Bar Crawls: Glasgow - The Subcrawl
A truncated version of Glasgow’s infamous subway circuit
The Subcrawl – a circular navigation of pubs nearest the 15 stops of Glasgow’s underground – is an institution not strictly for all. Many stations on the route of the city’s beloved Clockwork Orange, particularly south of the Clyde, emerge in locations heavy on less-than-desirable boozers (read: Rangers pubs). But done in an eight-stop shrunk-down format, it’s a good excuse to get out of your drinking comfort zone and visit a few famous old hostelries by day, before a tour of some of the west end’s best bars after dark.
A Discovery Ticket purchased, Buchanan Street is the logical first stop, and The Horse Shoe (17-19 Drury Street). A lot of this historic, Grade A-listed 19th century establishment’s charm has been worn away under the heavy-handed ownership of Mitchells & Butlers – think plasma screen and live sports overload – but many original fittings remain, including ornate stained glass windows and the horseshoe-shaped bar. At £3 a pint max, the prices – which you’ll find get less the further south you travel – can’t be argued with.
Next up St Enoch’s and The Scotia Bar (112 Stockwell Street), Glasgow’s oldest pub (est. 1792) and one of the saltier taverns on the crawl – the kind of hard-drinking den where you’ll find Tennents Super on tap. A low-ceilinged, care-worn haven for folk musicians and literary types, it’s a place to be experienced even if just the once. Across the Clyde at Bridge Street, another bar not actually as scary as it looks is The Laurieston (58 Bridge Street) a family-run place notable as the setting for scenes in David Mackenzie’s film Young Adam and a cameo in the video for The Fratellis’ ‘Whistle For The Choir’. Popular with gig-goers pre and post show at the nearby Academy, it’s cosmopolitan enough to sell Dutch premium lager in tall frosted glasses from the freezer.
Bomb on a few stops next to Shields Road and The Old Toll (1-3 Paisley Road West. Aim to do this one before nightfall – the walk to and from the station is pretty dodgy). Another throwback to Glasgow long-past (1874), the interior has a striking faded grandeur about it – all original hand-carved elaborate dark wood fittings and huge mirrors – albeit diminished somewhat by gaudy posters advertising a fearsome array of dirt cheap shots (a hint at the kind of carnage you can expect here late on). Skip to Kelvinhall next, and The Lismore (206 Dumbarton Road) for a whisky (they stock over 160 variants, many of them specialities) or a ‘hauf and hauf’ if you dare, an old boy classic of a dram with a half-pint of heavy chaser, on promo for £2.25.
The slightly wilder side of Glasgow walked, get straight to the bourgeois heart of the west end at Hillhead and The Ubiquitous Chip (12 Ashton Lane) an upscale institution that requires no introduction. A stone’s throw from Kelvinbridge you’ll find perhaps Glasgow’s finest pub: The Doublet (74 Park Road) specifically its snug lounge bar upstairs – a living-room sized space with a tiny but excellently-stocked bar, a great jukebox and an always convivial atmosphere.
Finish up at St George’s Cross and The Captain’s Rest (185 Great Western Road) home to the Glasgow music scene hipster set, with a great pre-club feel to it at weekends when DJs spin anything from indie to funk and northern soul until midnight. By which point the Subway will be shut but the city centre is within staggering distance if you’ve got stamina for more.
See detailed maps for all the bars mentioned at list.co.uk/subcrawl