History on Tap

More than drinking happens behind the tavern door—these bars offer a window on the past.


Said to be a favorite of Paul Revere, the Warren Tavern is likely Boston’s oldest bar still operating at its original location. After the place burned, along with much of Charlestown, following the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, it was among the first structures to be rebuilt there in 1780. Seems that ours has always been a city that prioritizes booze.


It wasn’t only the Sons of Liberty who plotted rebellion in bars—on September 9, 1919, Boston cops did, too. In Faye Hall, a space atop Foley’s South End location, the Boston police union voted to strike. Riots ensued, invoking the wrath of then-Governor Calvin Coolidge, who fired more than 1,000 officers—and got elected president a few years later.


This place wears its history on its sleeve—or, rather, its walls, which chronicle the exploits of owner Jimmy O’Keefe (including the time he socked a sitting governor). Its basement bar, though, is where the masterminds of the Brink’s robbery are believed to have plotted the infamous North End heist that went down on January 17, 1950.


Dorchester made national news on January 25, 1983, when then-President Ronald Reagan, hoping to court blue-collar Democrats, strolled unexpectedly into the Eire. The pub remains a political touchstone: Mayors, governors, an Irish prime minister, John Kerry, and even a young Bill Clinton have all dropped by for a visit.