The Royal Oak (in Borough, London) is one of those pubs. With its nicotine-stained drapes, wooden panels, battered furniture, and surly Scottish bartender (if you've been, you know the one I mean), it really does feel like you've entered a time capsule. You're locked in a history of London pubs long since past. I pretty much have to demand to be served while I wait for said bartender to finish his cigarette, his head half out the door as he takes another drag, half-watching the bar he's supposed to be tending. That's all part of the charm, though.
I eventually get a pint of Mild and a pint of Best. Both are brewed by Harvey's of Lewes, Sussex, to the south of London, which also happens to own this pub. As my friend and I draw long, satisfying slurps from our pints, I spy a local in the corner doing the same. His rhythm is near-hypnotic. A page turn of his paper is followed by a deep gulp of his pint is followed by another treat palmed toward his canine companion beneath the table. A few more turns of the cycle later, he's at the bar, ordering another. Then it's time to sit down and start the cycle anew.