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Explore the Taverns of the American Revolution in Boston

Although they failed to teach this in high school history class, the American Revolution was hatched in Boston’s many colonial taverns. Boston’s bars have played a huge role in the city’s rich history – from the Revolution onwards – and many, still standing, have lived to tell their stories.

Green Dragon Tavern
Although it bills itself as the “Headquarters of the Resistance,” the Green Dragon Tavern wasn’t technically around when Boston’s rebels were plotting the Tea Party. Still, the original Green Tavern was pretty close by and its bar was the location of much of the plotting against the Brits. The new Green Dragon may not be the original building, but its designers have done a lovely job of creating this homage to the colonial tavern’s rich role in the city’s history, so it’s an excellent stop for a little rest, a Paul Revere burger, and a pint of, well… Sam Adams.

11 Marshall Street, 617-367-0055

Warren Tavern
The Warren Tavern is one of a handful of authentic eighteenth-century taverns still standing in America. Its founder, Dr. Joseph Warren, was a surgeon and key player in the American Revolution with a significant role in the Battle of Bunker Hill, the site of which is marked with a monument and museum about a block away from the tavern, a key stop on the Freedom Trail. George Washington and Paul Revere really did drink here, which makes the already quaint and charming historical artifact even more so. Add to that solid New England staples, and good beer, and this becomes one of the most palatable history lessons you’ll ever get. 

2 Pleasant Street, Charlestown, 617-241-8142

The Bell in Hand Tavern
At night time, The Bell in Hand Tavern has become something of a party bar, which is probably not precisely what it was like when the alehouse was established, way back in 1795, by Jimmy Wilson, one of Boston’s loudest town criers. At the time, it was more of a hub for politicians and businessmen who came to catch up on the latest news and enjoy a mug of ale. Like a few bars that lay claim to being the oldest, there’s a bit of a hitch with this one, it switched buildings in the middle of the nineteenth century, so isn’t on the precise same spot where Wilson hung out a shingle. It’s still a mighty old bar with a rich past, though. 

45 Union Street, 617-227-2098

Jacob Wirth
Those hopping on the recent, explosive beer hall and beer garden trend will want to check out Jacob Wirth, a nineteenth-century German beer hall in the theater district. Established in 1868, when there were almost as many beer halls as there were Irish saloons, Wirth’s has ample old-world charm, 40 beers on tap, and hearty dishes, notably sauerbraten, bratwurst, wiener schnitzel, and on Tuesday nights, 25-cent hot dogs. The rest of the week, Wirth’s is known for sing-a-longs, live piano music, and the occasional German Oompa Band. 

31 Stuart Street, 617-338-8586

21st Amendment
Named after the law that ended Prohibition in America, the 21st Amendment on Bowdoin near Boston Common has had several incarnations, including having originally been one of the city’s first luxury hotels. Later, it became a pub called the Golden Dome and mid-century, a men’s only bar that catered to the city’s politicians including, most notably, JFK. It’s considerably less exclusive now, but the décor and rooms themselves still invoke that old mid-century private club feeling. The occasional politician still drops in, too, and neighbour John Kerry has named the bar’s “21st Burger” the best in the city. 

150 Bowdoin Street, 617-227-7100

This article was originally published on April 15, 2015

Published Wednesday, November 15th 2017

Header image credit: Courtesy, Jacob Wirth



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