Jak’s Pub – #31 on the Tour

The Bar: Jak’s Pub (This used to be the Red Baron Bar for forever)

The Address 536 Main Street

The price 5 bucks

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: Yes and he put it in

What was the type of gin Just well.

What was the gin and tonic like: It hit me at first as way too strong and then it mellowed out, as if it was not mixed well. But I had a nice conversation with the bartender/owner, so it tasted just fine when I was done.

The Joint: I am predisposed to this place and not in a good way. Over a decade ago I worked right next to the location when it was the Red Baron and it was a dive like you read about. I would be going into work at 8:30 am and if I got a chance to peek in, I would be blessed with a view of a half dozen or more willing citizens occupying the stools, drinking breakfast. As employees of the nearby business we were told not to be found there. But it was bought by a guy in 2011 who made a go of it, but he had to close for a while this year, because he works in Boston and he is the only employee, so couldn’t make it work. It has been up again now for three weeks. It only had two other people in the bar at the time. But the place is nice. Solid, clean bar. Bar in the back, you have to pass the pool table to get to it, but you won’t feel too winded.

General Impressions  There was not a lot going on, only two customers there at nine on a Friday. (I can’t seem to find a busy bar it appears) The bartender asked if I was coming from the play. I guess the Hanover had a play going. I just said I was happy the place was open and wanted to try it. He started talking to me. He told me he was the owner Rob. He bought the place in 2011 and tried to make a go but he now works in Boston and he was trying to do it all by himself. He was closed for a while and opened again three weeks before. He talked about how this might be the time to start again. He talked about creating a safe place, a place people want to come back to. The key is sticking with it. Just being open and letting people know he is there. That its not the Red Barron, its a nice bar you can go to before or after a play or concert. He was earnest and I want him to do well. I mentioned that the pool table kind of breaks the flow of the bar and he smiled. He likes the pool table. He practices when he is at the bar by himself. He hasn’t gotten better, but he he keeps on trying.

Rob said, he wasn’t looking for everyone in Worcester to come to him, just the people in the nearby two blocks, that’s all he wants. There is a lot of folk in that small stretch of real estate, but they just need to know he is there. I love that notion. He’s looking for those close to know there is a safe haven to have a drink. To drink before a play, after a play. After class. Before class even, you rebel. Create a place for people who are around to go to. This location, with the Hanover and with the satellite for the Community College coming in, is a place where people can feel safe and comfortable. That’s his hope. I like his concept of the local.

Amount of Time in the Joint: 20 minutes (pleasant conversation for most of it)

Will I come back Yes. Next time I go to the Hanover. Next time I am in downtown for downtime,  I will go there. More than I liked being there (which I did) but because I want a place in that location to work. I want a good bar to go to after seeing some concert or some theater. I want to feel that Worcester has these options. I want this to work. I want to have choices to go to in downtown. This might be a more political motive than I usually have, but the hell with it, I love this town, I want it to work. And good places to have a drink are a part of its success.



MB Lounge – #27 on the tour

The Bar: The MB Lounge (The Male Box, baby)

The Address 40 Grafton Street

The price 7.50 (I have left the cheap gin mills where a fiver can take care of a fella, welcome to the pricey part of the bar landscape) He did ask if I wanted a small or a big and I picked a large, which was in a pint glass.

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime He did. He was a very friendly bartender.

What was the type of gin I got well, which made the seven fifty a tad more surprising.

What was the gin and tonic like It was fine. Nothing fantastic, but it was alright. Sometimes you pay a cover to get into a joint, sometimes you buy a drink and that’s your ticket to the show.

The Joint The first thing you have to realize is how inconspicuous the bar is from the outside. I have gone by it countless times and didn’t know there was a bar there. The windows are darkened and the MB Lounge sign is subtle. It looked like it was closed. I went in and I was assaulted by color. In a good way. This was 8:30 on a Wednesday and ten or fifteen were there. There were setting up for some kind of event because the disco ball was spinning and the colored lights were going about. The bar has tables and a good sized bar. The bar area was full and I had to take my drink to a side table, which is a decent place for me to watch what was going on. As I was leaving more and more people were coming in, it looked like people were coming for the event, whatever it was, there was a microphone set up by the DJ.

General Impressions I don’t know when the last time I was at a gay bar. I am not gay and its been years since a friend took me to one back in New York. I didn’t know what to expect. I found a very nice attitude, with people talking and chatting. It was a nice place where people can be comfortable. The goofy lights just added to it. The bartender shouted out something about Ethel Merman and I felt relieved. If I stayed longer, would Ms Garland’s name been mentioned? I hope so. This was the perfect place to go to after my stop at Cisero’s, which was the bar I went to before this.

Time Spent in the bar: 20 minutes

Will I come back Yeah. I have friends who would like the place and the way you can be seen and still feel yourself. Its a hoot.

Beatnik’s – #29 on the Tour

The Bar: Beatniks

The Address 433 Park Ave

The price 6.50 (man, I am beginning to feel nostalgic for the six dollar cocktail. The last two bars I went to were eight dollars and seven fifty. Welcome to high cost of well drinks)

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime Yes he did, in a nervous fashion, but more on that in a moment.

What was the type of gin He asked if I wanted Bombay, and I said no, just well,, and he said Well, I can give you well. I hate to say this, but more on this behavior further in this tourist log.

What was the gin and tonic like He asked me was it good (never had anyone ask me this before) And I told him it was good. It was. A good amount of ice, not too much, but enough to keep it cold. It was a wee bit on the weak side, but a fine run of the mill highball.

The Joint I have been meaning to get in here. They do have cool events and the vibe is something I heard about it. But as I was entering I saw the sign saying there was going to be karaoke this night. My thought was “Crap. Run Dante, run away.” But I am a professional anonymous blogger, and I have my pride (yeah, I keep it in my glove box) so I went in. Its a good sized place. There is two areas, one with bars and rat pack era booths. Then we have the dance/performance space. That space had lights flashing and music pumping, but no one singing to projected lyrics. This was a good moment. I like a well attended bar, but I love when no one shows up for karaoke even more. It’s like sing-a-long Christmas to me. The place had a nice cool kid vibe and comfortable.  There was art on the walls, as well as gig posters for events that happened at Beatniks. I heard that there is a new owner, but that things have not changed, and that’s a good thing, because its a cool place.

General Impressions My impression? Well, let’s slow this down, bring up the lights, so I can sit on my stool and talk to each and everyone of you.

For the first three months of this blog I had forty five views. That’s it. But one of those was Victor Infante from the Telegram. He wrote a little piece about this blog and now two and a half weeks later, this blog now 2200 views. Thank you Victor. When he wrote this, I was excited, but I also was worried that I would be found out. That people at bars would be looking for me. But I went to 7 more bars and none of that happened. Until now…….

Let me just say that in the land of keeping things on the DL, I do a lousy job. I mean, I go into a bar, and ask for a gin and tonic, and I am specific that I want well gin and then I drink it, look intently at the other bar goers, like I am an odd stalker and then I leave. I am the worst secret agent ever. But that’s the mission, that I chose to accept (Mr. Phelps)

Now let’s go back to my time at Beatniks. There was only a few people there, which was alright because no one was singing Karaoke. I asked for my gin and tonic and the bartender asked for my ID. Now, I am a guy in his forties who looks like a guy who is in his forties. There is no chance I am a nineteen year old with bad skin trying to get a buzz on. I go on that he made my day thinking I was young, but it was weird and he looked nervous. He was nervous when I asked for well gin. Then he asked after my first sip if it was good. It was good, but what a strange question. He was nervous around me. Usually people would be nervous around me when I was single and I would ask them out on a date, not for someone to make me a cocktail.

The place was a comfortable joint, but then as I was leaving and I went to my car to write up my notes, it hit me, he got my real name, he seemed nervous about me getting a well gin and tonic. Now I could be wrong, but I talked to a bartender friend and he was kind of sure that he figured who I was and why I was there. So the question is, will he give out my name? Will he say he sussed me out? And then the real question, who cares? I could be wrong. He might not have been nervous with me, but yet….

Will I come back Despite his non cool reaction, the place is cool. I liked it. I hope to not come back when there is karaoke. That’s always a rule for me. But I can see myself going back there.

Cisero’s – #26 on the tour

The Bar: Cisero’s

The Address 17 Suffolk Street

The price 3.25

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime No, and I didn’t get one.

What was the type of gin: It was a little known limited distillation made from the tears of the undeserving (you know, well gin)

What was the gin and tonic like It was in a ten ounce plastic cup.with a few unhappy cubes of ice. It tasted like gin I suppose. But it could have also tasted of Generic Hooch. On talking about this visit on the tour afterwards  I was told people don’t get cocktails at Cisero’s. They get beer and shots. Look at me, I am an exotic anomaly.  

The Joint. This is a biker bar. People with bikes go here There is a lot of talk about what goes there, and what the peopl who go there are like. On this Sunday that I went in, there were five or six guys in motorcycle leathers drinking and talking. There was a pool table. There was a sign saying that anyone selling drugs in the bathroom would be scratched. There was an odor. The place had a funk going on. .There was a need for a good cleaning.

General Impressions: I have to say, I was scared going in. I mean I am a middle aged hoity toity fellow who will order a Benedictine and Brandy on a whim (hell, I am the kind of a guy who uses the term “on a whim”)This is not my natural habitat. But I went in and ordered and kept my talk and my eyes to myself. The guys, only guys there, were willing to bring me into conversation. Simple things, there was a Walking Dead marathon on the TV and I was able to answer their questions about the show. Like I said, I am the guy who knows about Walking Dead on a whim. One guy at the bar, with a prosthetic metal leg and enough attitude to survive any type of apocalypse, looked at the screen with just a little bit of disdain and said, “I don’t get it. Why do the zombies make noise when they’re coming. Why do they make any noise? They’re dead. They don’t breathe.” I looked at him, the biker sage and said, “Yeah, you’re right.” Truth found in a biker bar.,

Will I come back Are you kidding?

Patsie Dugan’s – #15 on the Tour (yes, I am going out of order)

The Bar: Patsie Dugan’s. This was Emerald Isle. When it closed they hastily put up a new sign with the new name but there is still Emerald Isle signage visible. Nothing changed from what I hear

The Address 49 Millbury Street

The price Six dollars

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She did

What was the type of gin It was well gin.

What was the gin and tonic like It was strong. Oh friends, it was strong. The bartender made up the drink like it was a dare. She took out the pint glass, Put in ice. Poured in an inch or two of gin. Looked at it, poured some more gin in. Looked one more time and put more gin. There was enough space in the glass for a tiny baptismal amount of tonic to be anointed upon it. I just stared at it, like I was given the lady or the tiger to chose between. I mean I do like a stiff drink, but I also like being to walk and breathe and function. My choice was to ignore the drink and let the ice melt. I was not going to stand afterwards if I didn’t. So I just sat there waiting for ice to melt. After about ten minutes the bartender came over to me with a concerned face. “Is the drink okay?” That was sweet, it was nice for her to notice I wasn’t going near the thing.  I lied and said, “Oh its fine, I’m just a slow drinker.”  I eventually drank, and it was a lot of poor gin mocking me. I drank it and hobbled over to another bar where I had a diet coke.

The Joint I don’t know if this is the way it is every day, but it struck me as sad. The place is large, with a bar area, that is slightly tight, and a dance area and then a large dining area. The only place people sat was the bar area. The dining area didn’t just seem slow, but unused, like it was a prop to a restaurant scene in a play. People were drinking this Wednesday night, but too many. They talked to each other, but mostly they looked at their phones. Tapping away, smiling at what they scrolled upon.  No one was eating, just drinking, it didn’t seem like anyone was working the kitchen, if there was a working kitchen. And all of that space not used mocked the present at what this place once was but isn’t anymore.

General Impressions I drank my drink slowly and watched a dull scene. I am sure that there are times when this is a lively joint, but it wasn’t this day. It was a way station, the bar you were at when you were waiting for your mates to come and then go to some place better. I thought the bartender was nice for noticing me not touching my drink, but that’s it for me liking it. Not much of a vibe or a personality, just a place that used to be filled with people, and now a place where you can get a powerful glass of booze.

Will I come back No.

Rivalry Sports Pub – #26 on the Tour

The Bar: Rivalry Sports Bar – this was the location for the old bar Jeff’s. Maybe this is me but I think Rivalry is a pretty lame name for a bar. I mean,, Rivalry to whom?  Are we just against everyone in general? Is it a rivalry between sports bars and cocktail lounges? Which would be kind of cool to see. There used to be a bar in town called the Alibi Bar, and that was the top for bad bar names, so Rivalry will have to try harder next time.

The Address 274 Shrewsbury Street.

The price 6 bucks

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She didn’t ask me and I just got it, which was nice. I was going to take this category out of my review and then she went and gave me one without me making a peep

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

What was the gin and tonic like It was fine, a little on the weak side, but it was alright, There is something to be said for low expectations, you are never totally disappointed.

The Joint It feels like someone saw a picture of a 1960s men’s club interior and said, “That. I want my bar to look like that.” There is wood paneling. There are black padded stools and chair. There is a section where there are black leather couches. This is the place you can imagine the wannabe Gilded Age Industrialists to sit and drink their port and smoke their cigars, consulting their pocket watches, waiting for an important telegram.

General Impressions This was a Sunday at six in the afternoon. No one was there, but the bartender, the owner of the place and another guy. The other guy was waxing nostalgic about the times where cops wouldn’t pull you over when you were half in the bag, as long as you were heading home. Now they pull you over, can you believe that?

The bartender was nice and responsive. She was friendly. The bar had on the Sox game, they lost (natch). The owner was telling the bartender to offer a kind a beer they can’t seem to move for a discount, though it still wasn’t moving, what’s wrong with this beer?

I was talking to Bartender Bart about the bar and he told me it was kind of amazing to see on a weekend night. Sometimes the bar would be wall to wall packed and then in an hour, it would be empty. The tide of people just moving on to the next thing, looking for some new thrill, or at least the next one. Me too, I was gone in twenty minutes.

Will I come back No, nothing wrong, Just not for me. The place is clean though, pretty as a picture, just not a picture I want to cut out of magazine and pin on my chalkboard.

The Sidecar Discussions #1 (The Obligatory Lime)

I guess I should put in a few things to explain the tour and how I am doing it, which will be these Sidecar Discussions.

Why do I always state in my reviews whether they asked me if I wanted a lime? This comes from my expectations. I just expect to get a lime. That’s it. But the first few places I went to asked if I wanted one and I was surprised and a tiny bit put out. I talked to Bartender Brian and asked if I should ask for a lime or shouldn’t one just be given, and he said it should just be given. Hence, that is why I put it into the review.

But Bartender Brian changed his mind a few months later, “Dante, even I’m asking if they want a garnish before I put them in, because people are getting upset when I just put in the lime. They refuse the drink and I’m forced to make them a new one and get rid of the one I just made. It’s easier just to ask.”

So one of my assumptions has been shattered and I will probably get rid of  that from future reviews. If everyone asks, then why bother reporting it?