Monday, April 6, 2020

10 Great Watering Holes / Remembrance of Drinks Past

Commander K. "Invading" Antoines
Oysters Rockefeller & French '75
New Orleans, LA

We read, without much surprise, that in these grim plague times, alcohol sales have risen sharply (  So not all of the effects of COVID-19 have been negative and there may eventually be more good news coming from this pandemic (see my earlier on Beignets, Whiskey and Coronavirus... But restaurants, bars and pubs across the world have shut their doors causing spikes in unemployment and general discontent among the thirsty. It seems appropriate now more than ever to remember some of my personal favorite watering holes around the world...

All of these fine, life-enhancing and affirming institutions are sadly closed.  I have personally visited all of them and can testify to their genuine and pleasing nature.  Someday, we all hope soon, these watering holes will reopen and we will gather to celebrate the end of this wretched plague. I offer my personal drink recommendation for each of them in ten of my favorite establishments around the globe.  Cheers to that blessed day!

If we cannot now visit our old haunts and enjoy fellowship and good cheer we may, at least, use our memory to recall the fond experiences we have enjoyed therein.  We may indulge ourselves in a Proustian Remembrance of Drinks Past to console us and get us through these dark times...

Oyster Time!
Walrus & the Carpenter
Seattle, WA

Oysters thrive on fresh clean water and there is an abundance of this in the Northwest.  The Walrus and the Carpenter is a fabulous to slurp down tasty raw bivalves from Washington and British Columbia.  What is the optimum beverage to accompany your oysters?    Draught beer?  White wine? Champagne?   See my answer below...

Drink: A French '75 pairs perfectly with oysters.

Cigar & Vesper Martini
American Bar
Stafford Hotel
London, UK

The American Bar of the Stafford Hotel near Green Park is an ideal place to enjoy a drink and a cigar outside on one of Londons' rare pleasant days.  The inside of this establishment is festooned with American sports memorabilia.  Ian Fleming wrote about the Vesper Martini in the very first James Bond novel Casino Royale, published in 1953.  The Vesper is a delicious high octane cocktail that features gin, vodka and the French apertif wine Lillet.  Highly addictive like Eva Green / Vesper Lynd!

Drink: James Bond would order a Vesper and you should too!

The Churchill Arms
London, UK

This traditional pub in Kensington is chock full of Winston Churchill memorabilia.  They also have a fine Thai restaurant attached.  Beer and spicy Thai food is a happy marriage.  A great place to reflect upon the life of history's greatest Briton while enjoying a pint and some Pad Thai.  This is a Fuller's pub.

Drink:  Fuller's Honey Dew Beer pairs beautifully with Thai food.

Tiroler Hut
A little bit of Austria in London! 
4) TIROLER HUT, London, UK (

This subterranean establishment is a warm slice Austria in the heart of London.  Come here for a cheese fondue and steamed sausages with sauerkraut.  Washed it all down with Steins of cold pilsner.  Save room for some apple strudel!  But the real attraction here is the free musical entertainment led for years by the indefatigable owner Josef Friedman.  Sadly, the Hut had a devastating fire in August of 2019 ( One prays for the resurrection of this Austrian phoenix and the restoration of gem├╝tlichkeit to London!  Please consider making a gift to the Hut!

Drink: Split A Boot of Bavarian Beer with at least 4 friends!

5) COMMANDER'S PALACE, New Orleans, LA (
Commander's Palace
New Orleans

When the Commander is in New Orleans he must, ipso facto, make a pilgrimage to Commander's Palace.  This historic restaurant in the Garden District of New Orleans has been satisfying diners since 1880.  Their signature turtle soup is incredible and still available for delivery!  This is the perfect place for a special occasion meal with a special person.

Drink: A Mint Julep to restore the tissues and prepare for an amazing meal!  An Irish Coffee with dessert!

Whiskey Sour
Century Bar
Dayton, OH

6) CENTURY BAR, Dayton, OH (

Dayton has an amazing Air Force Museum but it also boasts one of the finest bourbon bars in the USA.  (See my earlier post on Bourbon history...  The bartenders at the Century Bar in downtown Dayton are artists in the medium of bourbon cocktails.  Just trust me on this...

Drink: Try the Whiskey Sour.  Anywhere else an abomination; here ambrosia!

Rum Daquiri
Pedro Mandinga
Panama City, Panama
7) PEDRO MANDINGA, Panama City, Panama (

Pedro Mandinga is a distillery that also owns a few rum cocktail bars.  After a stroll through the charming old section of Panama City enter the wood paneled comfort of a Pedro Manding rum bar.  Snacks such as the empanadas and ceviche are delicious.  The staff is friendly and attentive.  The bartenders are masterful.  (See my earlier blog on Rum, Piracy and Panama...

Drink: A Rum Daquiri

Commander K.  Invades
Cantinetta Antinori

8) CANTINETTA ANTINORI, Florence, Italy (

Antinori is a vast and fabled Italian wine producer.  In this Florence restaurant and bar you will find Tuscan dishes paired with the full range of Antinori selections.  All of the Antinori offerings -- from Prosecco to Super Tuscans -- are conveniently available by the glass.

Drink:  Try a glass of Tignanello with your tagliatta!

Rabbit Hole Distillery
Louisville, KY


Scurry down the Rabbit Hole in Louisville to find one of the finest new distilleries in Kentucky.  Their sherry cask aged bourbon is to die for.  In 2019 the huge conglomerate Pernod Ricard acquired a majority stake in this boutique producer.  This is the same Pernod Ricard that scored a PR coup by generously converted much of its output to the production of hand sanitizer (   Tour the distillery but be sure to visit the uber-cool cocktail lounge after your visit.

Drink:  Anything with bourbon is excellent.  Try the Manhattan!

Irish Coffee
Buena Vista Cafe
San Francisco, CA
10) BUENA VISTA CAFE, San Francisco, CA (

The iconic Buena Vista Cafe is a San Francisco institution.  You will find it at Fisherman's Wharf across from the picturesque Cable Car stop.  The Buena Vista has been serving up perfect Irish Coffees since 1952.  In normal times they make around 2,000 per day.  Warning: Too many of these may transform you into a Fighting Celt!

Drink: An Irish Coffee, of course!

Commander Kelly cordially invites you to share a few of your favorite bars, pubs and restaurants in the Comment section!

101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur is coming Soon! 

You can find signed copies of our books at 
these web sites...



Jim Hooper said...

Great list

Kevin Haw said...

Too many remain on my bucket list

Mike DeLucca said...

The Cow! A wonderfully quaint London pub who specializes in oysters and Guinness. Many days spent there, right Chris?