London’s best pub quizzes

    11 March 2019

    It’s tough. Encapsulating the allure of a pub quiz to a quiz virgin is no mean feat. Yes, it has the buzz of a friend’s birthday drinks. But it is more social. It has the high drama of a couple’s argument during dinner party Trivial Pursuit. But team responsibility makes it richer. It has the tension of the school examination hall. But it’s more light-hearted. It beats shouting at University Challenge in your underpants at home and – with pub quiz prizes often worth a few hundred pounds – it counts for more. Knowledge – the more pointless the better – really is power.

    Coat & Badge – Lacy Rd, Putney, SW15. Sundays, 8pm

    Being a stone’s throw from the start of The Boat Race means there are no prizes for guessing the rationale for the pub’s name. However, the rowing blades, lacrosse sticks and vintage tennis rackets adorning the walls create the perfect competitive atmosphere for the weekly quiz. A good wine selection will loosen the little grey cells for the quiz. And – should arguments about, say, what animal Florence Nightingale had as a pet (an owl) or which country has the largest coastline (Canada. By a long way) get too heated – you can step into the beautiful beer garden to cool off for a bit.

    Gipsy Hill Taproom: West Norwood, Hamilton Road, SE27 – Thursdays, 7.30pm

    Part of a brewery that has grown rapidly over just four years, the Gipsy Hill Taproom offers a quiz with an extra element for beer lovers. Showcasing Gipsy Hill beers and guest beers from what is regarded as country-leading “cellaring technology”, the Taproom enables quizzers to slake their thirst for trivia and amber nectar perfectly. The industrial decor and teams being surrounded by brewing equipment means the atmosphere is one of immense activity. Quizzers often find a pint or two is perfect mental preparation for a quiz. Given the beer quality here, though, one does, however, have to be wary of… over-preparation.

    Perseverance – Lambs Conduit St, Bloomsbury, WC1N. Mondays, 7pm

    The quiz crowd drawn to this gem, nestled in the heart of Bloomsbury, ranges from medics from Great Ormond St around the corner to culture-hungry tourists and from local students to employees of the surrounding offices. Despite the pub’s large size, the fireplace and the bench lining the perimeter of the main bar makes for a cosy feel and the pre-quiz chit-chat dances off the ornate green and gold ceiling, giving the place a real buzz. A wide selection of craft beers and lagers, combined with a food menu designed with sharing in mind, make this a pub where taste buds and brain cells are satisfied.

    The Drapers Arms – High Street, Ealing, W5. Tuesdays, 8pm

    Originally a clothing factory, the light and airy atrium of this comfy pub is the ideal space for the quiz multitudes which the pub hosts from week to week. The mix of furniture and village location – a short stroll from Ealing Common – gives the venue the feel of an enticing coaching inn from yesteryear but hearty pub fare and a well curated cocktail menu ensure modernity prevails in the kitchen and at the bar. Quizzes tend to be busy and themed quizzes, on the first Thursday of every month, test purists on a subject such as Doctor Who,  Harry Potter or James Bond.

    The Duchy Arms – Sancroft St, Kennington, SE11. Wednesdays, 8pm

    An enormous portrait of Edward VII oversees proceedings at this high-energy quiz just south of the river, where the doubling of quiz attendance in a year speaks to the burgeoning quiz scene in the capital. As well as an exceptional gin & tonic menu, the food is superb, not least the offer of a top-rate ‘burger/pizza & pint for £10’. With a bar tab for the winners, a bottle of wine for second-to-last, and a separate cash jackpot as well, the prizes are hotly contested. However, the host (yours truly) challenging the whole pub to a game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ – the victor winning a free drink – is a local weekly favourite and ensures nothing is taken too seriously.