5 Historic Drinking Spots from 5 Continents
If you’re anything like us, then the prospect of travelling across the globe to find new historic drinking spots excites you. If it’s near impossible to resist booking the next flight out to get your hands on a beer filled with nostalgia, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled 5 historic drinking spots from 5 continents, so take a look at the stories behind each fascinating pub and choose your favourite... and you never know, it may be the next destination on your travels!
Asia - The Fairmont Peace Hotel
Starting out in 1929 as an English-style pub, the Peace hotel was an archetype of art deco architecture on Shanghai’s historic riverside. Known as the pride of Shanghai, the Bund is a mile-long stretch of waterfront promenade along the Huangpu river that promises a breathtaking journey through time with its dozens of historical buildings. 82 establishments with an array of architectural styles stand to the West of this stretch, ranging from gothic, baroque, and neoclassical styles, and this vibrant experience is continued with the Fairmont Peace hotel. It’s renowned for its live jazz band and English style decor during the 1920’s and 30’s, and became central to Shanghai’s jazz age with the world’s oldest jazz band at the forefront of this deserved fame.
In a city that is constantly on the move, “Old jazz band” are an unparalleled stability made up of six veteran musicians whose age range from a comparatively youthful 63 to a phenomenal 97 year old trumpeter. At 76, Li Minsheng is the bands alto saxophonist who has played jazz for at least 40 years...the saxophone he performs with today has been his pride and joy since the 1960’s! In an attempt to revive the bar’s 1930’s air, where the Peace hotel became so well known for its jazz that it was renamed as “The Jazz Bar”, Old Jazz band now perform 365 days a year through a passion for music and a determination to improve thanks to the influence of the top jazz scenes across the world. And here’s a fun fact to leave you with: Former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan are among the big names that frequently enjoyed a tipple at this venue, and Bill Clinton who plays the sax often joined in to create a momentous evening of legendary jazz!
Australia - The Fortune of War
The Fortune of War is the oldest pub in Sydney having been built in 1828 by former convict Samuel Terry, who later became known as the “Botany Bay Rothschild” due to his shrewd business dealings. He arrived in Australia in 1800 after being convicted of the theft of 400 stockings, sentencing him to transportation for seven years. Once his sentence had ended, Terry moved to Sydney from Parramatta and became an innkeeper, which granted him one of twenty liquor licences when they were being diminished in 1810. And so The Fortune of War was born, which soon became renowned for being the first and last port of call for generations of Australian soldiers involved in conflict, as well as a favoured “first and last stop ashore” for sailors and the troops of the Australian Armed Forces. In fact, the pub’s name originates from the concept that once they departed Sydney Cove to defend their country, they were said to experience the “Fortune of War”. Tooth & Co, a brewery operating in Sydney since 1835, rebuilt the Fortune of War hotel in 1921, allowing it to be used as a public house for over an impressive 188 years. It’s also interesting to know that members of the 2nd Mountain Battery have met every Anzac day in the Fortune of war since 1948, and the pub was suggested as meeting place after each Anzac Day march by a battery veteran who was employed by Maritime Services Board, just across the road from the hotel. Although most of the battery are no longer with us, the Fortune of War continues to be a familiar meeting place for many veterans on one of the country’s most important days.
North America - McSorley’s Old Ale House
Established in 1854, McSorley’s Old Ale House situated at 15 East 7th street is renowned for being the oldest continuously operated saloon and “Irish” tavern in New York City. For 164 years McSorley’s has been a gathering place, a watering hole, the home of art and literature... and it's also no stranger to controversy with a supreme court case in 1970! When prohibition ended in 1933, McSorley’s still remained as a strictly “no ladies” pub despite the fact that many bars now admitted women. They stood by their philosophy of “good ale, raw onions, and no ladies” until civil rights attorney’s Faith Seidenberg and Karen Decrow had to take their case to the supreme court in order to gain access for women across New York… and so by 1970, women were rightfully allowed a drink, with Teresa Maher de la Haba becoming the first woman to work behind the bar in 1994!
When it comes to the atmosphere, many consider it to be reminiscent of “olde new york”, with sawdust strewn floors and history patched walls. Impressively, no piece of memorabilia has been removed from the walls since 1910, and some of the historical paraphernalia in the bar include Houdini's handcuffs, which are connected to the bar rail! There are also wishbones hanging above the bar, placed there by boys going off to World War 1, to be removed once they had returned. Devastatingly, the wishbones that still remain are in memory of those who never returned. McSorley’s was also no stranger to thieves, and two of their motto’s are “Be Good or Be Gone” and “We were here before you were born”. Its rediscovery by the mainstream thanks to an appearance in a 1940’s New Yorker magazine profile meant that McSorley’s story still lives on 164 years later!
South Africa - The Historic Pig and Whistle Inn (Bathurst)
Established in 1832, the Historic Pig and Whistle Inn is the oldest pub in South Africa and was built by a settler called Thomas Hartley. Originally from Loxley in Yorkshire (one for the Robin Hood fans!), Hartley settled in Cumber in 1820 and chose to put roots down in Bathurst, where he built a forge and a house in the early 1820’s. After making it his own, Hartley opened an inn which he built next to his forge… and so the “Bathurst Inn” was open for business. Bathurst was in fact well situated geographically as a waypoint for wagon travellers, and upon arrival they’d find a Smithy, farrier, and shops as well as the sought-after inn. In fact, surgeon Ambrose Campbell began to travel to Bathurst from Grahamstown on the first Saturday of every month for consultations in 1832. The Bathurst Inn soon became highly regarded and, despite the neighbouring forge, the inn’s rooms were transformed into “Subscription Rooms for Gentlemen”, where high profile guests including Lord Charles Somerset, the Governor of the Cape, and Sir Benjamin D’Urban were known to spend the night. In 1840, Thomas Hartley passed away and his widow, Sarah, took over the inn. Her fantastic hospitality meant that the inn flourished, becoming a favoured place to settle for travelling dignitaries and government officials. The inn was renamed to “Widow Hartley’s Inn”, and two years later it was painted in oils by the famous English explorer and artist Thomas Baines. 100 years on, the inn acquired its current name of “Pig and Whistle” due to the soldiers from the Royal Air Force being stationed nearby, where they collectively chose to name their new pub after their local in England. Today, in South Africa’s oldest continuously licensed pub, you’ll find a warm and welcoming atmosphere amongst the abundance of stone walls, wooden beams and the air force memorabilia that adorns the walls as a reminder of this pubs long and colourful history.
Europe - Al Brindisi
Italy is home to the oldest tavern in the world, Al Brindisi, which can be found in the stunning town of Ferrara. During the renaissance times, it was an extremely frequented inn situated in a narrow alley next to the Cathedral, where it still stands to this day. The tavern actually already existed in 1435, where it was formerly known as “Hostaria del Chiuchiolino” - inspired by “Ciuc” which literally means drunk! At the time, the tavern was reached by boat from the current Via degli Adelardi because it was close to a small creek. By the end of the 1950’s, the Pellegrini family took ownership of this historical tavern where it is now an establishment sought out by tourists but is also frequented by many locals. Nostalgia awaits at Al Brindisi, for it holds a phenomenal story of almost 600 years old, earning it an appearance in the Guiness book of world records, making it more than worth the visit.