Wylde For Liquor: Evans & Peel Pharmacy

Feeling out of sorts, ducky? This queer quack will soon have you in the pink again.
Report by Keith Barker-Main
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You’ll find them hidden behind unmarked doors, (The Chelsea Prayer Room) antique bookcases (The Vault); Edwardian off-licence shelves (TT Liquor);  Smeg fridges (The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town); bogus launderettes (The King of Ladies Man) and, Narnia-stylee, beyond a Biedermeir armoire’s mirrored door, comme chez Callooh Callay. Yep! Prohibition era-style speakeasies are a dime-a-dozen in London.

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But, like any fad – cupcakes, Goop, The Kooples’ smug ad campaign, - what may start out as a mildly amusing divertissement can quickly begin to grate. Undoubtedly, one of the capital’s best clandestine booze bunkers is Evans & Peel Detective Agency.

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A front for a Mob moonshine racket in a seedy Earl’s Court basement, entry hangs on how successfully you handle an elaborate Raymond Chandler-esque audition in the gumshoes’ front office. Equally amusing, worth the Uber fare to W4, is owner Chris Peel’s similarly shonky sophomore gig in leafy, respectable Chiswick.

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Gussied up as a dusty old chemist’s shop, Evans & Peel Pharmacy comes on like the sort of iffy enterprise where ‘Acid Bath Murderer’ Charles Haig might have procured the sulphuric acid used to dissolve his victims’ corpses.

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Explain what ails you to the resident deadpan ‘clinician’, convince him you can be trusted to keep shtum about his scam: he’ll take you on as a patient. Potent prescriptions, inscrutable pick-me-ups and arcane, hooch-laced toddies The Opulence of Health, Synapses Stimulator, and Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Daiquiri, not Milk of Magnesia, are his stock-in-trade in decrepit ‘consulting rooms’ that might be deemed 'thoroughly Mod' by 1930s throwback Jacob Rees-Mogg – another initially entertaining novelty that now must be consigned to Room 101.


DAVID NEWTON