Alexi Duggins is at Time Out readers’ mercy. You decide what London experience you’d like him to have. This week: a flintlock pistol duel, bringing a whole new meaning to the word ‘shooter’.
‘Raise your weapons!’ yells a voice in the darkness. I’m jostled by a pair of shoulders as a burly opponent flattens himself against my back. ‘Take a pace…’ we begin to stride… ‘Turn!’… we spin to face each other… ‘and… DRINK RESPONSIBLY!’
The gun duel at Leyshon Brothers Bonded Warehouse puts the ‘pissed’ into ‘pistol’. No metal shooters at this Victorian-themed pub full of period characters and entertainments: instead our weapons are made of glass. And the slugs aren’t lead but swigs of booze so strong it could strip paint. Yep, this race to sluice four shots of alcohol down your throat in one go certainly separates the men from the boys. Mainly because you can’t make kiddiwinks gargle vodka.
Not that you’d think it from this duel. My opponent’s a man mountain. Next to him I look like an Airfix model. But I’ve got the edge on him in terms of outfit. This part-pub, part-immersive theatrical experience screens attendees via its website – the location’s secret, you have to apply for an invitation and you need a password to get in – with preference given to people who dress up. So I’ve gone all out for the Victorian gent look, and pretty successful it is too. Well, so long as you discount the fact that earlier in the day, a colleague greeted me with: ‘It’s Alexi, the funky undertaker!’
Sadly, though, it doesn’t aid my drinking. As we tilt our pistols skywards, I manage one shot before liquid stops coming out. Fortunately, I fast realise that the key is holding the pistol above your mouth and pouring it in. Unfortunately, my aim’s so excruciatingly feckless that I turn the shootout into the world’s least sexy wet T-shirt contest. Suffice to say, I do not win.
But it nonetheless leaves me in high spirits. Or, maybe that should be ‘high on spirits’. Despite trailing an alcoholic aroma which, were it a perfume, would be sold under the label of ‘Eau de Sticky House Party Floor’, I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Frankly, I am convinsh… sorry, convinced that I am blending in.
I throw an arm around a stranger during a singalong to ‘Any Old Iron’ and sway like a mum at an Elton John concert. He scarpers. I lurch outside and play a game of darts at a street stall. ‘That’s £1 please, guv,’ says the stall owner.‘Good point!’ I giggle, gesturing hilariously to the tip of the dart. He fails to laugh hysterically. As I prepare to leave, a period bobby accosts me. ‘Can I ask what you’re doing, sir?’ he enquires. ‘You can,’ I titter glibly. ‘In fact, I think you just did!’ I lurch off into the night. You know what? Not only did I fail to win the duel, I think I may also have failed to drink responsibly.
Don’t try and recreate your own flintlock pistol duel at home, instead go to leyshonbrothers.com to find out more and get involved.