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The Jamaica Wine House, Bank, EC3

St. Michaels Alley
Phone: 02079296972

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

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Bucking Fastard left this review about The Jamaica Wine House

The Jampot is a classic City drinking institution and is very difficult to locate amongst the back alleys.I started my career closeby in the late 70's so was a regular and the building has not really changed since then.Now a Shepherd Neame tied house with a large front bar mainly for vertical drinking,but then followed by a series of rooms with three quarter length dividers,lots of wood panelling and the final section is a pleasing snug .There are drinking shelves in most section and an ornate glass covered ceiling,the place reeks of tradition with a good bar back and long bar serving all the different sections.Downstairs the is a restaurant called Tod's Wine Bar and down here there is a telephone kiosk sadly not operational.
At the bar the three options were SN Spitfire,Masterbrew and Whitstable Pale Ale (very good nick).A quiz night was advertised for the first Tuesday of the month,so the days of strict closure after the 7pm swill are a thing of the past.
There are lots of city types in here but it's worth hunting out and is much more a boozer than the nearby George & Vulture (a chop house) and Simpson's Tavern (restricted access to the small bar when busy).

On 11th January 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2054 recommendations about 2054 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about The Jamaica Wine House

As described below, this place is really one to visit at a quieter time if you can make it, to appreciate the art nouveau sandstone exterior which dates from 1869. The interior too is rather fine as mentioned earlier and there's also Todd's Wine Bar in the basement.
I can't remember what I had as my drinking partner was buying so equally absent was the price though I'll expect it was high.
Certainly one for the curiosity value but is probably best appreciated as part of a local crawl.

Closed at weekends.

On 29th November 2017 - rating: 6
[User has posted 953 recommendations about 939 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about The Jamaica Wine House

Update – August 2015

Pub as described below in my February 2010 visit. Yesterday lunchtime a distinctly moderate Spitfire - £ 4.15p - was the only real ale available amongst a bank of unclipped pumps. I’m afraid to report that service also left something to be desired - four staff members standing round behind the bar chatting to themselves, ignoring customers. Even though the pub was not particularly busy and I was standing right up by the counter, I still had to do my best bookies at the racecourse impression ( i e – wave my arms around ) and call out in order to attract attention. Needless to say, I declined to make a contribution to the prominently positioned large “staff tips” bottle directly in front of me.

This was not an impressive visit at all – I do hope it’s much better all round next time.


Typically traditional City pub in an alleyway off Cornhill, next door to St Michaels Church.

Wood partitions divide the pub up into a number of smaller adjoining areas. There's a larger room at the end with a plasma TV, which was on silent on the early evening of my visit. Here there's a food counter serving sandwiches and soup at lunchtime. There's a restaurant / bar downstairs serving more substantial meals.

Of particular note architecturally is the large lantern over the entrance inscribed with the establishment's name and the ceiling, part of which consists of unusual glass panels. The sandstone exterior of the building is also noteworthy.

A plaque outside the pub tells us that "Here stood the first London Coffee House at the sign of Pasqua Rosees Head 1652". The present pub on this site was acquired by Shepherd Neame in March 2009.

The pub was in the 2009 CAMRA GBG, but it's not in the current edition. My pint of Late Red - £ 3.40p - was slightly cold and lacking in flavour.

In many respects, this pub has a typical City pub feel to it - all brightly polished dark wood and subdued lighting. There's plenty of pubs like this in this neck of the woods and - whilst I'd be happy to pop in again - it doesn't really stand out from the crowd for me

On 26th August 2015 - rating: 5
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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Real Ale Ray left this review about The Jamaica Wine House

Known locally as the Jam Pot, this London Heritage pub was most definitely on my itinerary. Who needs a museum, when there is such history here and if it were still a coffee house today, it would certainly look a lot better than the majority of the chains on the High Street. It was nice to visit the pub when it was quiet to appreciate the well kept interior. My Whitstable Bay was in excellent condition.

On 10th February 2015 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2975 recommendations about 2975 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Jamaica Wine House

Hidden away in a side alley, this historic tavern is located on the site of the oldest coffee house in London. There is plenty of interest in the various wood-panelled seating and standing areas around the bar. Very busy during the post-work rush, with most customers standing outside unless it is raining. About a dozen handpumps can be found in three banks along the counter, usually with a good range of regular and seasonal Shepherd Neame beers available. Normally well worth seeking out, but on my latest visit just Spitfire and the seasonal Spooks (£4.10) were available so marked down as a (hopefully temporary) disappointment.

On 24th October 2014 - rating: 6
[User has posted 6000 recommendations about 6000 pubs]

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john mcgraw left this review about The Jamaica Wine House

A strange looking building from the outside with 3 or 4 wood panelled drinking areas inside. Only Shepherd Neame Master Brew and Spitfire on tap on my visit with the latter being an eye watering £4.10 a pint which I think is a bit too much for such an insipid beer.

On 23rd July 2014 - rating: 4
[User has posted 2043 recommendations about 2024 pubs]

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Roy Collins left this review about Jamaica Wine House

Full range of Shepherd Neame ales available in historic surroundings

On 20th June 2013 - rating: 7
[User has posted 124 recommendations about 121 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about Jamaica Wine House

Located down a narrow alleyway off of Cornhill, this is an interesting, historic building which is supposedly on the site of one of London's oldest coffee houses. The interior is a little unusual, comprising of four inter-linked sections of roughly equal size, divided by dark wood partitioning walls in such a way that you would need to cover pretty much the entire floor plan of the ground floor if you wanted to walk from the left hand section to the right. The ceiling is worth a look as well, with parts of it covered in glass tiles, which creates a rather pleasant effect. Seating is provided in various forms throughout the four sections, with one having mainly high stools and drinking shelves and others given over to more formal table and chair arrangements. The decor was a little limited and the place is overwhelmed a bit by the dark wood of the walls, floor and furniture, but there were a few bits of interesting brewerania above the bar counter that caught the eye.
The pub is now run by Shepherd Neame and there was Spitfire, Bishop's Finger (£3.70) and Master Brew to choose from at the bar. My Bishop's Finger was okay, but despite there being six members of staff behind the bar and no-one else waiting to be served, I still endured a long wait before an admittedly apologetic barman got round to dealing with me. It was surprisingly quiet when I popped in on a Friday evening, although it did fill up a bit just before I left. There is a restaurant downstairs which I didn't explore, so maybe there were more people down there, or maybe the hidden location means that people simply don't know the pub exists.
This was a nice place to stop for a beer and although their ales aren't really to my taste, I can imagine popping back here again for another nose around this interesting, and somewhat out of place, little building.

On 12th September 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2423 recommendations about 2423 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about Jamaica Wine House

This pub, reputed to be London’s oldest surviving coffee house, lies in an alleyway off Cornhill Street, next to St Michaels Church. Taken over by Shepherd Neame in 2009, which seems to have lead to a massive upturn in standards, if older reviews are to be believed. The exterior, made of red sandstone, is quite striking as none of the surrounding buildings are made of the material. The interior is quite a sight, dark mahogany panelling, wooden flooring and some intricate tile work on the ceiling. It’s divided up into four areas by large mahogany partitions and is best described by another review as a “rambling warren of a pub”. The effect of the dark wood is enhanced by the lack of natural light due to its location in a narrow set on lanes adjacent to massive neighbouring tower blocks and a deliberate policy of subdued lighting. Four Shepherd Neame ales are available, spread over seven pumps - (Bishops Finger, Master Brew, Late Red and Spitfire). My Late Red was quite acceptable, though very highly priced at £3.75, which left a somewhat bitter taste. Clientèle are City Suits, and mainly friendly – indeed we were offered a prime table by a departing Suit having just quaffed a liquid lunch. Seating is limited to small wooden tables and pews. There was a TV showing cricket at the rear, whilst a small servery was knocking out sandwiches.

Despite the prices, I enjoyed this place a lot and it’s well-worthwhile making the effort to seek out.

On 8th August 2011 - rating: 8
[User has posted 3969 recommendations about 3957 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about Jamaica Wine House

Secretive but historic pub tucked away down the City alleyways between Cornhill and Lombard Street. This was the site of London’s first Coffee House in 1652 but the original building was a victim of the Great Fire. Its successor stood until the current occupant of the site was built in the late 19th Century. It is a curious sandstone building that seems quite out of place squatted among the surrounding towers and office blocks.

Walking past, it is easy to dismiss as a pub, essentially due to its name, but it is actually a decent enough Shepherd Neame pub (a colleague of mine working in the area had fir many years avoided it on the assumption that it was strictly a wine bar). The deceptively large, bare floored interior is broken into four sections by high mahogany divides with a few pots and pans scattered around. It is quite dim inside and, despite the large arched windows, any natural light is somewhat filtered by being hemmed in by its towering neighbours.

The long bar offers 7 Hand pumps although just the 4 Sheps ales were available on my vist (Bishops Finger, Master Brew, Late Red and Spitfire). As one would expect, it is pricey but probably worth the extra few pennies to soak up the history and atmosphere of the place.

Naturally the place does get packed with City suits but out of peak hours it can be a fine and elegant refuge being limited to Sheps beers does take a point off the rating for me. That said, as one of the City’s more historic and interesting pubs it should certainly be high on the list of City pub tourists and just finding it will probably be enough to build up the required thirst.

On 1st February 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1238 recommendations about 1232 pubs]

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