Interview with The Frog and Parrot’s Nick Simmonite
At 94 Division Street, a traditional boozer has been a Sheffield feature for well over 300 years now. It once housing the world’s strongest beer, and was the place where soul legend Joe Cocker signed his first record deal. Steeped in a wealth of local history, The Frog and Parrot is nothing short of a city institution and continues to provide a haven for locals and students alike to get their kicks.
We spoke to manager Nick Simmonite about the importance of providing safe, inclusive venues in Sheffield, the return of a particularly special brew and got to the bottom of a few of the venue’s local legends while we were at it.
In one guise or another, The Frog’s been a constant fixture on the Sheffield pub scene. What do you think the secret is to its popularity?
We’ve always been a safe place and pride ourselves on that. The Frog has a good reputation for looking after its guests. We’re proud to be part of the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme, which means we can help any visitors who feel unsafe or violated. We also work very closely with the LGBTQ+ community, Melanin Fest and various other communities – we probably have one of the most eclectic crowds you’ll see and I think people appreciate that. Someone once posted a TripAdvisor review saying: “If you act like a twat in the Frog, you’ll get treated like one” – and I think that sums it up nicely.
Talk to us about the food and drink, something which has proved to be particularly popular amongst students during the day.
Drinks-wise, we have the usual varied mix of craft beers and ales. Dead Parrot is our de facto brewery and we’re currently selling its popular Kato Nwar stout and Jarvis blonde ale. We’re the House of 100 Gins, the best selection in town, and our staff are really passionate about serving those – especially the selection of Japanese gins we have in. The food is well-priced, humble traditional pub fare. We can cater for specific dietary requirements, have a five-star health rating and offer great vegan and vegetarian options, which, crucially, are prepared in their own separate workstations. I must say, we sell a vast amount of burgers and a phenomenal amount of fish and chips!
We’ve heard a whisper that a certain famous beer might be returning…
Yes! We’re currently working with Dead Parrot Brewery at doing a full brew of Roger and Out, which for those who don’t know was the world’s strongest beer when we served it back in the day and a real local legend. We’ll be making sure we get the brew right and then we’ll release it back to the city. Hopefully we can have it finished by Christmas time.
Huge news! Sticking with local legends, a huge number of famous Sheffield names have either played here or passed through the doors at some point. Is it right that you lot discovered the Arctic Monkeys?
Yeah, discovered them drinking underage! No, they’d regularly come in at 17-years-old for a few pints with some food, which means it was all entirely legal. Turn over the back of their debut album and you’ll see a picture of Chris McClure stumbling out of The Frog & Parrot after a few drinks at our secret upstairs bar The Parrot’s Beak – another place that gets a namecheck from the band in the ‘Cornerstone’ track.
But Joe Cocker was definitely discovered here, not to mention the number of musicians that you’ve had working behind the bar.
He signed his first record deal here, and you’ll see a nod or two to him hung on the wall. But yeah, music has always been a huge part of our identity – from regularly hosting Catfish and the Bottlemen for drinks and gigs to having artists from bands such as Wet Nuns and Alvarez Kings working behind the bar, it’s what we’re about. DJ-wise, we have the likes of Hope Works owner and No Bounds curator Liam O’Shea in residency, rock ‘n’ roll from Jim McGuinn – who also has a Glastonbury residency – plus the godfather of northern soul Stev Stevlor. We’ve had a few standout punters over the years, whether that’s Jon McClure bringing in Pete Doherty in for a few drinks, or Steve Lamacq taking an elbow to the face during a Tramlines moshpit – it’s just a normal occurrence at The Frog!