The Tour’s Hangover

Well here I am a week after the end of this silly project and I feel like something is missing. I am still looking for new or unseen places while I drive through Worcester, but then realize, I am done, I don’t have to do that anymore. But let’s praise this tour, I am very aware of the landscape of the city, seeing businesses closed and opening, seeing people walk into bars or amble past, holding bags of groceries, focusing on their phones and not noticing the nice bar before them.

The other day was my birthday and my wife gave me tonic water and a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin. She didn’t know if I would want it what with me swearing off gin and tonics after this tour. But why not, a good gin is a nice thing. While we watched a very cool monster movie on TV (Harbinger Down) I sipped at the drink I made. This gin and tonic did not taste a lot like the things I was given on the tour. The drink lasted me the length of the movie, it was a pleasure not to rush.

And now, as promised, a little wrap up. This tour was never about the best and the worst, the nicest and the dirtiest. This was about the process of being complete and thorough. But with that said, let’s do a little talking of the good and the not so good.

The best bars I went to: Nick’s and Vincent’s (of course, because those were the bars I call my bars so how can they not be on the list). Breen’s was great. Also, though I didn’t say it in my write up, I really loved my time at Guertin’s and want to go back. And I loved George’s, the bar attached to Coney Island Hot Dog.

Fun Neighborhood Joints: Marty’s, Gallagher’s, Blarney Stone

Decent places for a cheap drink: I think I have to pick to Herbies, but parking is a bitch there and it can get crowded. Also, at Sole Proprietor, a very nice place indeed, the drink was only 5.50, which given the environs was a great deal.

Biggest Surprises: I was impressed with the drink at Basil n Spice because I thought it was going to be just another Asian Bar-Restaurant. In the same regard, I thought the bar at Piccolo’s was awesome and inviting. It was more than an Italian joint with a bar.

Best Sports Bar: This is tough because even dance clubs call themselves sports bars. I am going for two places where when I was there, the people were sports crazed. That is Parkway and Bennie’s.

Best Dives: I did a big write up on this back in December, but I still think the best dives are Guertin’s and Moynihan’s. I am going to not put Hotel Vernon on the list because the last time I was there felt like young hipsters hanging out on a dare.

Scariest Joints: These are not the worst, just the places you might not want to go alone if you want to go at all: Fat Tony’s, Brook’s, Pleasant Cafe

Worst Joint: This is without question Foodwork’s Chinese Restaurant. It was one of the last ones I went to for the tour and just an unpleasant experience. An honorable mention is the Perfect Game, and I know its well regarded and people like it but the time I was there, the regulars and the bartender for a little bit, ridiculed this old guy who was either drunk beyond remembering his name or suffering through dementia, either way, it makes me never want to go back there.(if you want to read that sad story, google perfect game gin and tonics worcester and you should get it.)

Dirtiest Bar: I know I am just being mean, but this one goes to Chioda’s, I don’t think they ever wiped down their bar this century.

The Best Gin and Tonics: The Fix, hands down. Really good (though it had a mediocre bar feel to the place) Basil n Spice, Vincent’s, Breen’s. There were a lot of decent ones, but remember I always went for the basic or well option.

Lousiest Gin and Tonics: Maxwell Silverman’s (I almost spit it out it was so harsh), Dive Bar (At the end of the drink it stopped tasting of gin and then had a very clear anise flavor, the hell is that about, like they put the wrong alcohol in or something)  Fat Tony’s (like syrup), Scorz, and Jillian’s (It wasn’t the gin and tonic per se, I think, it was the fact that she put so much ice in the glass that the ice formed a dome over the pint glass that I didn’t have much drink to judge, and that glass of ice was six bucks.) I guess I should also put in Anoyke Krom. I really liked my time there and it was an awesome vibe, but instead of a gin and tonic, I got a gin and coca-cola. That was some tough drinking.

Most Expensive Gin and Tonic: That was at Azteca’s at 10 bucks. Its a dance club at that time of night, and it seems that the drink prices are in replacement for a cover charge.

Cheapest Gin and Tonic: That was at Herbie’s at 2.50.

I am sure I am missing come categories and things people might want to know, but as I said, this was never about the best and the worst, this was about seeing a city through 144 cocktails.


That image on top comes from one of my favorite Worcester oriented blogs

Nick’s – #144 on the Tour. The Final Bar for the Tour!

The Bar: Nick’s

The Address 124 Millbury Street

The Day and the Time Sunday at 7

The price 8

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime He did, that Bartender Brian, he is such a joker

What was the type of gin I don’t know. I don’t care. Its gin and its tonic. Its a flavor sensation

What was the gin and tonic like It was great. It was the best gin and tonic in the world because its the last one of 144 on the tour I just took around Worcester and to have it end in the bar I love best, the bar I call mine, it could not be any sweeter.

It’s funny. So many times on this tour, I would come here and complain or at least kvetch about the bars I had just been to, so throughout this whole process, Nick’s has been the olly olly oxen free homebase. I never had a gin and tonic when visiting however. Just beer and whisky, like any true drinker should. I left the gin and tonics for the tour (kept it at the office if you will.). You find a place where they accept you and the stool feels good underneath you and the jukebox is good and you even like it when its absolutely silent, you have to respect that. Nick’s is unique because of TCM playing old movies and the German paintings and the dark wood. It works for me. I like the bartenders. I like the pride they take in the drinks they pour. I like how after my first time at Nick’s I knew that this was the place I was looking for.

The Story: For this last stop on the tour I invited people to join me. I had my drink on the stage, read a few pieces from the blog and answered questions. I had over 10 people join me for this, and its great because going bar to bar got pretty lonely, The questions were fun and smart. They asked how excited my wife is for this being over (she’s pretty stoked). One asked if I cared for gin and tonics at all by the end. The answer is, is that I am done with this drink. I have tapped that well. Another question was , have i returned to any of the bars I went to on the tour and actually, no, I went to Vintage Grill once more, but that was for the food and not for drinks (i liked it by the way). I was asked what was a surprise to me, and I mentioned Picollos being a great surprise as a bar, but mostly I talked about how surprisingly welcoming almost all of the bars were: from Cisero’s to Muse to scores more. I only had a handful of bad experiences, but even those places, I was welcome there. There was only one or two places I was truly not welcome (I’m looking at you Grey Hound Pub, and I am not sorry that it is out of business). I was surprised by how after 18 months and 144 bars, I was still excited about the next place that I never knew existed. I am happy it is over. I am happy to be done. I am not going to continue you this with another drink or food item. I am done. But I am happy to have done it.

But I would love someone else to discover Worcester by going to every (fill in the blank). Or if you live in another city, and you want to get to understand it, to feel connected to it, go to every bar, and get a gin and tonic.

I said all these things at Nick’s last night, on stage, drinking a gin and tonic. I am so happy to have done it there. I love that place. I love that the doors are open for me to sit down and get a drink, any drink.

I think there may be one or two more posts, I will do a superlatives list and my friend T wants to make me a really good gin and tonic and I will write that up, and then this blog will be dormant.

Tonight at 7 (September 27, 2015) I will have my final Gin and Tonic for the Tour. Here is the list of all the bars I went to on this tour of every bar in Worcester. I did not succeed, but I went to a lot of places and had a hell of a lot of fun.

1. The Diamond Inn

2. Cafe Neo

3. Suney’s Pub

4. The Blackstone Tap

5. The Greyhound Pub

6. Marty’s

7. Mickey O’Neil’s

8. Gallagher’s

9. McGuire’s

10. Brooks

11. Art’s Diner

12. The Galway Bay Pub

13. Fat Tony’s

14. Herbie’s

15. Patsie Dugan’s

16. The Perfect Game

17. The Arcadia Club

18. Madigan’s Again

19. Union Tavern

20. The Banner

21. The Cosmopolitan Club

22. The Press Box

23. Moynihan’s

24. Breen’s

25. The Varsity Bar and Grill

26. Cisero’s

27. Rivalry

28. The M.B. Lounge

29. The Dive Bar

30. Beatnick’s

31. McDonald’s Tavern

32. Jak’s Pub

33. Moynagh’s

34. Still and Stir

35. City Lights

36. The Nines

37. The Park Grill and Spirits

38. Tweed’s Pub

39. Center Bar and Grill

40 Pleasant Cafe

41 The American Legion Hall – Providence Street

42. Ralph’s Tavern

43. Loft 266

44. El Basha – Park Avenue

45. Anokye Krom

46. Ho Toy

47. The Canal Bar and Grille

48. The Blarney Stone

49. Ken Chin’s

50. The KasBar

51 Guertin’s Cafe

52. George’s

53. Electric Haze

54 The Compass Tavern

55. Scorz

56. The Shisha Room

57. The Parkway Restaurant and Bar

58. Peppercorn’s

59. 7 Nana

60. Bennie’s Bar and Grill

61. Smokey Joe’s Cigar Bar

62. Birkbeck’s Waterfront Grill

63. Sakuro Tokyo

64. Blue Jean’s Bistro

65. Funky Murphy’s

66. Vintage Grill and Gourmet Pizza

67. Plaza Azteca

68. Nancy Chang’s

69. Sake Bomb

70. Smokestack Urban BBQ

71. Pepe’s

72. Sweet

73. The Fix

74. Ralph’s Chatwick Square Diner

75. Northwork’s

76. Ritual

77. Michael’s Cigar Bar

78. 3G’s Sports Bar

79. Zorba’s

80. La Scala

81. Padavano’s Place

82. Fiddler’s Green

83. Joey’s Bar and Grill

84. Mai Tai’s

85. Takara

86. Brew City

87. Volturno Pizza

88. O’Connor’s

89. Shangri-La

90. Citizen Wine Bar

91. G Bar

92. Lucky Dog Music Hall

93. Primo’s Extension

94. Industry

95. Tatnuck Grille

96. Viva Bene

97. Pho Dakao

98. Greendale’s Pub

99. The Raven

100. Jillian’s

101. Hotel Vernon

102. The Red Lantern

103. Kenichi

104. Armsby Abbey

105. Mezcal Cafe

106. Smitty’s Tavern

107. Evo

108. Victory Bar and Grill

109. Green Hill Golf Club House

110. The Flying Rhino

111 Via

112.. Mambo Drink Hookah Lounge

113. The Wexford House

114. Bocado

115. The Urban Kitchen

116. Mi Reyna

117. Meze

118. Grille 57

119. Baba Sushi

120. Mahoney’s

121. Kai

122. 111 Chophouse

123. Piccolo’s

124. The Boynton

125. Sole Proprietor

126. The Sahara

127. Chuan Shabu Pot Pot Restaurant

128. Maxwell’s Silverman’s

129. Nuovo

130. Ceres Bistro

131 Kyoto

132 Stakes Sports Pub

133 The Country Music Ranch and Saloon

134 The Wonder Bar

135 Basil n Spice

136 Rocky’s Sports Bar

137 Dino’s

138 Chioda’s

139 Muse

140 El Rincon

141 Foodworks Chinese Restaurant

142 Mare E Monti

143 Vincent’s

144 Nick’s

and then

rehab (though that place is closed now)

This is the end

The Last Bar on the Tour: You can join me for the last gin and tonic at Nick’s on Millbury Street 7PM 9/27/15 which is a Sunday. I will still be looking for anonymity, so I will be happy to be called Dante when we do this. Its not free drinks, but the place is a good one. See you there if you can make it.

Vincent’s – the 143 (and penultimate) stop on the tour

The Bar: Vincent’s

The Address 49 Suffolk Street

The Day and the Time Friday at 8:45

The price 7

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime No i just got it.

What was the type of gin Well

What was the gin and tonic like It was good. But it follows the rule. Like the place. Like the drink.

The Joint This is a hard one to write, because for a long time, this was my bar. This was the bar I would go to. If I was to meet someone, it would be “Meet me at Vincent’s”. Hell, part of the first date I had with my wife was at Vincent’s. Coming in for this stop of the tour, it seemed impossible for me to look at this place objectively. It is filled with history and comfort.

There are the old 100 year old group photos. There are the taxidermy on the walls. There are the pulp paperback covers put into the bar surface. Around is a group of people ages from 20s to the 60s drinking and talking and watching the Red Sox blow it. A blues band sets up,they play loud. But there is escape to the back if the music is not your thing (They sounded pretty decent to me). The bartenders are moving and serving drinks like this is a bar where people want to get their booze. All of this is true and I am sure I would have been charmed with it as I was 16 years ago when I first came here. It is a strange idiosyncratic joint and that is what makes it welcoming, it smacks of someone’s particular tastes. If they are similar to yours, then you will feel good there. Now it’s not for everyone, my dear friend Epicurean Eric did not care for it at all. But then there are places he loves that I don’t like, like the Boynton. But that’s why its a wonderful thing to have such variety and choice. Don’t want to go to Vincent’s, then you can go to Nick’s or Muse or Armsby. Find the place you feel at home.

General Impressions I suppose one of the quests people who like bars must go on is to find the bar that bar that you will call your own. Is the place easy to get to? Is the asshole quotient low? Do they make the drinks you like. The thing about the quest and the questions is that you are going to spend an awful lot of time at this joint and its got to be right. The odd thing about this tour is that I always knew what my Bar was. I was never looking for a new bar to call my own. It is Nick’s. It was closer to me and hit me as the more mature Vincent’s and for me that’s what I wanted. But being in in Vincent’s is still a good time for me. I still like it. Its the old decorations and its retro feel but with a nice welcoming attitude.

Yeah, writing about the places you love and feel a part of your history is hard. Trust me. We all have our places we love, but that doesn’t mean we can describe them well. I had a good time at Vincent’s that evening. Like a lot of other evenings.

Amount of Time in the Joint 30 minutes

Will I come back Yes.

The Last Bar on the Tour: You can join me for the last gin and tonic at Nick’s on Millbury Street 7PM 9/27/15 which is a Sunday.

Mare e Monti – #142 on the Tour

The Bar: Mare E Monti

The Address 19 Wall Street

The Day and the Time Friday at 8:25

The price 6.50

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She did, with professionalism and grace.

What was the type of gin well

What was the gin and tonic like A nice simple drink. Nothing wrong with it.

The Joint: I had not gone here because I was under the impression that this was a BYOB joint. But driving by on my way to Vincent’s, I saw a bar through the door. I parked and went in. The lobby could fit a lot of people waiting for tables and the bar had about eight or ten stools. This was a classic Italian joint where people drank in the lobby waiting to get into the dining room. There were quite a few people waiting, but it was not a hardship it seemed. The bartenders were fast and friendly and there was space in the room, which is nice.

General Impressions Amid the bustle and anticipation of the couples and and families and first dates, waiting for their tables, there were two people sitting at the bar by themselves. Both stared ahead or at the their phones until their food arrived and then the focus could be on that, One was a woman, the other a man, both in their late thirties or early forties. Were they stood up? Were they stuck in Worcester for business? Did they just want a nice meal and no hassle of rustling up a dining companion?  As I stood in the lobby area, sipping my drink, I imagined that they would look up from their pasta dishes and see each other. Recognize something familiar in each others solitary dining and move to sit next to one another without saying a word. I could imagine the plates touching. Smiles exchanged, loneliness in a public setting for once defeated. Yeah. I think a lot while drinking my gin and tonics. Maybe they were happy eating alone, maybe my daydreams were as half baked as most of my ideas. Stop thinking, Dante, and finish that drink.

Amount of Time in the Joint 20 minutes

Will I come back I can see going there for dinner. It looked good. A nice location. Why not?

The Last Bar on the Tour: You can join me for the last gin and tonic at Nick’s on Millbury Street 7PM 9/27/15 which is a Sunday.

Foodworks Chinese Restaurant (the one on Route 20) – #141 on the Tour

The Bar: Foodworks Chinese Restaurant

The Address Southwest Commons, 50 SW Cutoff (Route 20 and Route 122)

The Day and Time: This was Friday at eightish

The Price: Six dollars

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: I think so. This was an unhappy production. The harried looking woman asked me my order and if I wanted a lime. She disappeared and the man working with her showed up and brusquely said, “Is this yours? This drink? Is this yours?” I said yes and oh how happy I was to be given such dulcet service.

What was the type of gin: Gin distilled from sulfur and sadness(well gin as seen in this kind of place)

What was the gin and tonic like: Like the place itself, it was mean and unpleasant. You know that belief that dog owners look and act like the dogs they picked, the same is true for bars – the attitude of the bar can be found in the cocktails they serve. A great place will have great cocktails despite the ingredients. And lousy places will have lousy drinks, even if they were pouring from the top shelf, but of course, those places never serve from the top shelf.

Wait, stop, you are being very mean here Dante, what’s the deal?: Yeah, well in this 140 plus tour of bars of Worcester, I have been to places I didn’t like, or places that were down right scary, and many places I knew immediately I would never go back to, but I have never left a bar thinking, I really hate this bar. Well, here it is friends.

I hated my ten minutes at Foodworks.

I hated how mean and unhappy the bartenders were. I hated how brightly lit it was and that you could see all the unhappiness in the place. It was clean and presentable, but it was clean and bright like a three am Airport lounge and who doesn’t hate those? I hated watching the guy drag his six year old daughter up to the bar area from their table with the chinese food getting cold, so he could play more keno. I hated the drunk next to me who hit me friendly like, but still unwelcome and when I told him to not hit me, he got pissed off and so I moved my seat and he followed me so he could mock me some more and tell me he could really hit me if I wanted. I hated how the bartenders and the crowd of Keno castaways just ignored what was going on or noticed it and didn’t give a shit. I hated the long pull on the straw I made to finish my drink and split.  I was happy to be out of there, and that might be the only thing I didn’t hate, the escape.

So Dante, aren’t you going to do your typical write up now? No. The place ain’t worth it.