Bar Crawls: Glasgow - The Sauchiehall Street Saunter

Bar Crawls: Sauchiehall Street saunter, Glasgow

Black Sparrow

Making the most of Glasgow city centre drinking

Both ‘pub crawl’ and ‘Sauchiehall Street’ can evoke images of large groups of revellers staggering from one ropey watering hole to the next, the night hurtling towards a climax of kebab sauce and lost cloakroom tickets. Well this route aims to redress the balance, an eight-bar ‘saunter’, if you will, that samples establishments with both character and style. Cheers.

We begin as far away from the madness as possible, at the western tip of the street just before it joins Argyle Street. (1) The Butchershop Bar & Grill (1055-1061 Sauchiehall Street) tends more towards the ‘grill’ side of things, but it’s still an excellent starting point. Jazz plays on the stereo, whilst charming men in navy and white stripy aprons whip up cocktails and politely point out that the door you’ve just opened is the women’s’ toilet. Easy mistake, apparently. We move out front with a glass of Moretti to enjoy Butchershop’s terrace and the pleasant view onto the museum and the park. There’s something rather Parisian about it all, apart from the torrential rain that’s threatening to washout our saunter.

Thankfully, (2) Big Slope (36A Kelvingrove Street) is only a few hundred metres away. The sultry barmaid forces a sympathetic smile that says ‘you should have brought a jacket’, and serves up two Tatankas (bison grass vodka and apple juice). Don’t let the bizarre alpine lodge and antlers thing that’s going on with the decor put you off. It’s modern and comfy, with marvellously low lighting and trendy comfort food that make falling asleep a distinct possibility. Unless you’re on a pub crawl, of course, in which case it’s onto (3) McPhabb’s (23 Sandyford Place). Popular with locals and backpackers alike (a couple of hostels are nearby), McPhabb’s nestles in the middle of an otherwise dry stretch of Sauchiehall Street and thus has a strategically vital location. Is it a pub? Is it a bar? Either way, it serves Tennent’s.

Nearing Charing Cross, it’s time for a diversion. Just down to the right is (4) Black Sparrow (241 North Street), a dark, handsome character that sweeps us off our feet with his excellent choice of draught lagers and bourbons in suave, understated surroundings.

Four down, halfway there, cross the Rubicon and all that. Time for a legend: (5) Nice’n’Sleazy (421 Sauchiehall Street). The shambolic and grubby go-to joint for local musicians and hipsters is arguably as popular as ever now that it’s got a 3am licence, and for all the coolness, it’s equally laid-back. They used to have Buckfast behind the bar, but not any more. We settle for white russians.

Next up is (6) Variety (401 Sauchiehall Street), another bohemian affair that remains an old man’s pub by day yet becomes a base for electronica-lovers and art school students at night – with Blue Moon lager on tap. It’s Obama’s favourite, the barman/tattooed rockstar informs us.

(7) The Bier Halle Hippo Lounge (323 Sauchiehall Street), our next stop, these days puts less emphasis on global beers and more on cocktails and ambient beats, but its cold, industrial décor remains spot-on. As the finish line beckons we again deviate slightly onto Sauchiehall Lane, where bright and breezy joint (8) The Universal (57-59 Sauchiehall Lane) appropriately welcomes all sorts – hungry shoppers, boisterous groups and solo drinkers all well served by a particularly large range of vodkas and whiskies (at very fair prices). As it was, we book-ended this particular escapade with another Moretti and discussed the merits of a Bath Street crawl. It’s only one street down …

A The Butchershop Bar & Grill
1055 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G3 7UD
Glasgow steakhouse specialising in dry-aged Scotch beef steaks, fresh seafood and signature cocktails.
B Big Slope
36a Kelvingrove Street, Glasgow, G3 7SA
C McPhabbs
23 Sandyford Place, Glasgow, G3 7NG
D Nice'n'Sleazy
421 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3LG
Atmospheric and distinctive late-night bar offering a great lineup of gigs and club nights, bargain drinks and eclectic food offerings.
E Variety Bar
401 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3LG
A classic Sauchiehall Street drinking den serious about music, which wears the marks of its long life like badges of honour.