7 Famous Literary Bars to Visit

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Top 7 Famous Literary Bars

by RoseMarie Parham

Top 7 Famous Literary Bars

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next holiday, you don’t need to look at holiday brochures or TripAdvisor – turn to your bookshelves instead. Have you ever wondered about the places that inspired your favourite writers, or where they used to spend their free hours? Some of the most famous authors liked to hang out with their fellow writers and enjoy a drink or two, and many of the bars they used to frequent still thrive to this day. And if you want to know where these bars are, I have come up with this handy infographic to help. It gives you the details of where to find some of the fascinating bars that have become strongly associated with the writers that used to drink there, including the year that each bar opened, and their addresses.

If you’re a fan of famous writers like Hemingway and Tolkien, you’ll probably know that when they weren’t working on their books, they often used to while away the time at a bar or two. Hemingway, for example, used to drink in bars all over the world. When in Cuba, he used to hang out at El Floridita in Havana, while in Madrid he would call in to the CerveceríaAlemana in Madrid (perhaps he bumped into Ava Gardner, who also used to drink there when she lived in Spain). And in Paris, Hemingway’s hangout was Les DeuxMagots. Many of the Parisian literary crowd used to frequent Les DeuxMagots; one may suppose that the conversations Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre would have there would be worth listening in on.

But there’s an intriguing fact that some of the literary bars have in common, aside from their association with famous writers: these bars have a history of their own. Some of them date back two centuries, to the era of Napoleon. In the case of the Eagle and Child, in Oxford, that history stretches back even further, as it opened its doors some time during the 17th century. And that’s one of the things that makes these bars so fascinating; they were around generations before our famous writers even first put pen to paper. Their walls hold so much history; so if you visit these bars, you’ll be drinking in the atmosphere as well as following in the footsteps of your literary heroes.

At a time when bars open and close every week, it’s remarkable that so many of these historic bars are still serving drinks to thirsty patrons after perhaps 200 years. Of course the association with these famous writers benefits the bars, but they must have plenty to keep today’s visitors coming. It’s extraordinary to think that if you drink at El Floridita, Les DeuxMagots, or the Literary Café in Saint Petersburg, you’re in establishments that first opened around the time of the battle of Waterloo. They were already over a century old when our famous writers first walked through the door.

New York offers two relative newcomers to the list of literary bars – new in relation to Les DeuxMagots or the Eagle and Child, anyway. The White Horse Tavern opened its doors in 1880, while the Old Town Bar has been serving patrons since 1892. If you’re a fan of contemporary writers like Nick Hornby and Frank McCourt, you should call in at the Old Town Bar. However, if your taste runs to the earlier generation of writers that includes Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer, the White Horse is the place to go. Poetry fans will also enjoy drinking in the place where noted imbiber Dylan Thomasachieved the perhaps dubious feat of breaking his own record for consumption. This involved downing a massive 18 shots of whiskey, and was the last time he would ever patronize the bar; it is hardly surprising that he expired the following day.

If you’re fascinated by Russian literature, then you really should head to Saint Petersburg and call into the Literary Café. Like the White Horse, this saw the last day of a famous writer, the poet Pushkin. He fought a number of duels during his life, and before his final (and fatal) one, spent some time at the Literary Café. It was also patronized by none other than Dostoyevsky. In 2016, the Literary Café celebrates its bicentenary, so that could be a good excuse to head there on your trip.

So visit these literary bars and imagine what it must have been like to drink with Hemingway and Jack Kerouac. You may not have had the stamina to keep up with Dylan Thomas (and you definitely shouldn’t try!), but you can sit in the same room, look around you, and picture these literary giants talking with their friends and discussing their latest works. How fascinating those days must have been!


7 Famous Literary Bars to Visit

About the Author:

RoseMarie Parham is a freelance designer, who currently works with infographics as a part of AssignmentMasters assignment writing team. You can contact her through email at rosemarieparham@gmail.com.

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