Fat Tony’s Pub- #13 on the Tour

The Bar: Fat Tony’s Pub

The Address 1051 Main Street (This used to be down the street and when I started this tour, I was sad to see it was gone, because this was a place I was always curious about but too wary (read scared) to go in. But with the tour, I have to go to every bar, so there you are.

The price: 5.50

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime. Yes, and he squeezed it and then put it in

What was the type of gin He asked if I wanted Tanqueray or House. I liked how he said house instead of well. House gin makes me think of a sweet subtle little house red the Italian restaurant’s owner makes in a vat in the back parking lot. It was a wonderful thought, but of course it was not meant to be.

What was the gin and tonic like: It had flavor. Boy howdy it had flavor. It didn’t taste exactly right. It coated my mouth like syrup. After I left, I went to the place Bartender Brian was working and had a B and B to get the taste out of mouth.  

The Joint: It was a clean, open place with a bar that gave the bartender plenty of room. It had a sign saying they had jello shots for a dollar. The drinks came in fake mason jars that had an ad on it for Bud Light Lime Ritas. There was a group of women in the corner and I was surprised because this didn’t feel like such a girls night out joint. I found out later there was about ten men, probably their men, in another room. This separation of men and women was surprising, like I was at an Orthodox Bar Mitzva.

General Impressions: This is a bar for tough people, though they drank differently than that. A woman at the bar had a green drink, and the designated incessant talker at the bar asked what it was, it came back that it was a Tipsy Turtle which had Medori. The bar talker than went rhapsodic about how he used to drink Medori all the time. He loved Medori Martinis. Oh how he loved Medori Martinis. He asked the bartender if he knew how to make Medori Martinis. “Yeah, you put Medori in a martini glass.” The bar talker focused on me when I ordered my gin and tonic. “Gin. Wow. Someone’s ordering gin. Who orders gin anymore. I used to drink gin.” Of course he did. This was odd, I didn’t know I was drinking one of those forgotten cocktails from pre-prohibition times. Yes the forgotten drinks of yore, the Corpse Reviver and the Gin and Tonic.

I couldn’t get the taste of the drink out of my mouth so decide my time was almost up. I was surprised that the place only had about 10 or so folk in it on a Saturday night, but as I got up to leave I noticed there was a whole other room. A games room. Filled with darts, pool table, video games and men. 12 or so very hard men. Some met my gaze wondering why I was there. Just leaving friends, just leaving.

Will I come back: No.



Galway Bay Pub – #12 on the tour

The Bar: Galway Bay Pub

The Address 186 Stafford Street

The price $5.25

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She did.

What was the type of gin It was a well type.

What was the gin and tonic like It was in a pint glass, with a good deal of gin, but it wasn’t too alcoholic. It had pretty good flavor. Was it the tonic? Was it the gin? Was it because I downed it quickly and I didn’t give the ice enough time to melt and dilute it? Who knows? Not me. I ain’t a drink critic. I’m a tourist here.

The Joint: I had a Dr. Who Tardis moment when I walked in. It looked like a small little joint and when I walked in it was a good sized place with booths, a big U shaped bar and place for bands to play. If a Dalek came out of the bathroom, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

This is an Irish Bar, the kind you want. Dark, heavy wood, a lot of bottles at the bar. When I wrote about Mickey O’Neil’s I said that place felt like a fake Irish pub, this was more what it should be. Comfortable.

General Impressions It was a Thursday afternoon and only a few people were there. The bartender was talking to the other guy at the bar and she kept on talking. They were into a lively conversation and she got to me and my order after a minute. She talked to the guy some more and asked me if I wanted a lime. She talked to him for a bit longer and then she made my drink. I gave her my money and she held on to it for two minutes before she got around to making change, she was conversating for god sakes. This is bone of annoyance to me I know its slow, I know you like talking to people, but I would like my drink. I really think a bartender should tend bar, and conversations can be put on hold. Maybe coming to a bar on an off time is how you tell how the place really is. Here I found that the conversation she was having was more important than attending to customers.

I didn’t stay long, about five minutes. I had a call and had to go, but I don’t think I would have stayed for too much longer.

Will I come back No, and it wasn’t because of the bartender, the coolness of the joint far out weighed my pique. No, the parking there is awful. It is on a busy intersection and one of the roads is one way and it was nerve wracking  I’m still looking for the ultimate Irish bar in Worcester. This was closer, but I just want one that’s easier to get in and then escape from.galway-bay.jpg (1037×778)

Art’s Diner – #11 on the Tour

The Bar: Art’s Diner

The Address 541 West Boylston St

The price: He asked me if I wanted a small or large and I didn’t know what to do. What was the goal here? To sample or to get the most out of the experience? I am sure I had one of those weird twisted faces of indecision on my face. I finally realized I had had a gin and tonic earlier and do I really want a super sized burden. I got the small and it was 4.35. Haven’t seen that price range before, but it was under five bucks, so that’s a good thing in this tour.

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: Yes. I put a wedge in thank goodness for that.

What was the type of gin: I told him no preference and I got a well bottle.

What was the gin and tonic like: Flavorless. It had no character. It had a lot of alcohol, but it didn’t taste of much, which is why I was happy for the lime garnish. It was a twelve ounce glass.

The Joint: This place has character. A good sized bar, tables for diners behind and a good section for pool table and dart board. It has a run down though clean look. The floors have a great black and white tile design, like the hallway from my grandmother’s apartment building in Brooklyn(now there’s an odd aside). It has down home local bar cred but it also has a nice hipster feel to it,

General Impressions:  There were a few women who were joking with the bartender. The bartender was kissing and being affectionate with one of women. There was a lot of volume going on for so few people. The guy sitting next to me at the bar was gone, real gone, tongue out, not being able to form sentences to the bartender. I don’t know if it was because of a long life of drink or some other reason. The bartender kidded him, not in a bad way, but as in a friendly, we take all kinds here, sort of way.

I didn’t have much to pay attention to so I found myself watching the TV next to the bar. It had on the Ang Lee Hulk movie that my friends told me was awful. It certainly looked like a train wreck. I watched a big green cartoonish Hulk jumping around the desert being chased by helicopters. If I was at home, drinking a beer, I would have turned the channel. But I was at a bar. My choices were not my own. I chose to be here, I chose the drink I was having, but the TV was what was on, and I enjoyed being tortured by a lousy movie. I didn’t have a say in it. The movie was on, and the lack of decisions was a pleasure. This always happens to me at bars. I will love whatever is on the TV, even if it is the Snooker Competition on ESPN Two. Candlepin Bowling on TV? If it is on the bar TV, you bet. A pleasure.

Will I come back: Maybe. It was quiet when I was there and I can imagine it being pretty packed. But the laid back attitude was pretty appealing. The bartender with his pride and joy, the classic car in the parking lot, was fun and full of energy. If I’m in the area, why not?

Mickey O’Neill’s : #7 on the Tour

The Bar: Mickey O’Neill’s  formerly Nuff Ced, now it is this authentic named bar, as every  bar in merry old Ireland is called. I had to look up the name of this one a few times, even after I went. It just won’t stick in my head, like it’s not a real name. Bartender Brian called a bar named like this Paddy McDrinky. But hey, you know it’s an Irish bar. Actually I think it would be much cooler if a bar named this was actually a Kosher Deli. Now that’s a place name you’ll never forget. Come to  Mickey O’Neill’s  for the Matza Ball Soup. With a name like Mickey O’Neill’s  you know this place is a Mitzva!!!

The Address: 377 Park Ave

Price: Six dollars

Did he ask if I wanted a lime: No. He just put it in.

What was the type of Gin: This place had a nice selection of gins: I saw Boodles and Bulldog and other non-alliterative choices. After looking at the bottles, the bartender picked up the Tanqueray and poured me a good one.

How was the Gin and Tonic: It was good. I thought it was a decent cocktail.

The Joint:  This used to be a different bar, Nuff Ced. But the bartender told me a few months back they redid as a traditional Irish bar. What is a traditional Irish bar really? If you said the kind you would see in Hollywood movies, like Darby O’Gill and the Little People, than this is a traditional Irish bar. The place was crazy clean. The floor was hard wood. The bar was spacious. There was a communal table in the middle of the space. There were fake signs you might pick up in Home Goods that seem to be the kind of signs a bar would have. The liquor selection was excellent. There were single malt scotches and good Irish whiskeys and other fine spirits.

But I just couldn’t get over how this felt more like a set for an Irish Bar than an actual one. It was just me, the bartender and a couple guys setting up instruments to play later in the evening, so it did feel unreal, like we have the barn dressed up for the play, but no actors.

General Impression: When I’m the only paying customer in a joint, its hard to really judge a place, but I just couldn’t get over the set design feel. You want to film a movie at an Irish bar, this might be a fine place, but you want to sit and have a drink, I think there might be other more comfortable places. The bartender was friendly enough. He told me he has enjoyed the shift from Meat Market joint, when it was Nuff Ced to this more laid back joint now that it was this faux Irish Bar. Told me it was the same owners, they just wanted a different feel.

Will I Come Back: I don’t think so. It did have a great liquor selection, the best I have come across in this tour so far, so if I wanted a nice drink I might think of coming here. But I have a feeling I will find other places in Worcester that have a good selection of spirits that are more comfortable.

McGuire’s – #9 on the Tour

The Bar: McGuire’s

The Address 5 Saugus Place (off of Cambridge Street)

The price: 5.50

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime. He did and put it in with no extra charge.

What was the type of gin: Tanqueray. This was the standard gin for the order. The bartender said that that’s one of the reasons that makes McGuire’s the hidden jewel of the Worcester Bar Scene, the five fifty tanqueray and tonics (more on that further down the review, how can I leave that comment alone?)

What was the gin and tonic like: In a pint glass with a lot of gin. It was a good strong drink. It was a little too much gin, but it was refreshing. Can I just say I finished the whole glass? Such a good boy I am.

The Joint: I’m not sure if this is a hidden jewel but it is kind of hidden. Off of Cambridge Street, across a parking lot. There doesn’t seem to be a main entrance, just a bunch of side doors you can slink into. The place a pretty nice sized box. A nice size bar. A pool table. Darts for the darty. It has a dive feel. Kind of run down, not pristine clean. Not a bad place for a beer. And it felt very roomy.

General Impressions: It felt very roomy because I was the only one there. When I walked in I didn’t even see the bartender, thinking me alone, in a strange lost scene from a Twilight Zone episode. This was Wednesday around nine of an evening. The bartender was very friendly and made me a fine drink. I noticed they were having 50/50 raffle and I asked about it. The bartender told me it was for another bartender who had gotten in a bad car accident and it was for medical expenses. I bought two tickets.

This got us into other conversations. I asked if it always was this slow on Wednesdays. He said not always. Their dart team was playing a bout at Marty’s down the street and they no doubt would show up later. I mentioned that I liked that place and he said it was good but they had kooky hours. Not opened on Monday, things like that. The bartender told me he sold antiques, that he went to estate sales and storage unit auctions and we talked on that for a while. It is always a pleasure to find out how other people live and how other people value the things around them. These are the benefits to chatting at bars.

We talked some more and he spoke of this joint with pride. Said where else can you find a Tanqueray and Tonic for five fifty. I couldn’t deny this, so took a long sip from my drink as if that was agreement enough. Then he said the joint was the Hidden Jewel of Worcester. I can get snarkier than I already have been, but hell, how often do you see such pride in a run down gin mill? This should be something praised and not mocked, but I might mock just a tad more.

A woman walked in and the spell of a bar all to myself was broken, besides, my drink was done, and I really wanted to head home, so I did.

Will I come back; How can I say no to the Hidden Jewel of Worcester? In all seriousness, I had a nice half hour drinking my drink and talking to the bartender. Nothing wrong with a conversation with booze in the mix. I might check it out again. Which is the first time I say this in this tour. I just can’t tell what the place is about with just me in there. I liked it, but who knows what the regulars are like. So, yes, maybe.

Suney’s Pub: #3 on the Tour

The Bar: Suney’s

The Address: 216 Chandler Street

The price: 5 bucks

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: No. I just got one.

What was the type of gin: He asked what I wanted and I said it didn’t matter. I received a well gin, nothing remarkable.

What was the gin and tonic like The drink came in a pint glass with a lot of ice. It was a serviceable drink, nothing more, but not terrible..

The Joint: A few years back they redid the storefront and it is a good looking facade. But facade is all it is. You walk in and you get a dingy dark saloon, the kind that Jack London used to pass out in. There is a bar in the back left. There are a few tables. Dart board. It all looked like it needed a fine washing. There were duct works above me. Painted black. Beautiful old tin ceiling, painted black. (I see a red door and i want it painted black…..Mick Jagger would have done well here). This color choice makes the joint feel small and dim.

Behind the bar area is a fair sized dining area. I went in the afternoon and no one was eating. It looked like an old school cafeteria. This too felt like it needed a good washing if not a complete overhaul. My thought was that I would never eat here, but I heard from one of my Virgils, Bartender Brian, that Suney’s food is great. That the chicken they have on the weekend is worth the trip. I asked him if it was worth walking through the dingy gauntlet of the bar area and he said yes, so there you go. When getting a bite to eat, close your eyes and walk thirty feet until you smell good vittles.

General Impressions: There were four or five at the bar. The bartender responded to me quickly and professionally. The type who sit at a bar on a nice Saturday at the end of March, the first nice weekend all year, is the kind that take their bar sitting and beer drinking serious. I ordered the gin and tonic and the bartender said, “Better weather must be coming, people ordering gin and tonics all of a sudden.” -”I didn’t know Gin and Tonics were seasonal,” I said. The bartender nodded like one of those old sages, “People want to drink gin and tonics when the weather’s good. I like them in the summer. Just the thing.” I didn’t know I was going to learn important lessons here so I just replied, “I was just in the mood for one.”

So now we all know kids, there are certain sure fire signs of spring: the groundhog not seeing his shadow, flower buds appearing on red maple trees, the song of the titmouse and now we have the increased ordering of gin and tonics.

I drank my drink and left. I was there for ten minutes.

Will I come back: Probably not. The decor just killed me. Nothing wrong with a run down joint, but this didn’t have much appeal to me. If Bartender Brian wants to take me for dinner in the restaurant area, I could be convinced, but I will walk through the bar quick like.

Gallagher’s: #8 on the Tour

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The Bar: Gallagher’s

The Address 97 West Boylston St

The price: 3:75 (cheapest so far, you pay for what you get, but still it was under four bucks for a 12 ounce gin and tonic, you got a problem with that?)

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: No. Because he didn’t have any to offer. The friendly guy behind the bar said, “Now I can’t give you a lime, because we don’t have any. There is a lime shortage. Can’t afford it. It’s in the paper, the T and G had a thing about it. Its like three dollars for two limes. The weather was terrible in Florida, they have no limes. All the bars around are going to be hurting for limes.” This I didn’t know about, but boy how he told me. He spoke with speed and conviction, I was going to believe him that there are no limes in Worcester, damn you global warming!!!!

What was the type of gin: The bartender asked me if I wanted Tanqueray or well and I said well would do.

What was the gin and tonic like: It had a lot of ice and I don’t know if the well gin was flavorless or that what I like about gin and tonics is the lime, but man it was flavorless. Had a kick. It just had nothing that made me pleased in the mouth when I drank. It was 3.75 and that means it don’t need to taste like nothing but a buzz. It did that fine.

The Joint: This is a small place. Smaller than my living room. There is a bar with 10 or so stools and three tables. That’s it. Don’t have to worry about that evil bar kitchen infecting the gestalt of the place, there’s no room. It has two Bud neon signs in the place. One is a Bud Man neon sign, and that means hip cred. There are two flat screens giving Keno and another bar gambling game. There is sports on, the Sox were playing. It is brightly lit, though that might be because it was a slow Wednesday night, and it is nice to be at a bar where there is the local paper, and wonder of wonders, you have enough light to read it.

General Impressions: While you read this, sing to yourself the Joe Walsh song, “Life’s been good to me so far,” because that’s one of the songs I heard there and that is how I felt about being there. The bar’s been good to me so far. There were three other people here on the eight o’clock Wednesday night, but it didn’t feel empty. There was a guy with a beer and a whiskey and a couple, who knew the bartender’s name (or as we call them, regulars). They seemed to be having a swell time.

The music was loud and classic. Classic Rock! You have to write Classic Rock in capitals, because it is its own State of Mind. I walked in and there was Neil Young’s Rockin the Free World (the g missing in the word Rocking for a sense of irony) and I felt warm and comforted. By the time I had my drink well in hand, the song was now the epic “Life’s Been Good to Me So Far.” The guy in the couple went up to the juke box machine The woman of the couple spent the time he was away silently singing along to the song. I didn’t know I was a lip reader, but I am sure she was silently saying, “My Masarati goes 185, I lost my license, and now I don’t drive.” During the momentous guitar break, she was keeping the beat with her hand and duck walking her head back and forth. It’s a hell of a song. He came back and she stopped this personal performance, and I was upset, she should have kept on going, the hell with the man. Just sing along and have a great time whether the old man is around or not. Love your Classic Rock.

When what I heard next from the jukebox machine was Kid Rock, I knew the getting out was rapidly approaching. I have done eight stops in this tour of every Worcester bar and now I have come across Kid Rock’s dulcet tones twice, is this a harbinger of future doom? I hope not.

Will I come back: Yeah, not a strong affirmative, but I liked it here. It was pleasant, it was comfortable. When I left, the bartender thanked me for coming. How odd is that?  I could see myself going here when I was single. This was a place to kill time in. This would be a great place to sit by myself and be sad and morose. I could be happily lonely in this joint. It is small enough to feel safe. And let’s be fair. under four bucks for a cocktail. Sign me up.