Christopher Hitchens walks into a bar... and other literary pub namesakes

Hitch has been honoured with a Toronto bar in his name

Writers and fictional characters have inspired pub names in the past: there are a dozen Shakespeare taverns from Bristol to Sheffield, three Sherlock Holmes pubs in London,  a Daniel Defoe in Stoke Newington and a Milton’s Head gastropub opposite John Milton’s cottage in Chalfont St Giles. But now a different class of  literary-theme bars has appeared.

Last year, the Hunter S was launched in north-east London, a shrine to Hunter S Thompson, the master of gonzo journalism, author of Hell’s Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. His life was marked by a deranged love of guns, a suicidal ingestion of Class A drugs and a charged prose style that any hack would kill for. The pub can’t commemorate all that, so its walls are festooned with guns, the horned heads of stuffed wildlife and a handful of sketches by Thompson’s frequent illustrator, Ralph Steadman. The lavatory urinals are gaping, lipsticked female mouths, the jukebox plays delta blues and a large selection of rums and Thompson’s favourite bourbon, Wild Turkey, sits behind the bar.

The management team, Seven Eighths, also owns The Hemingway in Victoria Park, Hackney. “As a scholar,  philanderer, seasoned drinker and general exponent of the good life,” they say of the tirelessly self-mythologising and suicidal Ernest, “it seemed a fitting name by which to christen this lovely, grade-two  listed building.”

Dublin has had a James Joyce’s Café Bar for years and a Bloom’s Hotel, named  after the hero of Ulysses. You can find a Dylan Thomas pub in Swansea Enterprise Park – a “family pub restaurant” which seems wrong for a man who died after drinking 18 straight whiskies. (“I believe that’s a record,” he said, shortly before keeling over.)

But what’s this? In the staid Canadian metropolis of Toronto, on the corner of Queen and Leslie, a new bar has opened called Hitch, apparently inspired by Christopher Hitchens, the British-American journalist who died a year ago. He’s thought to be an “inspirational figure” there because he drank like a shoal of mackerel. But locals who’ve written early reviews of the venue also insist he “inspired” the rough country pâté (representative, apparently, of his “anti-Zionist beliefs”) and the lamb snacks (“a throwback to his public criticism of Mother Teresa”). The bar, which features a  selection of works by Hitchens, also  plans to have a big screen showing TED talks and other intellectual pursuits. 

This is ingenious. We look forward to more writer-themed bars in the future: especially the Hilary Mantel (try the Thomas Cromwell mead and the Henry VIII turkey drumsticks) and the Nick Hornby (check out the bar footy, the capacious jukebox and the wryly self-pitying male clientele).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project