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Thread: Gibraltar Pub Reviews - a journey around Gibraltar's pubs and bars

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    In Search of Ebriety Millay's Avatar
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    Default Gibraltar Pub Reviews - a journey around Gibraltar's pubs and bars

    Introduction


    This thread is designed to provide any prospective visitor to Gibraltar with an overview of the pubs and bars on the Rock.

    I will make some general observations regarding the characteristics of the pubs and bars and then provide reviews of the main ones that I visited - which was most of the ones we would consider 'pubs'.

    I intend to split the reviews by geographical area in the hope that that might be more useful. Then I'll do a "Best bars for xxxx" section.

    Please understand that, as with any review on the site, these are purely my own views and may have been formed from a single visit. As we know, one's experience of a pub can differ depending on the time of day, bar staff working, fellow clientele etc.

    Unless otherwise mentioned, all pubs reviewed were visited by me during an August 2012 trip, with many also remembered from visits in Feb and Nov 2002.

    I'll be building the thread up over a few days and, of course, the thread is open for additions or corrections by anyone with further information.
    I've just joined Alcoholics Anonymous - I still drink, just under a different name.

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    Observations and Characteristics (1)

    There are pubs and bars everywhere in the main tourist areas and they will be busy, especially when there is a cruise ship in town. Most will have names that reflect Gibraltar's past or it's Britishness, but that won't necessarily tell you which ones are are the traditional pubs that you might be looking for. But this diversity is part of the exploration of any new destination and you should embrace it. There are also some small interesting bars off of Main Street that tourists tend not to go to and these can be worth a look if you have the time.

    Almost all pubs will serve food and, rather like the UK, some are more gastro than others. Most will have outdoor searting/eating areas. The food is largely based on what you would expect in a UK pub, with perhaps a more Mediterranean offering and more seafood dishes.

    There is no cask ale in Gibraltar, understandably it doesn't travel. Keg beers are typically what you would find in the UK, Strongbow, Guinness, Fosters, Carlsberg and Stella. You'll also find San Miguel in many places. London Pride and Old Speckled Hen on keg are fairly prevalent. Frankly much of the keg beer is not of good quality and you are better off looking for bottles or even cans. St Pauli Girl German bottled lager seemed to be popular and you can also get bottled Stella, Becks and Heineken.

    I would however strongly recommend looking beyond what you first see when walking into a bar, look in the fridges behind the bar and also ask if they have any bottled ales. Many was the time when I would be sitting there with a bland keg offering only to spot a hidden ale lurking in the back of a fridge.

    The most prevalent bottled ale was probably Fullers and this included Pride, Discovery, ESB and their Black Cab Stout. Greene King was also one to look out for with IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Abbot. The 'local' ale is Gibraltar Barbary Beer which uses hops grown locally at Almeda Gardens which are shipped to Bushy's Brewery in the Isle of Mann for brewing. You may see this advertised in pubs witb Union Flag flyers and posters but to be honest they don't seem to push it as much as perhaps they should .
    I've just joined Alcoholics Anonymous - I still drink, just under a different name.

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    Observations and Characteristics (2)

    The UK smoking ban does not yet apply to Gibraltar, although a few pubs are voluntarily non smoking, typically those with large outside seating areas. Some others, particularly those with an emphasis on food, set aside an area where smoking is not allowed.

    Around 50% of the pubs have pool tables and dart boards, although in the whole week I was there I only saw them being used twice. All pubs and bars will have gaming machines and they will all be the same design, the American Poker II machine which gives you a choice of 6 slot and poker games. The latter was generally my game of choice and it was Joker Poker (a single wild Joker) that paid out for two pairs or better. A pair of Jacks or better increases a meter by the value of your bet and pays out randomly when it reaches a certain level. For a 25p bet the jackpot (5 of a kind) is £150, which I was lucky enough to win once. The problem is that they pay out all in coins so, as I was in a small bar with not much cash in the till, I had to carry it around until I could change it up somewhere. I was told that, outside of the casino, this is the only gaming machine licensed in Gibraltar and no doubt the Government takes its share of tax for the priviledge. The bar owner splits any profit with the company who provide the machines at the end of every month. You rarely see one of these machines out of order as there are roving mechanics who respond quickly to any call out.

    I spotted a couple of bookmakers, one in Casemates Square and one off Main St., there may be more. Many of the bookmakers have registered their online activities in Gibraltar. I guess there are tax advantages to this, or maybe they're just here for the climate! The only casino is run by Gala and is located in Ocean Village, having relocated from the Rock Hotel. I was sad to see that the old casino had gone, I have good memories of late nights there, watching some overseas test match on TV and taking in the fantastic views across the Bay. The new casino is on two floors and is almost entirely gaming machines. There are a few Blackjack and Roulette tables upstairs plus a Poker room.


    Free WiFi is available in many pubs although signals can be weak, and even non-existent when you get closer to Europa Point where good old O2 thought I was in Africa. WiFi codes are usually available from staff and they all seemed happy to provide them. There seemed to be a number of general WiFi spots in Ocean Village but I was never able to hook up to any of them.
    I've just joined Alcoholics Anonymous - I still drink, just under a different name.

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    Humble Wordsmith ETA's Avatar
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    Default Lord Nelson

    This British-style pub is located in the busy Casemates centre, occupying a corner of the fortifications. Its vaulted spaces are a good size and make it atmospheric. They do reasonable pub food and have a decent wine collection. Chilled Speckled Hen and Spanish megekeg are on offer, but I went for Magners as the cider seemed the most refreshing option given the outside temperature. The thick stone walls of the fortress keep the interior cool, the staff are pleasant and it isn't too expensive. Worth a visit.

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    Default Picadilly

    A continental-style bar near teh Dockyard and Ragged Staff Gate, one of a pair of pubs on that junction. It's subdued and quiet, a bit scruffy, but they have free wifi and there's always somewhere to sit. Chilled megakeg beers are all that are on offer. Food is sketchy, bu the welcome is reasonable. Happy to use this as an internet cafe but not sure I'd spend an evening here.

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    Default Star Bar

    Claims to be Gibralter's oldest pub. Very much like a traditional British town pub, except the lack of real ale, situated just off Main Street down Parliament Lane. Friendly staff, free-flowing cocktails and a pleasant decor, it's a good place to drop in or meet up in the main shopping street.
    Last edited by ETA; 13-08-2014 at 17:52.

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    Default Wine Vaults

    Primarily a wine bar, it's situated in a pair of old vaulted cellars just off Main street. There are excellent selections of red, rose, white and sparkling wines from Europe and a few from the New World, and the prices range from cheap to very expensive indeed. The decor and furniture are attractive and it's a comfortable place to spend an evening, whihch we did. The staff were excellent, offered us (a group of 11) a huge discount and as two of our number didn't want to drink wine, they were allowed to drink their beer and cocktails for free. This will definitely be my first port of call if I come back to Gib anytime.

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    Hmm. I was planing a visit to the rock and doing them all at some point next year. Maybe if visitors could amalgamate them all we could get them added. A week there should see them all done from my brief research.

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