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Tell us five things about... the legendary Phoenix bar

Tell us five things about... the legendary Phoenix bar

As anyone who has ever sought a pub recommendation in Dundee will know, the Phoenix bar is usually the first response.

With its brass fittings, stained glass window booths, mosaic walls and antique bar cabinets, it's a throwback to several golden eras of pub culture.

Think Cheers with a Scottish accent and a flourish of bohemia.

shamoney shambles
eric robb niven

Many people have whiled away whole nights supping the local craft ale of the week and pondering the quirky features of the Phoenix, wondering just how and why it fares so well against the dozen or so slick city bars that join it on the trendy Perth Road.

But few will have nailed the formula.

Even Paul Mills, 40, who's been the Phoenix's friendly assistant manager for the past seven years isn't quite sure.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

"I don't why it works," he said.

"But it just does. We're busy every night and folk just really love it in here. We get the Cheers reference quite a lot. We have a lot of regulars so it's very familiar place for people.

"We serve food until 7pm but generally it's too busy to serve after that. If a rowdy crowd come in we're quite straight up and just say 'no, not for you' and they tend to respect that.

"I guess we know what the customers like. And they know what they like to. The regulars aren't shy to tell you if you're doing something they don't like.

"You hear all sorts of life tales in here but it's a very friendly and open atmosphere. You can come in and join in with the banter round the bar or you can sit and read a book on your own.

"It's one of those unique places where you just feel comfortable straight away."

The numerous awards testify to that.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

So, while many people may already be big fans of this Dundee institution, here's five things we bet you didn't know about the Phoenix.

The Phoenix has been open for nearly 160 years.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

It is one of the oldest pubs in Dundee, having been established in 1856. It is believed that the only pub in Dundee older than the Phoenix is The Pillars. Although, there is definitely some ambiguity there as The Pillars is noted to have been established in 1864, eight years later than the Phoenix.

The Phoenix used to be called The Town and Gown

While the popular bar was initially opened as Phoenix and the monkier remained unchanged for more than 100 years, Paul confirmed that there was a spell in the 1980s when the name was changed to Towns and Gowns to reflect the large legal profession from the nearby courthouse.

The new name didn't last though and when current proprietor Alan Bannerman bought the pub more than 30 years ago, he changed it back.

Alan's daughter Lucy is a journalist at The Times newspaper in London and wrote this lovely piece about her relationship with her father from the other side of the Phoenix bar (note, you will need a subscription to read the full article but the pic alone is worth a click).

The resident bull is named 'Lavandero'

  (STV)
via STV via STV

According to Paul, the story goes that landlord Alan was watching a bull fight in Spain around 20 years ago. He watched Lavandero's final moments at the hands of the matadors and decided that the beast should have his final resting place in Dundee.

The Phoenix is the only bar in Dundee to serve the famous Leffe beer on tap

In the name of professional research, I can confirm that thorough investigations have been done on this matter. While the Trades bar does on occasion serve Leffe draught, it is not a regular feature, as it is in the Phoenix.

The bar also serves a varied collection of local and European ales.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

One of the most eclectic collections of art in Dundee can be found in the Phoenix

  (STV)
via STV via STV

And then there's the stunning stain glass windows, which ensure the dim, shadowy bar is filled with a rainbow of warm colour when the sun shines.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

So if reading all that has given you a bit of a thirst, you know where to go.

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