March 6, 2007

21 Quirky Pub Names

I first became interested in the phenomenon of pubs with names that contain two nouns (e.g., Crown and Anchor) when I visited Oxford a few years ago. Some combinations seemed natural, like Fox and Hounds, while others left me scratching my head (Angel and Greyhound).

There are various explanations for these puzzling names, including the idea that early publicans distinguished their establishments from similarly-named ones by adding a unique second name. Also, as Bill Bryson points out in his 1990 book, The Mother Tongue, some of these compound names could be corruptions of the original names, such as Elephant and Castle (Infanta de Castille), Pig and Whistle (Peg and Wassail), and Dog and Bacon (Dorking Beacon). Whatever the case was in the past, there is a new trend of giving pubs self-consciously quirky names, as with the Slug and Lettuce chain of pubs in Britain.

United Kingdom:

North America:

  • Cat & Fiddle (Los Angeles, CA): According to author Bill Bryson, this popular pub name was originally Caterine la Fidèle. The name for this Hollywood hotspot seems apt, considering many of the staff are musicians.
  • Frog & Nightgown (Coquitlam, BC): As long as it’s not “Frog IN Nightgown.”
  • Frog and Peach (San Luis Obispo, CA): This spot used to be an ice cream store before becoming a pub, but I hope the name wasn’t inspired by former flavors of icy treats.

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