As a York fresher, it is undeniably one of Your most important duties to acquaint yourself with the city’s vibrant pub scene. Forget the pre-reading and unpacking for a moment – instead, rally around your most(seemingly) alcoholic new flatmates and get a bus into town.
Pubs always have been, and always will be, a cornerstone of York. One of the oldest, Ye Olde Starre Inn on Stonegate, dates all the way back to 1644. A small handful even claim to be haunted (would a well-inserted joke about spirits be too cringeworthy here?). If historical buildings or ghosts aren’t really your thing, don’t panic – York’s chain pubs are perfectly fine to wet your whistle at. However, if historical buildings and ghosts are your thing, then I’m pleased to announce that you’re just like me! Congratulations in advance on spending the next three years in crippling, alcohol-induced debt. Realistically, no matter what kind of pub you prefer, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice; according to local folklore, York has a pub for every day of the year! Admittedly less popular and a little pricier than more student-oriented establishments, I’ve come to realise that pubs end up proffering the best nights out. But please don’t assume that it’s all about the alcohol; the memories you make will remain just as valuable whether you’re knocking back water or hard liquor. (The former will almost definitely result in better retention of these memories). I’m incredibly grateful for my first year at York, in that my friends were (almost too) willing to accompany me on my pub journey. Hopefully, this list should set you on the right track to embark upon your very own first-year pub journey.
The Three Tuns, Coppergate
My parents discovered this one before I did, but I like to tell people that it was of my own accord. As soon as I was introduced to The ThreeTuns, I fell in love. Charmingly wonky, as if drunk itself, be careful on your way out –one too many and you’ll be rolling, not walking, down Coppergate. The atmosphere is generally more local than ‘student-y’, but don’t let this put you off; both patrons and staff are generally very welcoming. And, as all quintessentially English pubs should, they do quite good deals on shots.
House of the Trembling Madness, Stonegate
Affectionately nicknamed ‘Trems’ (so far,only by me, but I expect it to catch on soon), this kooky little Stonegate gem will capture your heart as soon as you step through the door. Part-store, part-ale house, there’s something for everyone. (Provided that you enjoy either alcohol or mediaeval architecture; hopefully both.) There are actually two Trems in York –if you’re looking for a busier atmosphere and a larger menu, the one on Lendal might be for you. However, I absolutely adore the intimate, candlelit vibe of the original Trems. It really does feel as though you’ve travelled back in time to the twelfth century, when the upstairs drinking hall was built as part of a Norman home. Additionally, the wine selection is pretty good, and they offer a larger range of craft beers.
The Golden Fleece, Pavement
The self-pro-claimed “most haunted pub in York”, The GoldenFleece certainly offers up its fair share of spirits! (I knew I could get one in somewhere.) All hilarity aside, this pub is almost as lopsided as The Three Tuns, so tread carefully. Once you’ve navigated the incredibly sophisticated and complex maze system (the bar is down a short hallway), rest assured that you’re in for a good night. Live musicians can often be found performing at The Golden Fleece, and you can sit and take in the vibes from the mild (yet atmospheric) discomfort of a wooden bench.
Eagle & Child, High PetergateI
I walked into this pub one Thursday night for two reasons: mostly because it was raining, but also because the sound of jazz was emanating from the doorway. As it turns out, Thursday is jazz night at Eagle & Child – who would’ve guessed? Though it was the pleasant cacophony of the band that drew me in, it was the warm, inviting interior of the pub that convinced me to stay. Like the majority of pubs on this list, Eagle & Child boasts a dark, candlelit atmosphere that feels both comforting and ominous. Upstairs is a sweet little room, one I have yet to visit – otherthan on my way to the toilet. Looks nice though; let me know how it is?
The Fat Badger, High Petergate
A stone’s throw away from Eagle & Child, The Fat Badger boasts a truly excellent beer garden. If you’re walking the stretch of city walls near Bootham Bar and happen to look down, you may glimpse jovial evening-goers enjoying their pints. If you’re in the garden and look up in the right direction, you’ll catch an excellent view of York Minster. Probably unrelated, but some of my most eventful nights out have occured within the confines of The Fat Badger beer garden. Something to take note of is their fine selection; though it be but little, it is fierce. And there you have it; a by-no-means-comprehensive-but-objectively-correct list of pubs to acquaint yourself with over your time in York. For the sake of brevity, I’ve only included my top five pubs, but if none of the above take your fancy, I can assure you that there’ll be at least one that does.