Here at Ye Olde Tavern Tours, we think beer makes history even better…but we also like to imbibe in a cocktail. Check out these top places that serve up spirits in a historic fashion! #Huzzah
1. Ward 8
The only famous cocktail to get its start in Boston is the Ward 8. You can try this drink in a bar with the same name! It borders the North End and TD Garden and has a great summer open-air vibe and late-night menu. The Ward 8 cocktail--a rye whiskey, citrus, and grenadine concoction--is named after a Boston politician from the turn of the 20th century who secured a victory with help from the city’s 8th election ward. Rumor has it that establishments would serve the drink with a miniature Massachusetts flag, though now it’s typically accompanied by a cherry.
Recommended Cocktail: Ward 8…obviously!
2. Omni Parker House
What’s better than a hotel bar with history? The Parker House opened in the mid-19th century and has lodged famous Bostonians and travelers alike. Sip a cocktail at the place where famous writers used to gather and JFK had his bachelor party. But watch out for the ghosts… this place is rumored to be haunted!
Recommended Cocktail: If you like to drink your dessert, order the scrumptious Boston Crème Pie martini. The pie itself was invented in the Parker House kitchens!
The oldest chef-owned restaurant in Boston is worth visiting for a meal, but it also has a great ambiance and two bars if you’re in search of a historic cocktail. Check out the black-and-white checkered bar on the first floor or head upstairs for a bit more privacy.
Recommended Cocktail: The Boston Tea Party – a mix of tequila, earl grey, ginger beer, and lemon. Yummmm!
4. The Merchant
This brasserie-style restaurant makes its bar the focal point and has a strong cocktail program. Join the happy hour crowd in Downtown Crossing, at the edge of the Financial District, for a craft cocktail that will leave you wanting more.
Recommended Cocktail: The menu is constantly changing, but if you’re lucky enough to catch a historical cocktail, you won’t be disappointed! We loved the James Otis's Insanity.
5. OAK Long Bar + Kitchen
Besides boasting some of the best clam chowder in Boston, the bartenders at OAK Long Bar know what they’re doing. Right in Copley Square, named after the preeminent portrait artist of late-Colonial Boston, this bar/restaurant of the Fairmont Hotel has been around since 1912. It even housed a merry-go-round back in the 1930s!
Recommended Cocktail: The wood-filled room makes us feel traditional – opt for the Oak Old Fashioned or the Real G&T.
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds that flock to Irish pubs and the St. Patrick’s / Evacuation Day Parade (fun fact: Evacuation Day was the day that British soldiers left Boston on March 17, 1776 following an eleven-month siege) – check out these other fun activities around the city!
1. For the Beer Lover
Harpoon St. Patrick’s Festival is happening a little early this year (March 6th & 7th), but who doesn’t love to get the party started?! There will be live music Friday evening through Saturday afternoon and rumor has it that bagpipes will be involved. The brewery will serve up St. Patrick’s themed beers and Harpoon staples like UFO White, which we’ve highlighted on our Freedom Trail Tour! Buy tickets early or at the door.
2. For the Athlete
The St. Patrick’s Day Road Race begins at 11am on March 15th near the parade route. It’s been part of Southie holiday festivities since 1940 and proceeds support local youth programs. The first 650 people to register get a race shirt designed by the Dropkick Murphys. Speaking of…
3. For the Music Lover
The Dropkick Murphys are returning home for four shows, running March 14th - 17th at the House of Blues. Whether it’s your first time “shipping up to Boston” or you’ve been around since the boys got together in Quincy in 1996, they're the perfect way to get you in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit!
4. For the History Lover
Head to the JFK Presidential Library on March 14th for a day commemorating Irish immigrants in Boston. There will be music by the Celtic Bells, public readings, poster exhibits, and more. Fun for the whole family!
5. For the Cultured
The Irish Film Festival runs March 19th – 22nd at Somerville Theater in Davis Square. The weekend includes showings of over 50 films, the largest of its kind outside of Ireland. This will be the 20th anniversary of the event so they're going big--the festival will include documentaries, exhibitions, and awards – “great craic” as the Irish would say!
Four U.S. Presidents were born in Massachusetts and many more lived here during their schooling, including eight graduates of Harvard University. Can you name them all? (Answers at bottom of the post.) In honor of President’s Day, tour guides Kristen and Brooke will be hosting a History of Boston trivia night at Aeronaut Brewing on Tuesday, February 18 at 8pm. Four of our favorite Massachusetts themed presidential stories are below and--HINT--they'll help you at our trivia!
1. Danger Strikes Teddy Roosevelt
In September 1902, Theodore Roosevelt was visiting Pittsfield, Massachusetts when his carriage was struck by a speeding trolley car. The carriage careened around 40 feet, knocking Roosevelt onto the pavement and bruising the Governor of Massachusetts, Winthrop Crane. Unfortunately, Secret Service agent William Craig wasn’t so lucky. He got stuck under the train car and became the first U.S. Secret Service agent ever killed in the line of duty.
2. JFK Born in Brookline
Brookline, just a few miles from downtown Boston, is home to the 35th president's birthplace and first family house. It's now a National Historic Site (the inside is under renovation and closed to visitors for 2020). Rose Kennedy purchased their former home on Beals Street to commemorate her late son, and set all the clocks in the house to just before 3pm, when Jack was born on May 29, 1917. For more JFK history, his Presidential Library and Museum is worth the visit and we touch on a few Kennedy-related tidbits on our Freedom Trail tour!
3. Abraham Lincoln Assassin Stays in Boston
In 1863, John Wilkes Booth a national star and had performed in numerous local theater productions. He was in Boston in April 1865 and stayed at the Parker House. Ten days later, Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. In a strange historical coincidence, the man who would later kill Booth, Boston Corbett, had undergone a religious conversion in Boston, changing his name to honor the city where he became a new man.
4. Coolidge Crushes a Strike
Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, was born in New England, attended Amherst College, and served as governor of Massachusetts. As governor, "Silent Cal" presided over a crazy moment in Boston history – the 1919 Boston Police Strike. When over three quarters of the police force announced a strike over the right to form a union, violence broke out and eight people died over four days. The strike ended when Coolidge put Boston under martial law for the first time since the Revolutionary War. Crushing the strike launched Coolidge into the national spotlight and led to his selection as Warren G. Harding’s running mate in the 1920 presidential election.
U.S. Presidents Born in Massachusetts: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy, George H.W. Bush
Harvard Graduates: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Barack Obama
Granary Burying Ground is a peaceful cemetery in the midst of Boston’s bustling downtown. If you’re on the Freedom Trail, you’ll find it as you walk down Tremont Street from the Boston Common. And if you join one of our tours, we'll take you in there!
The burying ground used to be part of Boston Common when bodies began to be buried there in 1660. A granary next door, used for wheat storage, gave the burying ground its name. The Park Street Church has stood on the old granary site since 1809. There are an estimated 5,000 bodies buried here, though you won’t see nearly that many tomb stones as most are family tombs. Here’s a list of graves to check out on your visit:
1. Three signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried here: John Hancock (left side), Samuel Adams (front right), and Robert Treat Paine (right wall).
2. The victims of the Boston Massacre are buried next to Samuel Adam’s tomb – on his family’s plot in fact! Join our tours to find out why…
3. Paul Revere is buried toward the back of the burying ground. It can be hard to find, as it’s small and close to the ground. But it’s worth searching for to pay your respects to the man famous for the midnight ride!
4. Peter Faneuil, the namesake for Faneuil Hall marketplace, is also buried here. Peter died in 1743, six months after Faneuil Hall opened as his philanthropic gift to the town of Boston.
5. The Infant’s Tomb is the final resting place for hundreds of young children. Infant mortality was quite high in colonial Boston and into the 1800s. You can find the tomb near the Franklin obelisk in the middle of the burying ground. This is where Benjamin Franklin’s parents and many of his relatives are buried, but he is buried in Philadelphia.
6. James Otis is a mostly unsung revolutionary hero, active in Boston's politics in the 1760s. He and Samuel Adams serve as bookends of the burying ground. Learn more about Otis and his wild benders and fights in episode 2 of our podcast, Beer Makes History.