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Wednesday 18 January 2012

Shop in the Spotlight: Berry Bros & Rudd

I've been a fan of Berry Bros & Rudd for a while now. It's a London institution (with a massive online shop for those of you not living in the city) and one of the prettiest shops you'll find. It's also Britain's oldest wine merchant and is steeped in exciting history.

There used to be an underground passage to St. James Palace over the road, and gentleman would sneak down here to get to Soho's less reputable establishments without being spotted. Then on the way back from their 'dalliances' they could pick up a decent bottle of wine.

The name Berry Bros & Rudd is known all over the world and I think their reputation has made them a little inaccessible to most. I didn't think I could afford any of their wine but despite them having bottles worth over £20,000, their house red is eight quid a pop. Mighty fine wine it is too. If you're used to buying your wine in Asda (I am indeed) then it's understandable that Berry Bros might feel out of your price range, but some of it is what I'd call 'shit day at the office' prices and some even 'woohoo today was amazing' prices. You can also pick up bargain stock at their Basingstoke headquarters.

I've already told you about the King's Ginger, a liqueur that I'm so fond of I put it in hot chocolate and over my ice cream. Berry Bros don't just do wine. They've got their own range of spirits and again, they're not too pricey. You're not going to find a bottle of Smirnoff here but you will find something special. Of course there are bottles that cost hundreds but whatever price the bottle, Berry Bros only sell drinks that they know are the very best they can be. They're proud of that and you really can't argue with that attention to detail.

The small shop has certainly changed since 1698 when it used to be a coffee house. They used to weigh their customers on the giant coffee scales! (You're allowed to play if you're very careful.)

And they've still got the scales book recording the weights of their wealthiest customers. The whole shop  feels like it's part of an olde worlde London(e) and it's frankly a joy to nose about in. Don't forget to pick up a bottle of their house red while you're there.

Berry Bros & Rudd is at the bottom of St James Street in London. Exactly where it's been for the last 300 years. All photos via Berry Bros' Flickr. There's more, go see.

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