One Night with Sailor Jerry on Hotel Street

Imagine yourself in Honolulu, Hawaii. Not on the beach (which would be nice) but on Hotel Street, in the infamous red-light district where tattoo parlours, strip clubs and dingy little bars line the streets.

Not so enticing? Bear with me and I’ll change your mind.

This summer The Well in Clerkenwell has transformed its cosy downstairs bar into a boozy Hawaiian hideaway with the help of neon lights, pin-up posters and plenty of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum. The aquariums with their tropical fish contribute to the illusion to be far far away from London’s busy streets and the leather sofas with cushions with tattoo inspired designs are pretty comfortable and inviting you to say a while.

Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum takes its name from the legendary tattooist Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins who, after leaving the Navy, set up shop on Hotel Street and perfected his profession. I urge you to go on their website and read his story, it is absolutely fascinating. And there is a flash book of tattoo designs too along with their meanings, in case you feel the need to get inked.

But back to The Well and their Hotel Street pop-up.

I am a big fan of spiced rum, so I was looking forward to the specially created cocktails: Hearts and Daggers (Sailor Jerry, Galliano, Cointreau, lime and blackberries) – the vanilla-anise aroma of the Galliano works really well with the rum and the citrus, I really liked this. Drink & Ink (Sailor Jerry, Prosecco, elderflower and blackberry) – I am not a big fan of elderflower, so this was my least favourite. And Nautical Star (Sailor Jerry, cranberry juice, passionfruit and strawberry purée, vanilla and mint) – this is the kind of cocktail I like making at home, where I don’t have every kind of liquor known to mankind. Just rum and loads of different fruit juices and purees with a few extras. This is what my blender was made for.

The Well is a gastro pub with a an experienced and dedicated kitchen team so the food served is outstanding too:  fresh Jersey rock oysters, Paignton crab and sorrel croquettes, honey glazed ‘Londoner’ chipolatas with grain mustard aioli, rib and shin burgers with bacon and smoked cheddar, chilli salt squid with sweet chilli sauce and buckets of fish fingers with tartare sauce.

I could eat the chilli salt squid all day long.

If you live or work in the area, you have no excuse not to visit. The Well is a lovely neighbourhood pub with excellent food and friendly people. If you don’t, there is such a thing as public transport, so no excuses either.

“Sometimes I wonder how I ever got mixed up in all this in the first place.”

Sailor Jerry, 1972


Hotel Street is available for private hire for up to 70 people, but on evenings when it hasn’t been booked it will be open to everybody.

Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 11am – midnight; Friday 11am – 1am, Saturday 10.30am – 1am and Sundays 11am – 11pm

The Well
180 St.John’s Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 4JY

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