One of the things that I always try to do when visiting a city is to have a drink at the oldest bar in town. So, what is the oldest bar in your town and how old is it? Any anecdotes about said bar are appreciated. Obviously there are several different criteria for what could be considered the oldest bar.
1. Same name and location for duration of existence.
I just did a bit of googling, and I was guessing that the Sportsman Lounge or Mel’s was the oldest continuously operating bar in Santa Barbara. It turns out that the Sportsman has been open since the day after prohibition, which would be 1933. Mel’s has been open since 1963, so it’s just a baby. I thought the Sportsman would not be that old due to it’s cheesy 1960’s decor.
2. Bar has moved locations, but has kept same name.
Joe’s Cafe is considered the oldest bar in SB, supposedly open since 1928. I don’t know how it was open during prohibition, however. It is known to generally have the strongest drinks in town. It’s bartenders and waitstaff have been probably working there since it opened. The bar has moved locations and was closed for over a year for earthquake retrofitting.
3. Location has been continuously operating as a bar, but has changed names.
EJ’s Cafe is at the former location of Joe’s, so I guess it would have the record in this category.
I know that this isn’t impressive by NYC or ahem, Dublin standards, but we are still proud of our bars here in Santa Barbara.
The Kamiya Bar in Asakusa is supposed to be Tokyo’s (and Japan’s) first (and oldest, since it’s still running) bar. However, there’s probably a shifty definition of the word ‘bar’ here, since I think people here were drinking before 1880.
Well, my town used to be Nottingham, and the Trip To Jerusalum is said to have been there at least since King Richard stopped by for a swift half on his way to the Holy Land.
Caveat There are about 100 pubs in England that claim to be the oldest pub in England. And very unlikely that it was a pub back then. But they make a fair case that it was there, a brewery, and making such brew available to travelers (whether or not King Richard) at that time.
The whole town I stayed at was mostly built in the 1600’s. The local was built in 1632. Beat that
I used to drink at the Cittie of York occasionally after work, which dates back to 1430 or so (in some format). The names been changed, the building has been burned down and its been refurbed a billion times though so pretty much everyone takes its “Oldest Pub in London” claim with a pinch of salt.
Built in 1847 (which is old for Houston), the building has been in public use for most of its existence. It’s called a “wine bar”–but that’s just because there’s no hard liquor license. Beer is also quite popular. Great juke box.
The Ice House (as a drinking establishment) is a Texas tradition. Back before electric refrigeration, the places selling block ice also offered milk, eggs & other consumables that benefited from cold storage. Eventually, they also sold beer. Ice houses tend to be quite informal & unpretentious, with many people sitting outside. Games of horseshoes & impromptu barbecues are common.
Here’s an NPR documentary on Texas Icehouses!
The West Alabama Ice House was open before Prohibition ended–but they just sold soda pop back then, I’m sure.