Spurstowe Arms Makes The Best Bloody Mary You’ll Ever Have

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If you find yourself in the east End of London on a weekend with some time to kill and a thirst to quench, we’d recommend making your way to Spurstowe Arms. Close to London Fields this is a mature gastropub with a laid back vibe and does a mean Bloody Mary, unlike any we’ve tried before. They have ales on tap and succulent burgers through the week, though we’re recommending the Bloody Mary over everything else because it takes real skill to make one that a wide spectrum of people love.

The Spurstowe Arms, 68 Greenwood Road, London E8 1AB. Phone: 020 7923 3115


I found myself at a birthday party with a plastic sword and that warm, tingly, unnatural feeling you get just before falling ill. The plastic sword was my idea because we (my husband Michael, who was then a boyfriend, and I) didn’t have a birthday gift, and I had spotted a children’s fair en route to the birthday pub The Spurstowe Arms. Upon closer inspection (read: desperation for a gift) we found that the fair had, aside from violently loud music, a stall with many wondrous toys that you could win if you managed to ensnare them using a noose at the end of a long stick. We had to pay a fiver for three tries – which in itself was a scam – and if we noosed a yellow ducky or a cocaine-eyed plastic dolphin we’d get to keep it.

The first try failed. The second try failed. On the third try, with my heart pounding and my mind kissing an imaginary lucky locket, Michael got the noose around the neck of a stuffed, fluffy duck! We high-fived and I patted him on his back as if we were being filmed by hidden TV crews. We chose to swap the duck for a plastic sword because it was our friends 35th, and nothing says “Happy birthday, buddy” than a sword with stickers on it.

Still feeling fluey in the pub, I decided to have tea and whine. Mike’s suggestion was a Bloody Mary. There were about five other people around, and the bar staff looked straight out of a Dazed & Confused anniversary issue. I can’t remember one thing about the interiors that made the place any different from the hundreds of pubs around a 5-kilometre radius. I got a text from said birthday boy that he was running a bit late and figured if I was going to be sick, I might as well have one last drink before the flu used its chokehold on me. The bartender, who I’m certain moonlighted as a supermodel, poured some vodka into a glass half full of ice, and then picked up a massive jug of pre-made Bloody Mary mix and filled my glass.

We had to pay a fiver for three tries – which in itself was a scam – and if we noosed a yellow ducky or a cocaine-eyed plastic dolphin we’d get to keep it.

I was already disappointed. I’ve had way too many bad Bloody Marys to ever trust a pre-made mix. Unless I can hawk-eye the bar staff while they’re throwing in the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt, pepper, lemon juice (consommé, green chillies, wasabi, Piri Piri sauce…I could go on) I don’t trust what they hand me and have to assume the worst.

There is no way of actually describing a great Bloody Mary. It’s a personal thing. My taste differs from your taste and we’re all slaves to our quirks and kinks. My extra Tabasco sauce might be too little for you and so on, but what I had that day, by God, that was a mean Bloody Mary – possibly the best I’ve ever had in my life. And as the evening progressed I transmogrified into a Bloody Mary pimp, and others around me seemed to agree. Everyone loved the pre-mixed, tomato juice delight and ran back for seconds/thirds/fourths.

The birthday itself was magnificent. Ply people with enough versions of vodka based drinks and everything turns into Christmas. Birthday boy arrived safe and sound, we met new people in the back garden of the pub (which, unlike its generic interiors, had high walls with ivy growing everywhere, beautiful wrought iron chairs and big tables) and in two hours we were trading our not so great table for a better one with the sword that had been bought because of my blood, sweat and tears. The evening ended with several people singing You’ve Got The Love by Florence and The Machine under a slight drizzle while unlocking their bicycles and heading home. In conclusion, all I can say is:
Spurstowe Arms Bloody Mary – 1
Influenza – 0

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