The Variety Bar.401 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. G2 3LG. Tel: 01413324449.
Variety Bar. 1991.
Variety Bar, photograph taken 1991.
Opened in 1970 by Patrick Clancy and known as the Norsk Inn.
In the News 1971...
Kings Arms brings back a good old style.
Over the years the traditional Scottish pub has been slowly disappearing from the Glasgow scene, to be replaced by a variety of bars ranging from palaces of glass and chrome to Bavarian style beer cellars.
And along with the new wall to wall carpets have come various forms of entertainment, so that there's hardly a place left without its guitarist, beat group, or even sometimes full scale cabaret, - Or if live music is lacking, there's taped music, and very often you can have anything from a snack to a full scale meal in your local too.
All this is fine, and generally welcome, but it does mean that there are getting to be fewer and fewer "pure" pubs left for the man who just wants to go for a quiet drink minus the trimmings.
But all is not lost. A new pub in the old style opened in Glasgow last week. A plain and simple pub, no snacks, no meals, no musack, just a warm and cosy place to go for a drop of the cratur or just about anything else you fancy from a pint of draught to a mellow single malt.
Called the King's Arms, it's on the corner of Elmbank Street and Sauchiehall Street, where the old Carswell's used to be. Presiding over it is manager Mr Calum MacKenzie, who's been in the trade for some years since he retired from the police force.
"You might say we're deliberately reversing current trends in favour of going back to traditional Scottish drinking habits," he told me. "Mind you, this doesn't mean you'll find sawdust on the floor." What it does mean is that the King's Arms will cater especially for the discerning drinker. "We're a free house," said Mr MacKenzie, "and in keeping with our policy we have a very wide range of drinks available."
In fact the amenities are quite sophisticated, and it's pleasant to find bowls of nuts and crisps as well as cocktail onions set out on the bar counter of the lounge. This is called the snug, and is in the basement of the premises, with the public bar on the ground floor.
There's a good long bar counter in the public bar, handy for setting your elbows firmly planted on. Draught beer and lager are served in both bars, though restricted to half-pints only in the snug. Altogether it's really quite a small pub, but with a well designed layout and two entrances to each bar.
Variety Bar. 2005.
Variety Bar. 2008.