Cider Season 2019: The Coronation Tap

The Coronation Tap: at the bar.

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 thought on “Cider Season 2019: The Coronation Tap”

  1. 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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