Oldest Pub in New York
Paul Topping

Paul Topping

Fraunces Tavern 1719…… Sons of the Revolution (New York)

To sit in this tavern where American patriots secretly met centuries ago, where some of the British/ American peace negotiations took place, where George Washington had an office, puts you at a key location at the start of a great nation, the USA.

Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern, on the corner of Pearl and Broad Street, The Financial area of New York is said to be the oldest tavern/bar in New York. Earlier, it was called the Queens head, a government building and an office. It has had numerous fires and rebuilds and was cannon-balled by the British and bombed in 1975 where four people died and fifty were injured. A Puerto Rican organization stated they did the bombing in retaliation for an American attack on their people.

Fraunces Tavern

We head over to the pub that is listed as having live music but are told on arrival that it only takes place on Saturdays. There are multiple rooms in the place, and each one has a themed colour. I try to go upstairs where there is a famous dining area, where one assumes some of the decisions on the revolution against the British took place. The friendly bar tenders response to my question “do you have Guinness or Irish beer?” Not that I assumed that I was in an Irish pub but America has over 31.1 million people who believe they are of Irish origin. He then told me the pub did import an Irish beer directly so I had one or two of what they call “pints”. For an Englishman “a pint is a pint”, which is 568ml but in the USA a pint is 433ml.

For Jezzabel it has to be red wine, so I order a glass. It arrives and its a big glass. I find New York expensive when going out for a meal and or a drink. When in fact, in many cases when you get the wine or the food the portions or glasses are larger than those I’ve been used to. As we sit in a typical U-shaped wooden booth its clear that this is a busy pub with so much laughter and bar chat with traditional friendly bar staff.

Whilst old pubs are quite common in England and Scotland and there are many that can trace their origins back to the thirteen hundreds, I’m just fascinated about the history of the Fraunces, named after one of its many owners, Samuel Fraunces, of West Indies origin.

My next visit to the pub is on a Saturday and I’m looking forward to the live music. As I step in, there is a crowd but no real music, certainly not a live band. I ask the bar man about the Saturday music night and he informs that the band has not turned up.

The Whinging Pome Random Rule 230: “if you want good pub music you cannot beat the English pubs north of Newark on Trent”

I’m planning on going back to the tavern but not to hear any real music just wallow in the history.

Fraunces Tavern

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