New Hope for the Holidays

CNJ Train Station - Jim Thorpe, PA - Christmas 2008

CNJ Train Station - Jim Thorpe, PA - Christmas 2008

Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any worse for humankind this year, rumors started to be heard on the streets of Jim Thorpe, PA that one our much vaunted stops along the Irish drinking parlor  circuit,  the Molly Maguire’s Pub was not going to renew its lease at year’s end. But now certain well placed sources are saying that a reprieve of sorts is in the cards, and that this venerable institution will remain intact for at least one more grand parade down Broadway come this March. “Saints Be Praised.”

And while we are on the topic of  Jim Thorpe, I was speaking with the owner of The Gandy Dancer; as a devotee and dealer of railroad photography,  he is one who certainly appreciates the Tracks and Taverns section of our magazine. He was also kind enough to share the image of the train station as a way to pass along the spirit of the season from all the good people up in  Jim Thorpe.

Another great Pennsylvania community also sends out its holiday greetings to the rest of mankind in the current issue of  American Public House Review. Indulge your visual senses with these images of the city of Bethlehem in this photo essay compiled by Kathleen Connally.

 On behalf of  the creative and editorial staff, and all the communities and public houses that have opened their doors and hearts to us during the past year we wish everyone – 

A Season Filled With Hope and Many Blessings!

Candle and Tankard

Candle and Tankard

And May Your Candle Always Burn Bright, and May Your Tankard  Always Be Full!
 
 
Posted by: Chris Poh, Editor-in-Chief

High Society Comes to Toronto

groucho_guinness

Here is one of those things that it is simply hard to believe no one has thought of before.  According to this morning’s Canada.com, a theatre in Toronto is experimenting with a new idea, serving alcoholic beverages to movie patrons.

“It went very well,” said Pat Marshall, vice-president of communications Cineplex Entertainment. “Our guests were happy and we’re delighted.”

Movie-goers who are of legal drinking age can pay $5 to sit in a VIP auditorium where in-seat food service is already offered and order alcoholic drinks. Beverage service stops once the movie begins. A beer costs $4.69 plus taxes.

First if all, I can’t believe how long it has taken someone to figure this out.  Yes, adults, who are the ones paying mind you, like to have a bevy now and again while watching a movie.  There certainly is no lack of drinking going on in the movies themselves.  Is that too much to ask?  We can get a beer at a baseball game, why not a movie?

Secondly, kudos to the theatre for selling the beer at such a reasonable price.  I would expect, like everything else that is sold in movie theatre, to pay some astronomical amount of money.  Now I can get a snickers bar and a beer for, I don’t know, somewhere in the 25 dollar range?!?!

— Written & posted by David McBride

Photo courtesy of Dr. Macro.

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Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 9:18 am  Comments (1)  
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OF CHRISTMAS CAROLS AND SMOKING BISHOPS

dickens_christmas_carol_cover_small2Chris Poh, the editor of AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW and I, the Creative Director of the said on-line journal, produce a weekly, free form  radio show called THE BLEECKER STREET CAFE on WDVR FM – 89.7 in central New Jersey. We are on the air Fridays from noon until three E.T. You can catch us on the web at www.wdvrfm.org.  Every year on the Friday before Christmas we perform an impromptu, unrehearsed, hugely improvised, and otherwise completely unprepared radio-play of Charles Dickens,’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

Because we at AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW are blessed with a staff that share, for better or worse, a distinctive worldview and similar opinions as to what constitutes thespianic talent, we, of course, engage the profound, theatrical faculties of Kathleen Connally, our photoblogger extraodinaire and David McBride, our intrepid Marketing Director in our yearly ruination of this Dickens’ classic.

In our “improvisation,” which has been an annual event now each year for about eight, The Bleecker Street Players seem to unknowingly rehash identical attempts at comedy year after year, and we forgetfully over-play the same dramatic elements of the good ol’ story every time too. It’s loads of fun though.  We likewise repeat much ado about the selfsame curiosities that crop up in the story which are unique to those Dickensonian times in 19th Century London. Among those curiosities is a libation that Scrooge, after his epiphany, proposes as a shared consecration of the new found friendship between himself and his long-suffering employee, Bob Cratchit. The drink is called a “SMOKING BISHOP” and it never fails to prompt questions as to the recipe and lore of this enigmatic elixir.

It seems that in certain regions of England at that time, spirited beverages, especially wines, acquired figurative, popular-culture, nicknames from the world of the ecclesiastical. “Pope” meant burgundy, “Cardinal” was champagne, “Archbishop” represented claret, and “Bishop” was the apellation for port. So “SMOKING BISHOP” indicated a hot and steaming, port-based beverage to be enjoyed in the candle light as a brace against the chill of the London winter and perhaps as an analgesic to soothe the sinus headache effected by the all-pervasive and tormenting coal smoke.

Because we at AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW consider it our mission to serve the pub community with the history, the traditions, the legends, the news, and any practical knowledge as to the world of spirited beverages and their purveyors, we offer this recipe for an authentic, Dickens’ style “Smoking Bishop.”

Procure six bitter oranges such as Sevilles and bake them in a medium oven until they begin to turn golden brown. If you can’t find bitter oranges, use four, regular, juicey oranges (not navel oranges) with one grapefruit, or perhaps two lemons.

Prick each orange with five whole cloves. Put them in a bowl (not a metal pot) with a bottle of decent, but hardly world-class red wine and 1/2 cup of sugar. Cover with a towel or board (no metal lid, nor foil). Leave it out on the counter for a whole day and night. Don’t refrigerate.

The next day, remove the oranges and squeeze the juice back into the wine. Pour everything into a pot (now you can use metal) with a whole bottle of port. Heat, but be careful not to boil or evaporate all of the Christmas spirit. It should be steaming however when it is enjoyed in warmed glass mugs preferably with handles.

Ed Petersen, Creative Director of AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW

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Trouble A-Brewin’

One of Pennsylvania’s true destinations, the beloved Penn Brewery and Restaurant in the Deutschtown section of Pittsburgh’s North Side, is on the verge of closing its 19th century doors due to failed rent negotiations with its landlord, E & O Partners.

pennbrewery_web2

The Penn Brewery, Pennsylvania’s first and largest “craft” brewer, was founded in 1986 by “Mr. Beer,” Tom Pastorius. In 1990 Pastorius spent millions of dollars installing a custom-made German-style brewery — complete with locally made fermenters and storage tanks — in the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Pastorius’ award-winning beers and accompanying restaurant featuring traditional German dishes turned the architectural jewel into a Pittsburgh icon.

Tom Pastorius, Image © The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tom Pastorius, Image © The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

But Pastorius now has to close the brewery and restaurant due to a 360% rent increase by the historic building’s owners, E & O Partners, who have been unwilling to negotiate. In an interview with reporters Bob Batz and Bob Hoover from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pastorius said, “E & O decided to increase the square footage that the company’s responsible for. It more than doubled the space from 13,000 square feet to 28,000 by including the outdoor beer garden and loading dock. It also tacked on a bunch of other operating expenses for the entire building on the company’s rent.”

The Penn Brewery is searching for a new location.  In the meantime, the large and heavy brewing equipment must be dismantled and stored – not an easy task – and most of its 50 employees laid off, very difficult news in an area that has closed three additional brewing companies in 2008: John Harvard’s Brew House, Hereford and Hops and the Johnstown Brewing Company (website dismantled).

penn_oktoberfest_web3The last batch of Penn beer was made this week but Penn Brewery has contracted with the Lion Hill Brewery in Wilkes-Barre to continue making its beers with the same recipes and ingredients.  At issue may be maintaining Penn’s hallmark quality in a different and larger facility — Penn won gold and bronze medals at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, for its Kaiser Pils and Oktoberfest.

For more reading on brewing and microbrewing in Pennsylvania and America, check out Pennsylvania’s Breweries and The American Brewery: From Colonial Evolution to Microbrew Revolution .

— Written & Posted by Kathleen Connally

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Next Time – Take the Train

New Jersey Transit Train at Mountain Lakes

New Jersey Transit Train at Mountain Lakes

As politicians and the press  argue about what mode of transport best suits auto executives when traveling from Detroit to Washington in order to attain another bailout,  it occurs to me that had we not been so quick  to trade our steel wheels for rubber, perhaps we wouldn’t  be on the verge of  totally derailing the U.S. economy. While one can not deny the role of the “Big Three” in fueling  America’s juggernaut  postwar growth, one might question the wisdom of those that put the iron horse out to pasture. 

In the current issue of American Public House Review our correspondents expose their passions for trains big and small. From Lionel to the Lackawanna we explore our nation’s railroading history, and as always we find the time and a proper stop for some track side libations at The Station  at Mountain Lakes.

The Bar in the Station at Mountain Lakes

The Bar in the Station at Mountain Lakes

But never let it be said that we as an organization live too much in the past and refuse to embrace the future. In an upcoming article, written from a bar stool at the  Slainte Pub in Baltimore, our editorial staff will unveil their choice for the future in hybrid transportation.

Fells Point Boat Parade

Fells Point Boat Parade

 Posted by: Chris Poh

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Hurling a Harpoon at the recession

Harpoon Brewery, one of the many great Massachusetts beer makers, are expanding their brewing capacity by about 20% this week as they install two new fermenting tanks.  According to the Boston Globe, these are some ridiculously big tanks!

The Harpoon Brewery plans to install two new 500-barrel unitank fermenters at its South Boston facility tomorrow, weather permitting.

The tanks, which stand 38 feet high and weigh 28,000 pounds, are the largest tanks to be installed in the brewery’s history, twice the size of the largest tank at Harpoon now, the company said in a press release.

So why am I reporting this to you?  Because it can only be seen as good news.  During this sharp economic downturn, you would think breweries like Harpoon, not a major producer but certainly not a small one either, would be feeling the pain.  But instead they are expanding. 

ale

And for anyone who may not have tried Harpoon’s beers, they make a really solid product.  Like many of New England’s breweries, they produce great and consistent ales.  And what makes a better cure for an economic downturn than buying delicious American ale?  Now, there is even more on the way.  It’s a win-win all around.

by Dave McBride

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Published in: on December 11, 2008 at 11:55 am  Comments (1)  
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Remembering a hero

Today, December 8, is one of those few days on the calendar where just hearing the date brings back sad reflections. It was on this day twenty eight years ago when John Lennon was shot and killed in New York City. His death shocked and saddened the entire city and people around the world.

Manhattan was like an adopted home to Lennon, a place where he, like so many artists, thrived. Step inside one of his favorite hangouts, the Ear Inn on Spring Street in SoHo, and you’ll see yet another example of why he found this great city so inspirational.

ear-inn-1

Lennon is one of my heroes. As a musician and a writer, I have always marveled at the intense passion that flowed from his creations. So on this sad day, lift a glass with me to this incredible songwriter and artist. Love is all we need!

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by Dave McBride

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Whiskey or Whisky?

WC Fields with Mae West

WC Fields with Mae West

“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”

–W. C. Fields (1880-1946)

  ———-

I wonder if W.C. Fields enjoyed Scotch, Canadian, American or Irish whiskey?

By simply observing the spelling of whiskey in his quote, we can quite possibly surmise that Mr. Fields enjoyed an American or Irish beverage; if he preferred the Scotch or Canadian version, the correct spelling would be whisky.

The words whiskey and whisky are derived from the Gaelic words meaning “water of life”:  uisce beatha in Ireland and uisge beatha in Scotland, both pronounced something like whishkeyba.

There’s a much storied and debated history regarding the usage of whiskey versus whisky. Until the late 1800s, all whisky was spelled without the “e.” At that time, Scottish whisky suffered a loss of reputation because it was made using a cheaper production method, so the Irish and American distilleries added the “e” as a mark of distinction.

Whiskey is still used today for spirits distilled in Ireland and America, and whisky is used for those distilled in Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Japan.

Curiously, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies whisky as the official U.S. spelling but allows the use of whiskey in deference to history and tradition.

Further reading on the subject is available here, here and here.

— Posted by Kathleen Connally who was delighted to learn that in Latin-American countries, photographers use the word “whiskey” instead of “cheese” as a way to get their subjects to smile.

— Photograph courtesy of Dr. Macro

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The Tavern at the Sergeantsville Inn

On Black Friday, I ignored shopping invitations from Mr. Macy & Mr. Gimble and whiled away the afternoon talking and taking photos in the warm & cozy tavern of the historic Sergeantsville Inn with APHR cohorts Chris Poh and Ed Petersen, as well as friend Don “Juan” Garrido. The Sergeantsville Inn is quietly situated in the heart of rural, yet posh Hunterdon County, New Jersey, ranked as America’s wealthiest suburban county in 2007.

Don "Juan" Garrido Sipping a Guinness © Kathleen Connally

Don Juan Garrido Sipping a Guinness © Kathleen Connally

Sergeantsville was first called Skunktown because it served as a market center for skunk pelts in the late 1700s, but was renamed in 1827 for Charles Sergeant, a local landowner and Revolutionary War soldier. The Sergeantsville Inn was originally built as a private home but was later used as a grain & feed store, a grocery store and an ice cream parlor.

Old Speckled Hen Tap © Kathleen Connally

Old Speckled Hen Tap © Kathleen Connally

While I was sipping on a beautifully poured pint of Old Speckled Hen, Chris mentioned that a section of the handsome stone structure once served as the town’s ice house, and that some of the Inn’s staff have experienced ghostly encounters in that part of the building.

I was thrilled to learn that Ed is researching and writing a full story about the Sergeantsville Inn for an upcoming issue of APHR, where he’ll interview the employees about their adventures with the shadows and spectres that live there.  I’m looking forward to Ed’s story and to returning to the tavern later this month as I search for the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Chris Poh in the Ice House © Kathleen Connally

Chris Poh in the Ice House © Kathleen Connally

— Written & Posted by Kathleen Connally

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