August 18th, 2009

A lotta history, a little booze


Boston imbibers usually like it the other way around, which is why I’m damn appreciative of last night’s great turnout for my talk at the Boston Shaker, “A brief history of drinking in Boston.” We covered almost 400 years in an hour and a half, and we sampled Ward Eights and Maharaja’s Revenges along the way. Not bad.

From Coles Tavern (Boston’s first bar), to the Bunch of Grapes tavern (known for its punch), to the New England rum industry, to the rise of saloons and statewide prohibition (that’s right — Massachusetts was dry for roughly 20 years starting in the 1850s), to the ice trade and Boston’s role in the birth of cocktails, to Beacon Hill speakeasies in the 1920s, to the popularity of tiki bars in the 1950s, to today’s revival of mixology … Boston has a rich and often conflicted drinking history. You’ll likely hear more about it here as my book-learnin’ progresses.

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8 Responses to “A lotta history, a little booze”

  1. Frederic

    I regret that my DJing gig overlapped with your talk. Hmm… Beacon Hill speakeasies? I know that my book about the History of Central Square has some 1920s Cambridge speakeasies listed.

  2. ljclark

    Next time, Fred! I’m going to have to take a look at this book of yours. Where you spinning?

  3. Chris Amirault

    Fascinating stuff, Lauren — and nice tipples! Thanks for a great presentation. Cheers, Chris

  4. ljclark

    Thanks a million, Chris!

  5. sushiesque

    Thanks for a lovely talk. I have one factoid to offer:

    “The locals called it Duck Village, but not because of any quacking. The tiny mishmash of streets outside Union Square in Somerville was a hiding place during Prohibition, a jumble of multifamily homes where a man could duck authorities on the hunt for speakeasy patrons.”

  6. ljclark

    Wow, I love it, sushiesque. Must investigate that further.

  7. Br. Cleve

    Glad to hear the event was a success. Hope there’s a reprise at some point (part 2?). Sorry I missed it, but I’ve just spent two weeks trying to track down Batavia Arrack in Indonesia. Trying to find a packy in an Islamic country is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Not much internet there either. But plenty of birds and monkeys to squack along with the Martin Denny records I played by the tiki bar/pool!

  8. ljclark

    Ah, the stirring adventures of Brother Cleve. (Thanks for the shout-out from Tokyo, too.) Not to fear, there will be a reprise of some sort…

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