THHG Book Club: Haunting and Diving.

We’ve all heard of eco-tourism by now: Vacation travel that visits places of natural beauty in a way that helps preserve the environment. Great idea, right? Well, the Happy Hour Guys have coined a new term in the same spirit: bev-tourism. Simply put, bev-tourism includes visiting pubs, taverns, saloons, breweries, wineries and distilleries of some significance. Surprisingly, these spots will often share parallel philosophies with eco-tourism destinations; many of the favorite beverage dispensaries we’ve visited practice business in an environmentally responsible way and contribute to the well-being of their communities. In addition, these properties are some of the most historic, quirky, creative, flat-out enjoyable places around, making it easy to be champions of bev-tourism. There are an increasing number of books being written about these places: Here are two more of our favorites.

First up, we have Wendy Mitchell’s 2003 guide, NEW YORK CITY’S BEST DIVE BARS “Drinking and Diving in the Five Boroughs”. Ms. Mitchell’s writing style is direct and to the point, like most of the bars she visits. We’re on the record as being avid dive bar fans, and Ms. Mitchell has been kind enough to do some leg work for those of you who feel the same. Alphabetically arranged with the criteria for a dive bar clearly laid out, Ms. Mitchell takes her readers on a crawl through the Big Apple’s most famous and infamous dives. She’d give Greg Louganis a run for his money. Best of all, she seems to really enjoy it. These are places she visits herself and her personal stories make each entry even richer. I’m not sureMcSorley’s Old Ale House should qualify as a “dive”, but quibbles like that aside, Ms. Mitchell has written a love letter to the smoky, seedy, sticky NYC that is disappearing under a crush of shiny condos and $12 pomegranate martinis. It’s a sad realization that since its publication in 2003, her list of dives has diminished significantly as developers continue their march through the city. Thus, a sad tip of the hat to Siberia, and many others no longer with us.

Next we move to Roxie J. Zwicker’s HAUNTED PUBS OF NEW ENGLAND: Raising Spirits of the Past.  That’s right; pack the kids in the Previa because we’re going on a tour of the creepiest watering holes to serve grog since Our Founding Fathers. Zwicker does a nice job of painting the local picture for her readers, both currently and in an historical context. She hits her stride, though, when she shares the stories of the actual pubs and their ghostly inhabitants. It should be of little surprise that inns and taverns that saw the high drama of the creation of our country should be home to spirits who long to remain at the scene of their greatest moments of fame or infamy. These pubs have given rise to stories of both the famous and the obscure appearing to strangers. Privateers, patriots, rebels and spies as well as more commonplace murderers and victims can be encountered if the stories are to be believed. History, a good fright, and no shortage of adult beverages. Perfect for the whole family.

Both of these books are a great jumping off point, but neither can explore every possibility. There are dive bars around every corner in NYC and mysteries down many back roads throughout New England. Ideally, they will serve to pique your interest and let your curiosity lead you away. Both are available . 

What are you waiting for? Bev-Tour!