Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bukowski's Tavern

Boston's Homage to a Tinsel Town's Rebel Poet

While in Boston, every day, for a week, I walked past a tiny, red, hole in the wall bar nestled between a parking lot and perched on the edge of a bridge over a freeway. Yes, the strange locale caught my attention but the real clincher was the bar’s name. How could I not be drawn in by a rebel writer with a penchant for the sauce, and fellow Angeleno, at that!

I wondered why the watering hole was called Bukowski. Did the controversial mid-20th century poet / novelist / ne’er-do-well own it at one time? Did he drink there? We don’t have a Bukowski bar in L.A.… so why was there one in Bean Town?

Finally, one evening, walking back over the bridge from Newbury Street where I taught The Liquid Muse Sustainable Sips Cocktail Classes to the Hilton, where I was staying, I could no longer resist my curiosity. I’d just pop my head in the crowded wisp of a bar, snap a photo and be on my way… unless incredibly tempted.

Well, as it turned out, there happened to one lone available seat at the bar. I suppose one could call it destiny. Or one could just call it an empty chair. Either way, I decided to try a cocktail.

Until I learned they did not serve cocktails. Only beer and wine. And, if there’s one thing I know about dive bars without a full liquor license, the wine is usually something to avoid. So, I asked the bartender for a beer brewed in good, old Massachusetts.

The native Bostonian on the stool next to mine suggested a Harpoon, which I tried, cuz I never doubt a local. Founded in 1986, it claims to be New England's largest brewery. The beer I had hit the spot - a bit of a bite, plenty of froth and went down smooth.

I also learned that Charles Bukowski has nothing to do with the bar at all. The name is an homage to the writer simply because the bar’s owner is a fan. The bar’s walls are painted by a local artist, and unfortunately I was not allowed to photograph them because the bar’s manager was concerned about them not being copyrighted. This struck me as a bit ironic considering they ripped off someone else’s name for their establishment … but whatever.

With my curiosity (and thirst) quenched, I headed back to my solitary hotel room with visions of vagabond literati running through my mind. If you make it to Boston, take a minute out of sight-seeing and high-end cocktailing to wax poetic with the locals over a long, cold brew. As Bukowski himself would agree, you never know you’ll find on the side of a freeway ramp.

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