If you're the sort of person who's still rowing on the Sunday of HRR - give this section a miss, as by the time you've raced your last race, you'll probably be too exhausted to partake fully in this aspect of the regatta. If, however, you are a spectator / coach or competing member of a low performance club, the liquid side of HRR is probably key to your enjoyment of the event, after all, what is Henley without a glass or two of Pimms?

The rabbit will now endeavour to take you through what to drink and where to drink it..

Alcoholic Beverages
It is possible to buy most sorts of alcohol in the numerous bars up and down the course, but there are three drinks which are integral to the event.

  1. Pimms and Lemonade
    The traditional choice - classic pimms (one part pimms, 3 parts lemonade) drunk in pints - after all, it must be good for you it has vegetables in it. Remember, a healthy diet contains 5 portions of fruit or veg daily, so a minimum of 5 pints of pimms a day is recommended.

  2. Champagne
    aka fizzy pop; champers or champoo, the choice of the discerning rower (but only good quality stuff mind), as the cry of "more poo darling?" echoes across the enclosures. Rabbit's tip - if you're going to spend the day drinking fizzy pop spend it in Remenham as it's twice the cost in Stewards, that or take someone with an extensive corporate expense account!! If drinking in Remenham do not be alarmed at the idea of being offered 'Duck Poo' - as the house champagne (ie cheapish stuff) is call CANARD Duchenne.

  3. Gin and Tonic
    perfect to start you off in the morning and finish you off at night (in some cases literally), those with a discerning palate, will of course head straight for the Bombay Sapphire.

Where To Drink
The cheapest alcohol available, is the free samples given out from the stalls next to Upper Thames. Rabbit can guarantee that either Campari, Archers or some brand of cheap gin, will be passing out samples to those staggering past on the towpath. Not really a very practical way of getting merry (as the portions are very small) but still, rabbit suggests you hop past as many times as you can, grabbing a free sample on every leap.

The other low cost option is, of course, to bring your own, but if you do go for the B.Y.O option, be aware that you will NOT be allowed to bring it into any of the enclosures, so find yourself a bit of grass - make it your own, then sit and wait for everyone you knew many years ago (for about a week) to stop by and help themselves to your strawberries and Pimms, till it's all gone and you're still sober.

At which point you have no option but to head for a bar, or wander the towpath until you spot a picnic including someone YOU once knew many years ago (for about a week), who looks like THEY might be in need of some help with consuming THEIR alcohol.

If you are wearing the right blazer or tie, or like Rabbit, you know A LOT of people in the rowing world, you can see yourself very well through the day in this manner (see section on entertainment- re tight git game). In fact it has been known for some people to carry a variety of ties in their pocket, so they are prepared for the appropriate situation!

As mentioned in the Car park section, the car parks behind Stewards are a good place to look for old acquaintances having drinking parties / BBQs (especially on Saturday evening)

the Redgrave barThe great unwashed masses will of course head for Remenham farmor any of the many bars on the towpath between there and the relative safety of Upper Thames. As a result there is some SERIOUS alcohol abuse that goes on in this area and anyone walking down towards the start late on Saturday afternoon, will see the hedges strewn with plastic glasses and is likely to have to step over several comatose revellers / copulating couples on the way.

The Rabbit prefers to get squiffy in more salubrious surroundings, and for atmosphere and value the Remenham club is hard to beat - with Champagne and Pimms around half the price for an identical bottle / pint in the Stewards' bars.

Rabbit note: The Remenham Club has been accepting Visa cards for a couple of years - so beware, as the rabbit has encountered several people complaining that they've lost their credit card, only to be reunited with it when they turn up at the RC bar the following morning - they then get to experience that wonderful feeling of dread when their next bill comes through the door... (sort of like Christmas gone wrong - ahhh!)

The main problem with Stewards is that all alcohol must be consumed in the designated areas, so it's impossible to watch the rowing and sup - that being said, there are some pretty good places to drink in Stewards, each with its own atmosphere and plenty of entertainment to be gotten from people watching as the day (and level of intoxication) moves on. .

Probably the most well known bar is the Fawley or "falling-over" bar, as it is usually referred to, this is next to the Fawley grandstand and has a small lawn area with tables. A good place to spot members of the Hammersmith Mafia attempting to chat up much younger members of the opposite sex.

The Champagne bar can be found near the main entrance to Stewards (go in and hang a right). A fine place to sit and watch the world go by, especially if you're not the one paying!

The Bridge bar is next to the Bridge lawn, located after the finish line, this overlooks the area where the umpires launches go in and out, there is a much larger grass area to drink in and the atmosphere is usually more relaxed than the Fawley bar. Although the choice of alcohol on sale is more restricted, the bridge bar has sprouted a real ale bar in recent years which can provide a welcome alternative to fizz and Pimms.

crowds drinking at the bridge bar

Committee Lawn Bar - restricted to Stewards of the regatta and their guests - boasts an admirable selection of alcoholic beverages despite the small target audience. A very different atmosphere from the other Stewards bars, especially at the weekend when ample space, short queues and plenty of available tables and chairs are a welcome change from the heaving throngs on the other side of the gate. It's also the only place that you can buy champagne by the glass.

Finally, well past the finish lies the plush surroundings of the Leander club, during the day an older more genteel crowd frequent the Leander club bars, while by night it becomes crammed with those booted out of Stewards at the end of racing. Leander is the ideal place if you want to sit and drink in comfort and reconstruct the racing from the commentary. Leander is some distance from the end of the course, additionally the downstairs bars do not overlook the river so it tends to be busy during lunch and tea-breaks and reminiscent of the Marie Celeste during racing. However, it is THE location for some serious leching of high performance rowing bodies (well, from Saturday onwards - as the HPRB do not bother to turn up before then).

Rabbit Ratings
To summarise your alcohol options please refer to the chart below (all ratings are the personal view of the rabbit, though just how much credence you chose to give to the opinions of a small furry beanie toy, is up to you)

(1 = v bad; 5 = v good)

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