Welcome to Americantom.com
The concept for this sight began in the mid 1980s when I began collecting information on neighborhood watering holes as part of a college project. The project was a success and the research was packed away and put in storage.
Sometime after Al Gore invented the internet I decided to look into posting my "reviews" online. A friend offered to help and setup a simple webpage that housed everything I had done to that point. Her initial work inspired me to learn to do basic web stuff and begin to write and maintain my own site.
This webpage is not about drinking alcohol. I almost never drink in my home and do not have the time to spend hours on end in one local taproom.
It IS about the small-town taverns that have been focal points of countless American communities for centuries. Many of these establishments are vanishing as our drinking habits change as a result of our busy lives, increasing beer costs, stricter DUI laws and competition from national chains of alcohol-serving restaurants. It is my hope that I can record the spirit of America's local taverns and the interesting people and adventures that they hold.
This online book chronicles my thoughts, commentary and observations on neighborhood pubs, beer joints and bars. You will almost never find a single review of any chain tavern. Their path of never-ending expansion drives many historical bars out of business and I do everything I can to never spend a dime in one.
Start by reading Lew Bryson's commentary, "Is The Corner Bar Doomed?"
Tom Corkery, a longtime Dublin pub regular, gives this interesting definition of a good pub, saying it should have "a regular and knowing clientele; an absence of ale quaffers, ginsippers, whiskey suppers, or wine-bibbers; a seemly and decorous interior in shades of brown and mahogany, relieved only by the glitter of glass . . . sawdust and framed enlargements of hurlers, footballers, horses or dogs."
My evaluation of a taproom has many criteria - all subjective:
LOCATION & APPEARANCE
* I'm sure you have seen a country bar at some point in your life. The type of place where you round a corner and see it or maybe it is framed by large trees covering people sitting on a deck or some other unique feature. The building and grounds should look at least somewhat inviting - not a location that makes you feel like drinking a beer there might cost your life nor too slick and polished.
* Neon signs in the window are good as is the delicious aroma of food cooking as its greasy smoke flow outward from the exhaust vent. A lack of neon in the window is the first sign that an establishment is taking itself too seriously.
* General impression as you pull open the door. Is the entrance so tricky and confusing that only well-practiced regulars can safely navigate it? I am convinced that trick entrances (steep stairs, curbs, doors opening opposite ways, etc) are an easy way to identify newcomers - by their crashing, flailing and cursing.
* When you finally open the door do you hear good music and people being happy or do you feel like you have walked into the silence of an art museum? Do all of the bar-sitters turn and stare at you?
* The approach to the bar itself. Does anyone at the bar say hello or even acknowledge that you have arrived? Do regulars get better service than visitors even if the visitor was dry long before them?
* Does the bartender make eye contact and greet you? Worse of all, do they make eye contact and look away without saying a word?I don't go to a bar to hear a barmaid's life story or to tell mine but a bartender is not doing their job when they have zero interaction with their customers other than plopping down a glass and collecting money. If the room is mostly empty of customers, are the workers BS'ing about their own problems and gripes? I don't want to hear that. A tavern is an escape for the customers and they do not need or want to hear the bitches of the people who work there. Does the staff smile? Physical appearance. Of course it is more pleasant to be served by a beautiful person than someone who appears on deaths door. That is a given. If the barmaid is not "pretty" - does she have a lively and upbeat personality? That can certainly equal or exceed the benefit of a gorgeous one. I guess the same is true for a male bartender although I have never given that one any thought.
* This is probably what you came here for. How is it served? I like the glass and the beer cold. The money-saving trick of keeping the cooler temperature higher to save money doesn't fly with me. The empty mug. When the mug, can or bottle is empty is when the lightweights are separated from the pro's. A great bartender will be right on it - happily tapping another beer. A poor one will practically need you to throw the container across the room before they realize it. A lot is said about a server and a bar by what happens when the glass is emptied.ey what happens when the glass is emptied.
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