Fully Cocked: 10 British ‘Cock’ Pubs & Taverns

[ By Steve in Design & Graphics & Branding. ]

Call it a Cock & Bull story but a disproportionate number of British pubs, bars and taverns have ‘cock’ in their name. What’s up with that?

Ye Olde Cock

While we’re on the topic, why don’t these outwardly manly establishments have any femininely-titled counterparts, as in “hen”… what did you think we meant? Anyway, the real reason England boasts so many “cock” pubs has nothing to do with salaciousness, Beavis- er, faithful reader, but for now feel free to feast your eyes upon one of the better known examples: Ye Olde Cock Tavern, on Fleet Street in central London.

It’s uncertain whether the famed 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys really “drank a cup of Cock ale” at Ye Olde Cock Tavern, though he was known to frequent a number of watering holes in and around Fleet Street. Modern-day publicans should have no hesitation when it comes to getting their Pepys on, however, because what happens at Ye Olde Cock Tavern STAYS at Ye Olde Cock Tavern. Credit photographers quite peculiar, David, and nikoretro for posting the images above at their respective Flickr accounts.

The Famous Cock

Note, if you will, that Pepys wasn’t just enamored of any type of ale. No indeed! The er, barley literate wordsmith expressed a specific hankering for “Cock ale”… not that there’s anything wrong with that. He wasn’t the only Brit-brew-bro to feel that way, either, although with the passage of time the cocks have fled from the beer barrels to the pub signs. Ponder on that if you will, while you ogle Flickr member Ewan Munro‘s shot of The Famous Cock (formerly The Cock, and before that The Old Cock Tavern) near Highbury & Islington station in north London.

Cock O’ The North

So, just what WAS this bewitchingly “cocky” beverage that had the perspicacious Pepys, pen in hand, popping into pub after pub? According to Hannah Woolley, who wrote “The Accomplish’d lady’s delight in preserving, physick, beautifying, and cookery” in 1670, the standard recipe for Cock Ale called for infusing a boiled cock in eight gallons of ale along with raisins, nutmeg, dates, mace, and fortified wine for about a week. And by “cock”, she means “rooster”… that’s almost a relief! Flickr member crabchick brings us this September 2000 image of Cock O’ The North (since renamed the Westbury Park Tavern) from the very cocky city of Bristol.

Cock & Crown

One might say Cock Ale was chicken soup for the drunkard’s soul, and you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Sure, pickling a whole chicken in spiced beer may be weird (not to mention being a gross violation of the German Beer Purity Law of 1516) but the restorative qualities of such con-cock-tions were rather well known by the late 1600s. Flickr member Tim Green snapped the Cock & Crown tavern in Crofton, West Yorkshire, late in 2014.

The Fighting Cocks

Them’s fightin’ words… or fighting cocks, which strikes us as being illegal, unpleasant, and a lyric from ELP’s Karn Evil 9. In any case, a pint of cock ale would really hit the spot iffen you was a’fixin’ to do some fightin’. A case of cock ale, on the other hand, might have you fightin’ to get up off the floor. Seems like a textbook example of the Fight or Flight reflex in action, and the action’s happening at The Fighting Cocks pub in Moseley, Birmingham. Snapped by Flickr member Elliott Brown in December of 2009, this Grade II Listed building dates from the dawn of the 20th century and boasts its own integral cock tower. Make that CLOCK tower, dangnabbit!

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[ By Steve in Design & Graphics & Branding. ]

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