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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.