The Press Box – #22 on the Tour

The Bar: The Press Box. This is a cool name for a bar, in my humble touristy opinion. You have two of my favorite aspects of bardom, obvious sports references and a hint of the literate. It isn’t just a sports bar, we are referencing writers here folks. I guess the only way to make the name of the bar even better is to rechristen it, the Press Box for Women Writers with Loose Morals (yeah, a little too verbose, but its a work in progress)

The Address 536 Lincoln Street

The price: 5.75.

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: He did.

What was the type of gin: I got well, because I asked for it by name. Not that well is a name, its more of a location.

What was the gin and tonic like: It was a pint glass with a hell of a lot of ice. Not too much flavor, but it it was alright.

The Joint: This is an old school bar. It is on the second floor of a building. You have to come in from the back, which probably suits some customers just fine. The place is comfortable sized. It has a section with a good amount of tables. There are newspapers and books around to peruse. It is brightly lit and the bartender was quite friendly. The place was this side of grungy, but it was presentable enough and had a comfortable feeling.

General Impressions: I don’t know this answer, I am just asking, but are there bars that never are busy? This is the first bar in my tour (22 bars so far) where I have been in before. The first time was a Wednesday at seven and it was practically empty. And now it was a Friday a little before eleven at night and it was practically empty. Are there places that can survive without a rush? Can a slow trickle make a place viable?

There were three guys at the bar pleasantly annoyed at the Sox for losing another. There was a foursome at a table playing cards, I don’t know but I think they were playing Bridge. This is cool, I haven’t seen anyone at a bar playing cards yet on my tour, this is a perfect thing to do at a low key bar, I think. The bartender talked to his regulars, got me to add my two cents on the Sox’s miserable year (I don’t follow sports but since I’ve been on this gin and tonic kick, I have learned a few key phrases of disgust toward our local team that keeps me in good stead.)  I like how it was bright in there, you could read a book. I like that there seemed to be no attitude, no pretensions. A good solid bar where you can hang out with friends at a table or be by yourself and drink your drink and read the paper.

Will I come back Yeah. I think so. If I am in the area. If I want to chat with a friend or just read a book. Its not convenient for me with where I live, but the place was comfy.

 

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The Cosmopolitan Club – #21 on the Tour

The Bar: The Cosmopolitan Club

The Address: 96 Hamilton Street

The price Five dollars

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: He did and I got it, but he missed putting it in and it fell out and hit the bar. He gave me another, which added double the lime flavored goodness, score!!!

What was the type of gin: It was well.

What was the gin and tonic like: It was alright. Nothing spectacular, but it didn’t coat my mouth with a film of despair, so there is that to recommend it.

The Joint: The is the unknown bar. Several people asked me what the latest bar I hit for this tour and I said, The Cosmopolitan Club and not a one ever heard of it. One thought I made it up, or perhaps the gin and tonic was dosed and I hallucinated a mirage of a joint. That’s the thing with this place, it seems like this is the prototypical neighborhood bar, it caters to those who can walk to it and pretty much no one else. There is a lot to say in praise of a bar that is for the local environ. It is long and thin and is dark. Its a bar. The place has a good liquor selection and the beers sound interesting, not just Buds and Coors here, which is nice. The bartender was welcoming. It fell like a lot of other neighborhood bars (once again, not a bad thing)

General Impressions: It was quiet on this Sunday night, with three people in the bar, they all knew one another by name. I focused on the Sox game, or so it seemed. The bartender was a bit of talker. A raconteur, if you will. He was talking to a couple at the bar. First he said that people should know that he hates Christmas. Why do you have to pretend to like a present some one gave you, or they give you a present and you don’t give them one. Yeah, Christmas sucks. His favorite holiday is Black Friday, that’s his holiday because its a present that he wants, that he buys. The way it should be. Actually, he goes on Thanksgiving, because the Walmarts in Connecticut are open Thanksgiving day. Last time, he was three sheets to the wind driving down to the store. It was Thanksgiving so he celebrated with Wild Turkey. He likes being an asshole at the stores during Black Friday, blocking people, walking slow, taking the last thing not because he wants it but that the lady behind him wants it. That’s one of the best parts.

Soon, one of the guys at the bar said goodbye and walked home. Another went out to smoke a cigarette. It got quiet in there. I finished my drink and left.

Will I come back: There is something to be said about a little known place that caters to the people around it. I like that. But I don’t live around it. The beer and liquor selection is tempting, but its a bar for the neighbors, and barring what the old Narragansett Commercials state, I am not their neighbor, I am a tourist here. So I will say no.

 

The Banner – #20 on the Tour

The Bar The Banner Bar and Grill

The Address 112 Green Street (wow, this is the third bar in a row on Green Street, this is actually looking like a tour or at least a crawl, so I better find another street for the next one, ust to spice things up)

The price: 5.50

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: This is the first time that I didn’t sit at the bar, and the first time I brought a Virgil with me, I had my friend Epicure Eric in tow. We sat at a table, for six on Sunday, it was the last open table, and I just did a fast order to the waitress, where I said well gin with a lime.

What was the type of gin It was well.

What was the gin and tonic like: I had a fun time at the joint with Eric and the gin tasted good, maybe it was the mood, maybe it was a good cocktail, probably a little bit of both.

The Joint: Short Order Steve said this is one of his favorite places, so when our first choice for food and a drink was packed, I suggested this place. I told Eric that I was going to do the tour and the rule of course is that I just get a gin and tonic and nothing else, no second drink, no food. Eric smiled at me, like I was such a silly boy.

This is a nice place. A restaurant bar. The seats were comfortable and there were a lot of flatscreens around with sports showing. I said to Eric that it was a sports bar. Eric said it felt like an Irish Bar. He then asked me what makes a sports bar and an irish bar, and I paused, I dont know. I really don’t know. Can someone help me with this. I mean you can watch sports at  an Irish bar, and I am sure there is more than one sports bar where a happy drunk would sing out a broken rendition of Black Velvet Band.

We got our drinks and I looked over at the bar and someone got the onion rings looked good. Eric said we can have some. I told him my rules. He ordered onion rings and when they came he took pleasure in watching me instantly tuck in. They were delicious. Eric liked how they didn’t use bread crumbs and I liked how you can taste the onions. I guess if I was going to break a rule, I might as well do it with something delicious.

General Impressions There was a lot of people there, but it didn’t feel packed. It was a well run joint, we got our food and drinks in a timely fashion. There was a couple odd things that happened. The big one was the dance of the competing waitresses. When we sat we got a red haired waitress and she got our drink orders. A minute later a brunette waitress came by and asked if she get out drinks, we said we were already taken care of. Then the red head waitress took our food order and a minute later the brunette reappeared to see if we wanted any food. This happened two more times, first the red head and then soon after the brunette. Obviously there was a fight over tables, it was slightly strange.

The other thing was when we were walking into the bar the door man was staring at us, or at least it looked like he was looking at us, but then he said, “They’re towing my car” and ran out into the street. When we saw him as we were leaving, we asked him about his car, and he said the tow truck wasn’t taking his truck, but was parking so he can go to the Banner for dinner. Isn’t that sweet? But let me tell you, the look of anger on the door guy when we were coming in made me feel slightly off.

Will I come back Yes. I think this might be a place for beer and fries. It was a good welcoming place, despite the Waitress Roller Derby Throw Down.

 

Union Tavern – #19 on the Tour

The Bar: Union Tavern – this is where Creegan’s Pub used to be.

The Address 65 Green St.

The price Seven Dollars. This again was me making a mistake, the bartender upselled very smartly and I, who should know better, fell for it. He said, “Tanqueray alright?” and I said sure instead of saying “Just well drink please.” I looked and well drinks are five fifty, so there you go.

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

What was the type of gin Tanqueray, dammit. I got to follow my own rules.

What was the gin and tonic like: It was good, it was in a pint glass, it tasted decent. Nothing to fight over or be put through a window for, but it was good.

The Joint A nice open place with a good sized bar. The place was clean and presentable with darts and pool in the back. The front is for drinking, fella. The crowd was mostly young, mostly town. They talked about cars, the demise of the Summer National, how a guy on the street was talking nonsense about how rare and powerful his car was. The bar had many many bottles of flavored vodka, (Though the bartender said to a regular, that he didn’t care for flavored vodka seemed to be against the very idea of it. Which was a big plus for the guy and the joint, having a bartender have an opinion on the product. He made a drink for a woman with one of them and he tried to make it better, by suggesting that he can add other spirits to it to make it taste more palatable, though the woman was happy with what she got.)

General Impressions A bar for Worcester folk in their twenties and thirties, they felt happy being there and talking wormtown to wormtowners. In the last bar I went to I was waxing sad that I was too young for the crowd, now I am too old for this place, when will I find a place made for a finicky middle aged person such as myself?

The big event discussed when I was there, was a bar fight in the place next door. A guy was put through a plate glass window. The bartender wasn’t in the bar when I entered, he was at the other bar looking at the security footage that explained the whole event of the bar fight. He narrated it to his regulars, he even began to act it out. As if the back of the bar was center stage, he was performing the one man show – Kid through a Plate Glass Window. Who needs Spaulding Gray or Eric Bogosian, when we are blessed with the bartenders of Worcester? I was listening to the tale of bar tabs and retribution and broken windows, but then I realized, this is not why I come to bars. To hear of the misfortune of others. Well, not that much, at any right. I finished my drink and left the bartender in mid performance.

Will I come back: No, it was a fine place with a good selection, but this was not my crowd. The wonderful thing about having so many bars is that you can have choices of where you can melt into and where you can stand out for a little bit, and leave.

 

Blackstone Tap – #4 on the Tour

The Bar: Blackstone Tap

The Address 81 Water Street

The price Six dollars

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime Yes, and I got one

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

What was the gin and tonic like It was a pint glass with a hell of a lot of ice, jammed with it. It tasted okay, nothing memorable either way. This is from a visit I had two months ago, and I just can’t seem to remember all that much.

The Joint: Let it be known, I have a thing for places that have exposed brick for walls. This place made me happy in that regard. They had all the cool bar things, like special drink machines and neon signs. It is a big place with games in the back. A bunch of young men were playing darts in the back, being louder than there number would suggest.

General Impressions: I suppose the fact that it took me two months to write this up is indication that the place to compell good or ill. It was a good middle of the road place. Nothing spectacular, a little dull in the way that it feels like a lot of sports bars. I had a drink at a bar, and that pretty much is it. 

The bartender was animated. Excited about the Red Sox opening day in Boston. He loudly told the guy who was near him (so near he didn’t have to shout, but this is Sox opening day and one must be boisterous) that he was going, he didn’t have a ticket, just to go and drink and be part of the scene. He was the only bit of excitement there.

Will I come back: Maybe yes, it is such a neutral place that I don’t mind if someone suggest we go there. If someone suggests another place, and not this, I would be cool with that too. What can I say, in the Land of Zero to Ten Rating Scales, you have just entered the Number Five.

Madigans Again – #18 on the Tour

The Bar: Madigan’s Again

The Address 545 Southwest Cutoff

The price Four Dollars for a twelve ounce glass

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime Not only did he not ask if I wanted one, I didn’t get one.

What was the type of gin: This must be said that Madigan’s is not a place for mixed drinks. They only had 30 liquor bottles total behind the bar. This is a beer place. The bartender sheepishly said, “We only have Tanqueray, that alright?” Sure, sure.

What was the gin and tonic like I like lime in my Gin and Tonics. But it was pretty alright. He didn’t kill it with too many ice cubes. A nice drink to finish off a tough work week.

The Joint: This is a tiny tiny place that caters to their people. There are darts and that seems to be what the place is about. I was the only person there when I came in. The bartender was friendly, we spoke about golf for a bit (yeah, me such a golfer, feh). The place is pretty run down and it feels that that is the way they like it. A clean pristine veneer would feel weird. This is a old bar for older folk, got a problem with that?

General Impressions: This such a little box. The guy tending bar was playing some bar video game when I came in, but was happy to serve me. Then an older couple came in, they got their drinks without asking. They both had plastic holders to keep their keno cards. They played their cards, they waited to win. They kept on talking to the bartender. Another guy came and he gave the couple hugs and they talked about friends and what they were all doing. He got his drink without asking as well.

Right before I left, watching everyone laughing and hugging and being happy and belonging, I suddenly became melancholy, which is what caused the next paragraph.

The thing about bars is that the first time you go in, you are the stranger. You are the other. You are the person that no one knows. When THEY come in, THEY are greeted like old friends, slapped on the back, given their preferred beer without even asking, allowed to place themselves on their appointed seats like royalty. You have to ask for a drink, and don’t forget to be polite. Don’t forget to not look at anyone too long. Don’t forget that you are a guest here. You are paying for your seat, but that doesn’t give you rights to the stool you are sitting. This is a rental. You are a rental, you are the face in the back of the crowd. You will finish your drink and leave, this is not your home, this is not your place. Every time you go into a new bar is a lesson in loneliness. You are the only one not knowing anyone.Everything is new and unfamiliar: The stool, the set up, the way the bar feels on your resting arm. The only thing vaguely familiar is the gin and tonic in front of you. Enjoy your drink, leave a tip as you move on to something or somewhere you can call your own.

Will I come back: No, it was a small little joint, not mine. For a place where people play darts and keno, this is a fine place to put down stakes, just not for me.

The Arcadia Club of Worcester -The White Eagle – #17 on the Tour

The Bar: Arcadia Club of Worcester – The White Eagle.

The Address: 120 Green Street.

The price: Four Dollars

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime– No, hell i was lucky I got a drink, let’s not quibble over bar fruit, shall we?

I should explain. When I came in on a Sunday at 8, there were two people working, but the woman bartender was out front smoking a cigarette so the honor of waiting on me was given to a young man with welcoming look (I’m sure that won’t last long) I asked him for a gin and tonic and I swear there was a look of panic on his face. He went over to the bottles behind the bar and stared. And stared. And stared again. He took out a pint glass and looked at the bottles again and hoped something would come to him like inspiration. He leaned into the ear of the now returned female bartender and asked her something. She shrugged and pointed and he made me a drink. He put it in front of me and said, “Sorry, I’ve only been here for three weeks.” I smiled graciously.

But let me just say, what the hell? Is the Gin and Tonic such a strange exotic concoction that after three weeks he didn’t come across such a thing? As I go on this tour I am seeing that the gin and tonic can be perceived as a foreign invader into this land of Bud Lights and straight whiskeys. Poor gin and tonic, you need a support group and a public awareness campaign. Buck up little gin and tonic, we still love you.

What was the type of gin – Whatever the confused young bartender found and poured, I think it was gin, yeah, I’m sure it was gin. Let’s call it gin.

What was the gin and tonic like: It was fine. I had already had a few drinks at another place, which is not fair for me tasting the drink here, but there you go.

The Joint: I was there only briefly, just to have my drink and go. The place was large. Big and boxy. More spacious than it needed to be. It had the feel of a waiting room. Waiting for what is truly up to you. There were several rooms moving back. The ceilings were high, the place had a strange cold lighting. This felt like a set for a low budget movie where the seedy main character would come in to meet someone, have a drink, start a bar fight, move to the next set.

General Impressions: This was one where I didn’t even know it was a bar. For years, when I was driving on Green Street, I would see the cool old school sign for the Arcadia- White Eagle, I had no idea what the hell it was, I thought it was a welfare hotel with nifty signage. But  I was talking to Short Order Steve and he told me about it, how he would pass it to go to one of his favorite places, The Banner, and he never had the nerve to go in. I had a few, so I didn’t care. I went in and went out. Kind of like the kid who was dared to go into Old Lady McGuillicudy’s Haunted House – no one has ever come out alive. Well I went in, the place was fine and I left.

Will I come back: Maybe if I was younger, and wanted to be cool and authentic, but I don’t need that. It was alright, and then we move on.