While cleaning out the files, photos, flotsam and jetsam that lurk in the depths of every personal computer you can either just click and store or actually try opening up the ancient files that need “Compatibility Mode” to be read.
Over the last few days I have been whiling away many hours revisiting the world of BeerBasics.com 2000-2010. What did I find? I found a rather interesting publication that asked important questions of important people.
For example, Beer Basics.com Vol.05 No.08 --- 4 March 2004, featured the results of a question posted in an earlier newsletter. The question was… “What is the oldest bar, tavern or pub you have ever been in?”
My observation was made while visiting McSorley’s Ale House in New York City.
Today my memory calls to mind a visit to a bistro in Paris back in 1984… The beer was fresh and the ham and cheese tasty. The place opened for business before the North American Colonies began making political history.
I wish I could remember the name of the place…
However, here is what was posted in Beer Basics.com Vol.05 No.08 --- 4 March 2004.
How about it?
Care to share with us?
After ten years I’ll ask again…
“What is the oldest bar, tavern or pub you have ever been in?”
Answers will be posted next week…
QUESTION OF THE WEEK FOLLOW-UP: TIME
While sipping a beer at McSorley’s, I scanned the items on the walls. One photo was of ancient veterans pictured with young soldiers who had just returned from World War 1. Those old gentlemen had seen action in the War Between the States. Moreover, they were just two generations away from the Rebellion against King George. As I sipped that beer, in a tavern that had been visited by Abraham Lincoln, I wondered if there was any other tavern in North America that could claim such a history.
In that context, I pose the following question to all…
Where is the oldest North American bar, pub, tavern or restaurant where you have enjoyed a beer?
Oldest bar I was in was in St. Augustine, Florida, supposedly there from the 1700s. I can't remember the name, but it was an old black ominous looking building, so of course I had to go in. It sure smelled old.
It would have to be MCGILLIN'S OLD ALE HOUSE, continuously operated in Philadelphia since 1860, and a dramatic and thoroughly enjoyable step back in time, with 22 very nice taps of beer, including most Philadelphia -area micros like Victory, Yards, Flying Fish, Stoudt's, Lancaster and others. The biggest surprise, however, is the very high quality of the food served there, from simple sandwiches to more elaborate seafood and pasta specials. It is the historic highlight of my annual Golden Age of Beer in Philadelphia Tours each Spring.
The ladies will be happy to know that McSorley's (or McSourly's as many of us called it due to the smell of spilled beer and the tuna fish sandwiches) does have a sperate ladies room. However, the old tiled urinals in the mens room are a work of art. on in and take a peek.
That's an amazing run by McSorley's, wonderful.
My oldest US bar would have to be the late Sam's Land Tavern in Golden, Colorado, built in 1873.
Allegedly Adolph Coors' first account, it was a funky, rustic, neighborhood joint in what used to be the "Goosetown," German-speaking section of Golden.
The joint was located among what became Coors parking lots, and it fell out of favor with most locals, and Coors. The owners sold it, Coors bought it and demolished it for additional parking spaces. (So much for history.)
A brewing, forward-thinking, history-appreciating fellow who would go on to be mayor of our fine city (John Hickenlooper) bought the joint's bar. It now resides in the honorably named Goosetown Tavern, in Denver.
I don't know if this is the oldest pub, but it's an interesting story: There is still a Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Mass. It currently has an inn, restaurant, pub and small chapel. The establishment was immortalized by Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863). This poem gave American literature the story of Paul Revere's Ride, the beginning of which many of us can recite. It also gave American history, of course, one of its great icons. Even in this Civil War-era poem, the inn is described as quite old:
"As ancient is this hostelry
As any in the land may be..."
I believe it had been in operation since the early 1700s and was known as Howe's Tavern, or something substantially similar. Longfellow visited just before writing the poem and apparently drew inspiration from the inn. I believe, but I'm not sure, that it may have closed for a short while in the late 1800s. When it reopened it attempted, of course, to capitalize on the publicity generated by the poem and was renamed the Wayside Inn. I haven't been there in maybe seven or eight years, but they always had a few good beers on the list.
Sudbury was a substantial village dating all the way back to King Philip's War (1670s) and a major artery connecting Boston to New York or points west passed through it. With that said, it is likely that there have been roadside inns there for quite some time.
One other point: There is a bar in Boston, The Bell in Hand, that claims to be the oldest in the country, founded in the 1790s or so. I've never investigated this, namely because they have lousy beer and I've never written about it. Also in Boston, the Green Dragon was a gathering spot for the Sons of Liberty during the Revolution. However, the current Green Dragon -- which is quite an attractive pub -- is in a different location and did not open until the late 1980s/early 1990s. Inside the pub is a list of all the Green Dragon proprietors dating back to the 1700s, so people assume it is one and the same.
Kerry J. Byrne,
The Boston Herald