A pub that doesn’t just serve Guinness, it celebrates Guinness. The Toucan wouldn’t be in any way cool if it weren’t for the fact that Jimi Hendrix used to play here.
When people hear the term ‘theme pub’ they usually – and rightfully – run for the hills. However, The Toucan isn’t tacky. Sure, Guinness paraphernalia covers every surface and is as in your face as possible, but there’s more to this pub than an iconic branded bird.
And so as you might expect, The Toucan is a dark little dive pub kitted out in black from the exterior to the basement bar. However, there’s an inherent edginess to this place that supersedes the cheesy appearance the Guinness marketing would normally generate. This is a pub with a rich history that is entirely unapologetic for its rock 'n' roll choice of theme.
As you might expect, The Toucan is a popular pub. Come Friday at 6pm you can reliably expect it to be heaving, with only room for standing left – not that there is much in the way of seating here, anyway. They show Sky Sports too, which is especially good if you want to watch Ireland in the rugby. The bar staff are typical of your edgy Soho bar – sometimes they are full of smiles and other times they demonstrate dour expressions and sarcasm all round. Jimi Hendrix wouldn’t have put up with that nonsense! It seems to help if you’re not a tourist, though.
Guinness! You can’t come to The Toucan and order anything else – just don’t make a joke about it with the bar staff as they have clearly heard them all a million times before. The Guinness here tastes good and they stock the extra cold version, too. However, a pint of the black stuff is a jaw-dropping £4.40 a pint. Given you can buy Guinness in practically any pub around London, and often for much cheaper – especially outside of central London – that is steep.
The Last Word
The Toucan is what it is. It’s a great example of a dive pub in central London. You have the moody bar staff, the expensive beer and that sense of history you don’t get anywhere else. You’re sure to leave in a Purple Haze.