The Duke of Wellington

A landmark of Beirut hospitality.

The Duke of Wellington is what you might call and old school bar. Push in the side glass door and enter an era of lore, or what British friends have referred to as a village pub on the highway curb. This mahogany and red leather couched venue truly lives up to the regal of its name, with, beer flutes, regalia, seals, swords and even some haggard stag heads lining the wall. The ware yellow dim gives its age away though it attempts to stay young by playing Fashion TV (or a footy game if relevant) on the wide screen and an eclectic mix of 80s and 90s obscure pop.

Located in the famous Mayflower Hotel, a historical Beirut venue known to have refuged a number of important peoples during its long life in the heart of the city (um, like Graham Green back in the 60s), The Duke of Wellington has, for over 50 years now, been the preferred watering hole for Beirut expats, journalists (during and even after the infamous Civil War), university professors and Beirut intellectuals (I believe I once say Elias Khoury enjoying a pint).

On the infamous Friday Happy Hour, the geriatric of Beirut is made visible, as these older icons congregate to enjoy and reminisce in a familiar and comfortable atmosphere. The energy and liveliness of youth is very welcome and even applauded. Let’s just say that if your under 45, you won’t make an unnoticed appearance on a Friday night. Sit back enjoy a pint of draft Almaza (a rarity in Beirut these days), a special (and I mean special) 5,000L.L. shaken margarita, or a 14,000L.L. bottle of wine and absorb the history while rubbing elbows with the people that preserve a memory of this special city. On Fridays, you will also be fed as bowls of popcorn and small mouajanat (finger foods comprised of small pizzas and pigs-in-blankets) make their way around. By far one of the cheapest and honestly best Happy Hours in the city, the food is what distinguishes Friday’s good time from Wednesday’s and Saturday’s (all from 7–9PM).

But one thing is certainly consistent, the kindness and generosity of the staff (I really cannot stress this enough). The Duke of Wellington easily has the nicest, most generous and hospitable bar tender and waiters to be found in Beirut entire. Their welcoming and acknowledging smiles are enough to make you want to return time and time again. They are there because they want to be. In fact, one of the weekly waiters actually has a full-time job but will not stop bussing at The Duke because he can’t let go of the chunk of history and motley crew of people he encounters.

And I have to admit, I completely understand. It is difficult not to want to keep coming back for more.



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