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Bell In Hand Tavern

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Bell In Hand TavernBell In Hand Tavern

Type: Bar, Eatery

45-55 Union Street
Boston, Massachusetts, 02108-2409
United States

(617) 227-2098 | map

The Tavern has been around since 1795. A gathering place for printers and politicians, sailors and students, it quickly became the most famous alehouse in the city.

Jimmy Wilson was the first owner. Everybody in Boston knew Jimmy. Not that they had much choice. Jimmy was Boston’s town crier for fifty years. Good news or bad, Bostonians heard it all from Jimmy. He reported on everything from the Boston Tea Party to the birth of the nation. When he retired, he decided to open a tavern. He was proud of his former occupation and that’s why he called the place the Bell-in-Hand.

Added by clarkm04 on 08-04-2010

View: Place Reviews | Events
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Reviews: 8 | Ratings: 26
Photo of scxcrunner
3.48/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.25

Good for what it is. its a typical Boston bar. food is not thing special and the beer selection is standard. they usually have live music and is a pretty cool building but thats about it.

 190 characters

Photo of drrone
3.98/5  rDev +24.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

I figured i would check out this place as they advertise it as America's oldest tavern, which according to wiki is not true. Anyways, i went to this place early evening and it was cool. A decent band and a decent draft list. They did have grapefruit sculpin on tap though and i was very excited about that. I guess at night it turns more into a party crowd, but i would suggest dropping by if you are the area.

 410 characters

Photo of lehows
3.5/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3

Stopped in one afternoon as part of an informal pub crawl. Dark typical pub atmosphere but this place is steeped in history. One of the oldest continually operating pubs in the country, maybe even the oldest I heard. Friendly bar staff and patrons in here enjoying a pint and chatting with anyone who walked through the door. Selection was the usual suspects with seasonal offerings from Harpoon and Sam being the best of the bunch. All in all, definitely worth a stop if you're walking through the area but not exactly a beer bar destination.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.28/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 2.5 | food: 3.5

A convenient stop on the freedom trail, the oldest tavern in the USA (apparently). Triangle shaped layout with cobblestones outside, feels authentic despite the "Winking Lizard" feel to the interior. Mostly BMC products on tap, although I did find Sam Adams Brick Red (only distributed locally). Food was normal pub fare, decent price and taste.

The lack of quality taps was a disappointment, still this place has neat history. No need to go here twice but as a tourist I was glad to go once.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.16/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.5

OK, let me state this now: I know this is not a hot spot for beer lovers. My wife and I were showing a relative from the west coast around downtown, and we cruised through Faneuil Hall. We stopped at the BIHT because it was freezing, and I thought it was sorta cool to have a drink with the guy in America's oldest tavern. Brick and stone interior. A few bars, tvs, music stages, and a dance floor upstairs. Who hasn't spent a night partying at this strip of pubs? They're all the same really, one fratboy bar after another. Decent crowd on a Sat afternoon, even with no local sports events on tv. Bartender was friendly enough, served us quickly. Beers were $7.50, but come in 24oz glasses. Selection was pretty weak. Four Harpoons, three Sams, and a whole bunch of macro. I went with the Harpoon Celtic Ale. There's only two reasons to come here: as a tourist to say you had a pint here, or as part of a pub crawl.

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Photo of asabreed
3.06/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.5

Didn't try the food here, to get that out of the way, but they did have -- like a lot of places in the area -- a lot of lobster specials.

It's apparently the oldest tavern in the U.S., which it has going for it.

It's on the corner of two streets, so the best way to describe it would probably be as an A-frame, and the night before, someone in the top of the A was playing guitar and doing a weird cover of Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire."

Normal pub-type atmosphere. A lot of folks after working having a brew since it was a Monday.

Not much else to say. A cool place to visit for the history, but with not a very big beer selection, it won't be someplace I frequent when I come back.

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Photo of belgiumbud
3.05/5  rDev -4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 2 | food: 2.5

Located around the block from Quincy Market in historic Boston, Mass the Bell In Hand Pub is located on a small black surrounded by a handfull of Pub/Resturants located in history laced buildings...

On a humid summer day the pub was very inviting with all of its floor to ceiling open windows that allow for some great people watching for the busy sidewalk traffic that surround the pub...Small bar located inside...the rear bar and dance area was not open being that we visited during lunch...Extremely nice waitress that allowed us to sit wherever we liked...Menu was pretty standard for Boston Pub Grub...A little pricey, but so is everything in Boston as long as you are not in China Town...Not impressed with the beer selection...I tried the Bell In Hand Amber Ale, which is brewed by Sam Adams, and I was extremely disappointed...I was fairly happy with my selection of a pint of Harpoon IPA and UFO Hefe...I ordered Fish and Chips and they were just okay...The waitress waas probably the best thing about the experience because she was personable and funny...The food was nothing exciting and for a beer bar the Bell In Hand could use a beer buyer with some beer knowledge...It seems as though the Bell In Hand is catering to the young college crowd during the night hours and the tourists...

 1,300 characters

Photo of clarkm04
2.28/5  rDev -28.5%
vibe: 2 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 2

This is the longest continuous bar in America having opened it's doors in 1795 and has been located in it's current location since 1844. The only time the doors closed was for Prohibition. Paul Revere and Daniel Webster were known patrons of the Bell in Hand.

After reading this on their website and being so close to the fabulous Union Oyster House I figured this bar would be amazing. Boy was I wrong. They have two bars of what appears to be 12 taps each. Everything was BMC expect some of Harpoon's UFO series and Boston Lager. I saw absolutely no craft on tap.

The bartender when she noticed I did not want any BMC asked me what I wanted and claimed they had everything in bottles. I asked for anything from Brooklyn or Magic Hat. Bear in mind, I did not ask for a specific beer, just anything from a line that I can't get in the Midwest. Her response, "We don't have that but we have Michelob Pomegranate."

You have got to be f'ing kidding me. That's your response after saying you have an extensive bottle line??

This basically is a wannabe hipster bar. You can go to thousands of these bars all over the country. I was disappointed that instead of making this bar something special the owners turned it into a a typical bar you could find anyone in the country in almost any city. You would never know about the history or have a sense of the East Coast craft scene from this establishment. What a disappointment. I drank my pint and left this poser haven as quickly as possible.

The bartender we had besides offering me freaking Michelob was fairly proficient but this is not a beer centric bar.

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Bell In Hand Tavern in Boston, MA
3.19 out of 5 based on 26 ratings.
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