, Lancashire. This quirky bar and cafe preempted the ‘low and no’ trend – it’s been serving alcohol-free beverages since 1899 and is believed to be Britain’s last remaining ‘temperance bar’, which emerged as part of the temperance movements of the 1800s. As alcoholism became widespread in post-industrial Britain, temperance encouraged abstinence from alcohol as a route to moral purity and improving society. Today, Mr Fitzpatrick’s stays true to its roots, serving homemade cordials and herbal concoctions as well as alcohol-free classics, such as root beer, cream soda and dandelion and burdock.