A semi- Mendacious Pata-Imbibetratorial Barcrawl Through History
A man walks into a bar. Since the first bar was opened in antiquity over 7 billion men, and an equal number of women, have walked into bars. It is believed that the very first bar, which opened in 5000 BCE in Mesopotamia, had no card machine and a limited spirits menu. According to Roman Historian Plony the Welder, many bars in ancient Rome had a novel queuing system: patricians were allowed to jump to the front, but only on the condition that they bought drinks for five plebeians (and nuts if required).
Osteria Al Brindisi
Osteria Al Brindisi in Ferrara, Italy was established in 1435 and is Europe’s oldest active wine bar. This bar was frequented by the heliocentric barfly Copernicus. A notorious beach-bum, it was in this bar that Copernicus declared his life revolved around, ‘…the sun and surfing’ – this proclamation was misheard by a local journalist and the rest is history.
Nathaniel Bentley was a dandy who lived in 19th Century London. His businesses, including a warehouse and an alehouse, were thriving and he was engaged to a beautiful woman – all seemed butterflies and rainbows for the lucky Bentley. But fate was about to pour down misery on him (and had a particularly nasty surprise for his fiancée). The day before the wedding, the preparations were completed: his pub’s dining room was bedecked in flowers, fine linen and the centrepiece was a magnificent cake. However, his fiancée died that night. Heartbroken, Bentley lost faith with the universe and never washed again. His pub became a mire of decay and waste, filled with fetid clothing, dirty dishes and even dead cats. As its notoriety grew, fascinated drinkers crowded to visit it. Following his death it ran as a living museum to the miasmic filth of the tragic Bentley and was named Dirty Dick’s. Until the 1980s the ceiling of Dirty Dick’s was festooned with Bentley’s old unwashed clothes, but the coming of new health and safety regulations put an end to these disgusting and romantic decorations.
The Wayfaring Centaur
The enduring stories of ‘roving pubs’ that can only be located after the fifth drink remain alive today. The most famous roving pub is of course ‘The Wayfaring Centaur’ that has sporadically served drinkers in Girvan, South Ayrshire for the last three hundred years. In 1793 Samuel Peticosh left the Coach & Horses at around ten o’clock. Though he lived a two minute walk away, he was not seen until 3 a.m. His claims to have been to a pub called ‘The Wayfaring Centaur’ were greeted with scorn by his disbelieving wife. There was no such pub. Peticosh then presented a printed horse-park ticket (like a modern day car park or car lot ticket, but for horses). His wife couldn’t understand what had happened as she knew every alehouse and tavern within a day’s ride.
Hannah McTavistock and her friend Lorna Brown disappeared for three days in 1832. They reappeared on Girvan High Street on the third morning both laughing and carrying tankards engraved with the image of a dancing centaur. Since then, hundreds of people have reported visiting The Wayfaring Centaur in similar circumstances, but its location remains a mystery. Stranger still, it was reportedly visited by three men in 2002 – in Akron, Ohio!