Editorial Review for Bell In Hand Boston – by Alison Bulman
College students, tourists and 20-somethings alike converge inside this dim castle-like den with a small bar. Wooden picnic tables sit against tall windows open (in warm weather) to rowdy passers-by at night, and to sightseers and shoppers from nearby Faneuil Hall during the day.
A narrow passageway
leads to a much larger room
with young, midriff-bearing
bar maids behind two additional
bars. A small stage hosts live
performances, with the seemingly
more intoxicated wooing and
wobbling to rock beats.
America's oldest continuously operating tavern since 1795 (when retired Boston crier Jimmy Wilson first opened its doors), the Bell in Hand is famous for an impressive clientele through the years (including actors, city leaders and Daniel Webster).
In this century, the place is quite a bit less sophisticated, but just as appealing to its jovial regulars. Traditional bar fare ranges from salads to fried appetizers and burgers, fish and pizza.
The Bell in Hand claims to be "the oldest pub in the United States," and far be it for anyone to dispute this claim. The Bell is a lovely old-fashioned masonry building that sits between cobblestone walkways and alleys on the Freedom Trail.
An antique-looking sign greets patrons from the side street, and the interior of the bar looks like it probably would have hundreds of years ago aside from the automated taps and plasma-screen TVs.
The woodwork and floors have an old feeling that gives this bar a hominess not found in other Boston bars.
It's no wonder there is always a line outside the door to get in on Friday and Saturday nights--the Bell is the place to be!
The crowd at the Bell in Hand tends to be in their early to late 20s, with a few 30-somethings interspersed for good humor. Unlike the other bars in this area that cater to the drunk college crowd, the Bell doesn't seem to cater to underage drinkers at all, which adds to its cool atmosphere.
Typically on Friday or Saturday nights, a band will play on the first level of the Bell and a DJ will spin more current hits on the second level. Some of my guy friends once informed me that they thought of the upstairs at the Bell as a "pickup bar," but I have seen little evidence of this during my visits. The crowds seem friendly but very relaxed and docile. There is a lack of retarded drunk guys sucker-punching anyone in their path here, which is nice.
Service at the Bell is great. During the happy hours, when appetizers are offered, the waitresses are quick to bring around menus and food like nachos or wings. The bartenders are very friendly and offer a generous pour of the alcohol when they mix a drink.
The waitresses are also very attentive when it comes to refills.
When the weather is nicer outside, the downstairs windows of the Bell are opened and offer a nice breeze to the patrons inside.
It is one of the best bars in Boston to try anytime, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great scene when visiting.
Photo Courtesy of:Joe Jazz - 978.815.3291
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