'Tis the season to be dragged around city centre bars by sozzled work colleagues in novelty Santa hats. The Christmas office pub crawl can be a nightmare, but luckily Newcastle's favourite four-legged bar reviewer The Burglar's Dog (AKA Mark Jones) is on hand to offer up a survival guide. To celebrate the release of the new edition of his bestselling drinking guide, here are his best (and worst) Christmas party pubs in Newcastle upon Tyne:
Akenside Traders: Every single office night out from my work for the last 2,000 years has involved the Akenside. And since I detest every one of my colleagues, it'd be fairly safe to say that the Akenside is not one of my favourite Christmas haunts. I hate this place – I've got nothing but bad memories of terrible nights out amongst imbeciles, and of ricking my ankle on those stupid steps.
Buffalo Joe's: This 'amazing Western fun theme bar', has long been one of the most depressing bars in what the geniuses at the neighbouring councils would like you to call NewcastleGateshead, and its mornings-after the prime instigator of calls to the Samaritans, but it is written in law that every office night out must, inevitably, end here.
Centurion: Central station's lovingly-restored, Grade I Listed, first class passenger lounge has become a room full of neglect and echoes, with tacky lighting effects clashing with the tiling. It's plain the management have got about as much love for this place as they would for a ginger stepchild.
Fluid: Two floors of average wood and brick decor, a reasonable pint, and a healthy cross-section of punters, happy hours for the Christmas party crowd. Nothing out of the ordinary to report. File this one under M for mediocre.
The Goose: I believe that small is beautiful when it comes to pubs. It's a viewpoint that has held me in good stead over the years, and provides a yardstick with which to batter this gargantuan hellhole about the face and neck. I've actually seen people lining up to get in here. Where are these people coming from? Why has there not been a cull?
The Lodge: Loveable cheeky chappie TV presenters Ant & Dec apparently ploughed a quarter of a million quid into the refit and rename of the old Jonny Ringo's, but I'm left thoroughly nonplussed. However, whatever your line of work, your colleagues will inevitably want to drink here on their big night out.
Pacific Bar Cafe: What a terrible, terrible bar this is. Even after all this time, I still fail to see how the fact that it cost £9 million to build can justify serving up rubbish beer at astronomical prices. Bar humbug.
Tiger Tiger: I understand the nature of exclusivity, but I expect to get what I pay for, and it has to be said that, for a so-called luxury bar, Tiger Tiger is absolutely woeful. And the spiteful door policy might scupper your night out before it starts.
Union Rooms: Thanks to the marvellous building in which it is housed, the Union Rooms is the least horrible of Newcastle's Wetherspoon pubs, serving up a reassuringly drab pint of bargain fizz to go with your festive celebrations.
Yates's: If there was any justice in this world, then this would be the finest bar Newcastle has ever seen, housed in a truly remarkable French Renaissance building. Instead it's a Yates's chain bar. And it's an absolute bran tub of dross.
The brand new revised and updated edition of The Burglar's Dog Alternative Guide To Drinking in Newcastle upon Tyne by Mark Jones is available now from all good bookshops, priced £9.99.