Everyone has one. A place, either in their past or their present, where they have gone to sample adult libations in the company of friends and strangers. Sometimes these places are dark and cozy, with just the right mixture of stale cigarette smoke and peanuts to lend authenticity and heritage. Others are gargantuan clubs, filled with people and lights and music and fun. Give me the former.
At left is pictured the Plough and Stars, once one of my favorite haunts. The Plough is located on
The Plough is an Irish bar, of course, taking its name from the banner of the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rebellion of 1916. (It is most definitely not taken from the infamous Sean O'Casey play that shocked and outraged
I was introduced to the Plough around 1973-74 by friends of my older sister, who also lived in
The Plough catered to a strange mix of blue collar locals, students, professors, and ex-pat Irish terrorists (I'm not positive about the last). Walk in, say, around four in the afternoon, and you'd see a bicycle mechanic lacing a wheel while enjoying a good pipe and playing chess with a Harvard physics professor. Conversation came easy at the bar while you waited for the barkeep to draw a perfect pint of stout. It can't be hurried, so patience was a key ingredient to being a welcomed guest of the Plough. Sometimes things got a little fuzzy. Like the time I took to talking to a German motorcycle tourist and he showed me how good a Guinness tastes with a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey added. To this day I honor that unknown lad by calling the concoction a "Hamburg Sidecar." But trust me on this, folks: be very careful with this one, or you will be dusting the floor from your shoulder.
On Sundays there was a jazz brunch. Local guys and students from Berkley School of Music would jam while you quaffed your morning pint with the paper. Good food, too. Things like lamb stew and corned beef and cabbage were usually available. The music was the thing, though. It was so cramped that sound systems weren't necessary, and any Johnny with a fiddle or pipe could play whenever he wanted. (One day I'll tell you the story of St. Patrick's Day, the one-legged fiddler, and the older woman.)
The last time I was in the Plough must have been in the early 90's. I was in
The pint was perfect.