bristol pubs

Cider Season 2019: The Coronation Tap

The Coronation Tap in Clifton is something special: it calls itself a ciderhouse rather than a pub and is famous for Exhibition, its 8.4% house cider.

Also called the Cori or the Cori Tap, it’s best known as a student hangout and every time we’ve been, we’ve felt like decrepit intruders. A 24-year-old acquaintance told us recently that they used to go all the time but felt they’d outgrown it.

Which is odd, in some ways, because it’s so… brown. Dark and old-fashioned. The place it most reminds us of is The Old Ale House in Truro and it’s supposedly been trading since at least the early 19th century.

And when you hear that young people like cider, you picture something fizzy or fruit-flavoured, not halves of fairly flat, faintly funky, scrumpyish stuff.

Oh, yes: Exhibition is not served in pints. That’s why on a recent visit we saw a young Scot stop another drinker in their tracks. With a look of sheer panic on his face he asked, “Why is everybody here drinking halves!?”

Outside the Coronation Tap.

What savvy students do, of course, having shuffled their way through the wall to the bar, is order two halves at a time, buying a round in which the other party is themselves.

We’re only a few weeks into paying cider the slightest bit of attention but we reckon we get Exhibition: it’s strong but one-dimensional, all sweetness, with the kind of apple flavour you get in pasteurised supermarket apple juice. Which is not to say it’s bad – it’s easy to knock back, offers a sugar rush to counteract the booze downer, and doesn’t demand a lot of attention.

Perfect, in other words, for teenagers trying to get loaded on a big night out.

The Cori definitely has an air of naughtiness as if chaos is only ever a moment away. Waves of shouted song break out. People stumble. Drinks spill. Lanky lads, only months out of their school blazers, stalk about in groups of seven or eight, both nervous and excited. There is frequent, loud, wild laughter.

“When I lived nearby in about 1979,” someone in The Drapers told us, “it was famous for its lock-ins. The landlord would leave the upstairs toilet light on so locals would know to knock on the door.”

It still feels like the kind of place where that might happen.

One reply on “Cider Season 2019: The Coronation Tap”

I remember the Tap with great affection. I was a student in Bristol in the mid 60s and spent a lot of my first year there. I was in digs in Redland and the landlord was a regular at the Tap and was very happy to take his four female students there most weekends. I used to drink Taunton dry, sometimes mixed, served from casks on stillage at the back. One and fourpence a pint. Those were the pre decimalisation days of course. I did occasionally have the EIPA and I seemed to remember Worthington IPA or something like that being popular. Not many students went there then, the regulars were more like artists trying to scratch a living, or mechanics from the local garage or long term residents of Bristol like my landlord who just liked the conviviality of pubs. I also remember the guv’nor, name of Bradshaw if I remember rightly. A man of character and girth to match, but not quite as large as the guv’nor in the Albion up the road. Of course these days, both pubs like so many others have been drastically altered, enlarged and major on food. Happy memories.

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