Whisky at this period was literally an unknown beverage in London - possibly because the supply could never have equalled the demand, or more probably because science had not yet evolved the diabolical concoctions that now do duty for the wine of Bonnie Scotland. And so it came to pass that the staple drink at Lane's was brandy and soda. Come in when one chose, there stood battalions of soda with brandy in reserve, and rarely did a wayfarer return at the small hours without calling for a libation from old Peter. Occasionally, after an unusual run, the supply might become exhausted, but no temptation could induce the old janitor to retail what had been reserved on "special order."
'One of the Old Brigade' (Donald Shaw), London in the Sixties, 1908