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FAQ: Which brands would have been on sale in a 1960s pub?

“Which brands would have been available in an ordinary English pub of the 1950s or 1960s, including spirits and wines?” – paraphrased from correspondence

To answer this, let’s pick a year; and let’s make that year 1965 because we’ve got a good reference to hand: James H. Coombs’ Bar Service: careers behind the bar – volume one.

We’ve written about this little volume before. First, there was a post about its advice on beer. Then there was a companion piece with some nuggets on pub life.

The bit we’re going to look at today, though, is arguably the most boring section in which Mr Coombs provides a long list of the types and variety of booze a good pub ought to carry.

Here’s the raw information from those, oof, twelve chapters. We’ve only included items where a brand name was mentioned, plus a couple of example of beers where ‘brewery’s own’ would be the brand.

Bottled beersBrand
Pale ale (light ale)Brewery’s own
Brown aleBrewery’s own
Double DiamondInd Coope
John Courage (JC)Courage
Red BarrelWatney Mann
Ben Truman (Ben)Truman
Barley WineBrewery’s own
IPAWorthington
Colne Spring AleBenskins (Ind Coope)
White Shield (natural beer’)Worthington
Bass (Red Shield – ‘natural beer’)Bass
Green Shield (pasteurised)Worthington
Bass (Blue Triangle – pasteurised)Bass
LagerCarlsberg
LagerTuborg
LagerHolston
LagerLöwenbräu
LagerOranjeboom
LagerHeineken
SKOLInd Coope
Black LabelCarling
GuinnessHarp
Mackeson (milk stout)Mackeson (Whitbread)
Guinness Extra StoutGuinness
Russian StoutBarclay’s (Courage)
Draught beers (cask)Brand
Mild ale (XX)Brewery’s own
BitterBrewery’s own
BassBass
EWorthington
Draught beers (keg)Brand
Red BarrelWatney Mann
Red HandInd Coope
TobyCharrington
FlowersFlowers (Whitbread)
TankardWhitbread
TavernCourage
BassBass
EWorthington
CiderBrand
Apple Vintage WineMerrydown
Babycham (sweet)Showerings
Babycham (dry)Showerings
Baby BubblyGoldwell
Pink LadyGoldwell
Soft drinks and mixersBrand
Coca-ColaCoca-Cola
Pepsi-ColaPepsi
7-Up7-Up
Perrier WaterPerrier
Vichy WaterVarious
Apollinaris (water)Apollinaris
Hunyadi-Janos (water)n/a
Contrexeville (water)Perrier
Evian (water)Evian
Malvern (water)Schweppes
Buxton (water)Buxton Mineral Water Co.
Springwell (water)n/a
WinesBrand
Tio Pepe (sherry)González Byass
Dry Fly (sherry)Imported by Findlater Mackie Todd
Double Century (sherry)Pedro Domecq
Celebration Cream (sherry)Pedro Domecq
Bristol Cream (sherry)Harvey’s
Bristol Milk (sherry)Harvey’s
Bristol Dry (sherry)Harvey’s
Various sherriesWiliams and Humbert
Carlito (sherry)Wiliams and Humbert
Dry Sack (sherry)Wiliams and Humbert
Canasta Cream (sherry)Wiliams and Humbert
Walnut Brown (sherry)Wiliams and Humbert
Various sherriesVarela
PortCroft, Dow, Fonseca, Cockburn, Sandeman, Warre, Rebello Valente, Taylor, etc.
Porto BrancoSandeman’s
ChampagneAyala, Bollinger, Clicquot, Goulet, Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Moet, etc.
Ginger WineStone’s
VermouthMartini
VermouthNoilly Prat
VermouthCinzano
SpiritsBrand
“Straw-tinted” ginBooth’s
Gin (Geneva)Holland’s
GinPlymouth
London Dry GinSquires
London Dry GinCornhill
Fruit cupPimm’s
Caroni RumTate & Lyle
Lemon Hart RumUnited Rum Merchants
Lamb’s Navy RumUnited Rum Merchants
Daiquiri RumUnited Rum Merchants
Ron BacardiBacardi
Various brandiesMartell, Hennessy, Otard, Courvoisier, Remy Martin, etc.
Bitters and aperitifsBrand
BittersAngostura
BittersUnderberg
Fernet-BrancaFratelli Branca
DubonnetDubonnet
Pernod 45Pernod
AmerPicon

Now, clearly, you wouldn’t find all of these in every pub but, per the original query, if you included these brands as dressing for a film set in 1965, they’d probably look appropriate.

So, that’s the boring list. What about other, sexier sources? Advertising from the period, for example…

Stone's Green Ginger Wine
SOURCE: Brewery Manual 1966.
Hi! Heineken.
SOURCE: Brewery Manual 1966.
Varela sherry
SOURCE: Brewery Manual 1966.

…or beer mats…

A selection of beer mats from around the 1960s.
Some beer mats from our collection from the 1960s and 70s.

… or old photos.

The bar of a pub.
The Crown Hotel, Hadleigh, 1965. SOURCE: Hadleigh and Thundersleigh Community Archive.

In the above pic, also from 1965, we can’t make out many brands but we’ve definitely got Watney’s Red Barrel, Double Diamond and something not on Mr Coombs’s list, Tia Maria.

11 replies on “FAQ: Which brands would have been on sale in a 1960s pub?”

Gold Label was widely available in the barley wine category, Pony (little drink with a big kick) and Cherry B stocked with Babycham. Warninks Advocaat was hated for the mess it made in bottle skips and made glasses difficult to clean. I concur with Tia Maria.

Crown Hotel image also on display; Babycham merch, Haig Dimple, Sandersons Port, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce…. there must be a Warning’s Advocat somewhere?!

I’m fascinated that he’d expect the lager fridge to be so well stocked – they’re all familiar brands now (or else they’ve been familiar in the last 30 years!), but in 1965 almost all of them would be European imports.

Probably worth saying that the suggestion is that you should have a lager or two and those are the popular brands rather than that you should have all of them on offer.

As well as Carlsberg Lager I’ve seen Special Brew mentioned more than once as something people used to drink in pubs.

Schweppes Ginger Ale, possibly in both “dry” and “American” varieties?

I would have expected Gordon’s to have been a leading gin brand by the 60s.

Maybe not what you are actually asking for, but as a former tegestologist, with probably every mat in that picture, I have to say am impressed by your tegestological undertakings.

Who is drinking it now? I believe it is supposed to be a”pick me up,” but from experience of trying a very small glass once, it’s not a drink I’d care to sample again.

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