A love letter to south London

Cara Cummings (23 January, 2021)

Lucy Wilson set up Kanpai, the UK’s first sake brewery, with husband Tom in 2016. The couple create innovative small batch drinks using traditional Japanese techniques at their Peckham taproom and HQ. Brew pioneer Lucy shares her top south of the river tips - including where to find the capital’s crunchiest katsu, and which heritage spot beats them all for curing a hangover...





What made you want to set up your business in south London?

My husband and I have lived in Peckham for the last decade, so it was a natural choice to keep our passion in our own vibrant neighborhood. We couldn’t imagine doing something as mad as setting up the first sake brewery anywhere else! Copeland Park in Peckham is full of creatives and people following their passions, which is endlessly inspiring. You learn so much from bouncing ideas around. We love hosting lots of tastings and collaborating with other small businesses for projects, like ceramicists for sake cups or beer breweries for interesting hybrid brews.

What are your top south London eateries?

Monkatsu in Dulwich for fresh sushi and crunchy katsu or Coal Rooms in Peckham for the ultimate Sunday lunch. Persopolis (Peckham) is an emporium you just want to dive deep into – they have a small selection of tables at the back of the shop with a super interesting Persian menu and you can’t help but leave with a bagful of baklava.

Favourite south London pub?

Is it too biased to say Kanpai’s taproom?! Whichever side of the bar I’m on, I always find interesting people to chat to over some origami and fresh sakes. It’s such a relaxed vibe – exactly what we hoped to recreate from Japanese izakayas (informal Japanese bars).

Where do you shop in south London?

When it comes to clothes, I spend most of my time in very ‘practical’ gear that can get messy! I don’t buy new things often; when I do, I might browse the stores on North Cross Road in Dulwich, or scout the rails of vintage pop ups that come to Copeland Park in Peckham. When it comes to homeware, Myles from Home in Dulwich have curated an amazing shop full of beautiful things you didn’t realise you need! A great mix of vintage and new. My favourite shop, though, has to be Khan’s on Rye Lane – a one stop shop with no frills and bargain prices!

Have any fellow south Londoners been an inspiration in chasing your craft sake dream?

We have to give a big shout out to Hop, Burns & Black. They backed us from the start, when it was still pretty much a homebrew project. They hosted our tastings in their store and were our first local stockist. Their success shows that good quality drink brings a lot of happiness to a lot of people!

How has south London changed since you’ve lived and worked here?

South London is constantly evolving, but not in a complete gentrification-overload way as it’s still laced with its heritage. Yes, there are more flat whites than you can shake a stick at, but you can also go to Manze’s and get your pie and mash on a hangover. (Note: sake doesn’t give bad hangovers, promise!).

How would you describe south London – and south Londoners – in a nutshell?

At Kanpai our neighbours are a church, a gym, a tattoo artist and a Nigerian kitchen. The buildings are covered in stunning graffiti. That cultural mix is South London: that’s our home and that’s what we love.

Finally: what’s the one thing on our side of the river that everyone should try at least once?

For something you wouldn’t expect in deep South London, try out Chislehurst Caves… Who knew there was such a network and history under our feet?




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Related Topics