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Image by Wesley Tingey


Pub Dec 2018 Jan 20 19 357.jpg
Pub Dec 2018 Jan 20 19 319.jpg

Many people ask about the name.  If anyone has lived in Hong Kong or Southern China, they would realise the connection.  Old China Hands is a rather affectionate term for expats who have spent most of their lives living and working in China.  My parents, grandparents and myself are all Old China Hands - all of us born in China and living there most of our lives.  Londoners will also know that Old China is Cockney rhyming slang as in old china (plate) for mate.  It ties my previous life in Asia to my present life in London which is now home.

We are not the coolest pub.  In fact we're probably the uncoolest, if there is such a word, resisting social media and sticking to old pub songs at a low volume.  We buy everything from small independent or family owned businesses in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  

Since monastic days beer has always been made plentifully on these two islands which help make up the British Isles (geographically, not politically) and gin has always been in the blood of every Englishman.  We now make such good ales and lagers that we are spoiled for choice and we even have British rum, brandy, sambuca, limoncello and others.  English and Welsh wines have come into their own at last and all of ours are available by the glass.  We offer tasters willingly so please don't be afraid to ask to try different ones.   You can't get that anywhere else in the UK!  How fun it is for me to be able to visit the breweries and vineyards and to meet the brewers and the winemakers.

I've never owned a pub before so it was a bit of an eye opener in the beginning.  Clerkenwell wasn't the most salubrious of areas back in 2005 when I bought the pub.  But I remember walking around and then seeing Moro in Exmouth Market and I thought they can't be wrong so I took a chance.  It was a chance which has paid off.

I think I've got the best customers in the world (don't we all though?) and rarely do we ever have a problem.  It makes my life and my staff's lives much easier and I hope this will never change.

Rowena Smith

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