Boston Historic Tavern Tour
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Historic Taverns of Boston BOOK

FOREWORD from Book

Boston taverns in the 1700’s were so abundant visitors commented that every other house in Boston was a tavern. The question has to be asked what remains of these mecca’s of hospitality today? Gavin R. Nathan tackles the subject from two fronts, combining new research of Boston’s current entertainment scene with historical insights. The result is a ‘then and now’ perspective that ties the past to the present by addressing 370 years of rich tavern history in one book. Until now, very little had been written about Boston’s old inns and ordinaries. Gavin sets the record straight by collating evidence to catalogue every known tavern that existed from 1630 to 1830. The result,
Historic Taverns of Boston is a very significant contribution

to our understanding of old taverns in America.

The history of Boston itself cannot be written without reference to taverns. The important role of taverns in key historical events such as the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and Paul Revere‘s ride is unearthed here in detail. Boston taverns were an institution in their own right. The reader of this book will

discover what happened when this institution came into contact with others in the local community, namely the Church, the Courts and a famous university. For the first time the relevance and importance of early Boston taverns in American history becomes clear to all. The historical picture is completed with a thorough investigation into the architecture, decoration, music and entertainment that were common in these old taverns. A wealth of information is unearthed on the most popular and most bizarre beverages, and how to create these authentic drinks today. Gavin mined original recipes and culinary research to create a typical tavern menu that dismisses a popular delusion that puritan food and drink was bland and boring. The recipes selected are anything but, infusing native ingredients with spices from around the world.

In successfully linking the past to the present the author provides an update on Boston’s current tavern scene and the local brewing industry. This research alone makes
Historic Taverns of Boston the most comprehensive ‘off the beaten path’ guide to Boston taverns today. There are one or two hidden tavern treasures that even local experts will be surprised to discover. For the out-of towner, many of the recommendations and comprehensive listings of current taverns are enough to fill a week with tavern trekking in and around Boston.

The work is both a significant historical contribution and an essential guide to help locals and visitors get the most out of Boston taverns.

Historic Taverns of Boston

370 Years of Tavern History Unearthed

by Gavin R. Nathan


Table of Contents

The Evolution of Boston Taverns

Before Taverns, Came Beer

Puritan Ordinaries

Colonial Taverns

Inns for Stages

Bars: A Modern Creation

An Institution

Bars & bibles

Liquor & The Law

Beer & Books

Anatomy of a Tavern

Signs & Names

Taprooms & Tools of the Trade

Tavern Terminology & Toasts


Brew Houses, Cellars & Parlors

Entertainment & Games

The Bill “Mind Your P’s and Q’s”

Colonial Bartenders Guide

Ale, Rum, Punch, Flip, Cider, Sack

Recreating a Bill of Fare

First Plates

Second Plates

Old Boston Taverns Unearthed

A-Z List of Taverns 1630-1830

Boston Taverns Today

Hidden History Behind Bars

Authentic Taverns Near Boston

Boston Brewing

From Alewives to Breweries

Notable Boston Brewers

What’s Brewing Today?

Index of Bars, Breweries & Characters

Donations and Thanks


All profits from the sale of this book are donated to PreservatiON MASS, the only statewide, private non-profit preservation organization dedicated to preserving the Commonwealth’s historic and cultural heritage. Today, PreservatiON MASS works in partnership with national, state and local preservation organizations and individuals across the Commonwealth to preserve our heritage. Helping threatened resources through their Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources Program and through working with the many concerned individuals who identify neglected/threatened structures in their communities.

Special thanks go to all those who helped me at the Boston Public Library,
National Park Service, The Bostonian Society, Golden Ball Tavern in Weston, PreservatiON MASS, Society for Protection of New England Antiquities, Suffolk County Probate Records, Museum of Fine Arts, Jamaica Plain Historical Society, Boston Beer Company, Barleycorn and the many local bar owners and brewers who contributed to this book.

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ISBN-13:                       078-0-595-39370-1

ISBN-10:                               0-595-39370-5

Publisher:                                     iUniverse