One of JP's oldest bars could be closing forever

Boston Restaurant Talk reports it's looking like curtains - possibly by the end of the month - for the Drinking Fountain on Washington Street, a bar that has been open for decades and whose patrons take breaks outside on a bench bookended by wooden bear statues.



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I haven't been to the Drinking Fountain for at least five years, but this makes me really sad. Like cars with standard transmission, living WW2 vets and landlines, the unpretentious neighborhood dive bar in Boston (especially JP) is an endangered species.

Ah yes, the classic "I haven

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Ah yes, the classic "I haven't patronized this business in years, but I'm sad it's closing because I liked to know that it was theoretically possible for me or someone else to patronize it!" lament.

If you really like a place, stop by every once in a while. Maybe if everyone who was sad about a place closing did that, they wouldn't close.

Well, I hear what you're

Well, I hear what you're saying. To be honest though, I try not to drink too much these days, if at all. At some point after I turned 40, I came to the shocking realization that for as much as I enjoyed my booze, it kinda makes me act like an asshole (even more of one than I am normally....) and was responsible for a lot of truly awful decisions over the years. But I can assure you that if I did still hit the sauce on the reg, I would head straight down to the ol' Drinking Fountain and have a few shots of Jamo and wash em down with a few cold brews in honor of you and all of the wise and astute regular UHub commenters. May the road rise with you!

"What a drag it is getting old."

This is like watching your cool old uncle -- the one that turned you on to The Clash and gave you a fistful of fat machine-rolled joints for your 16th birthday -- moving to Florida to run out the clock, where you'll hardly ever get to hang out with him anymore.

Goddamn it all to hell. Too bad it's a fallen world.

Between this

And the sugary alcohol thing from earlier this week, you should be giving commencement speeches.

I don't always mourn the closing of Old Man Bars.

An early piece I wrote for Dig Boston (my first regular food-and-drink writing perch), while extolling the virtues of some beloved, bygone old gin mills (oh, Jack Lynch's Webster Lounge!), took a somewhat contrarian position on the subject.

I don't feel this way about The Drinking Fountain, the closing of which I'm cursing like fuck the same way I did about the Quencher Tavern, my local when I lived in City Point. They're two of a kind: a very specific sort of hoary old joint that, once gone, leaves an irreparable rent in the fabric of the old neighborhood.

They're just not making them like that anymore, and unlike the Kentucky Tavern on Newbury Street, there isn't a movie like The Friends of Eddie Coyle to immortalize them. I tried to get by Old Sully's in Charlestown the other night: pretty sure the "closed for vacation" sign means it's done for good. Light a candle for the memory of TC Haviland's Lounge, and get a shot and a beer at Paddy's Lunch while you still can.

(Thanks for the kind words, Will. "Wear sunscreen.")


I lived near the place for a year. Of course, I was only 20 years old that year, so I never went in. I discovered quickly upon moving to the area that I was on the wrong side of the Charles, and ended up in Brighton, where I've been since.

People die, people change

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I am sad that other businesses which were around for decades close. But when an owner wants to retire and there is no one to take their place it is inevitable. With The Drinking Fountain I can see this as a changing neighborhood, not least of all due to the economics of JP. Dive bars serve as much a purpose as a gushy tavern that serves fancy drinks made with fermented beet juice.

I wonder whether dive bars in general are so to speak aging out.

In East Baltimore the joke was that on the ends of each block there was a church and a bar. Church for the women and children (and men when demanded) and bars for the men. But these bars added value. For immigrants during the European immigration some of them were actually gathering placed for male immigrants that helped them assimilate. For families where the parents no longer liked each other much (but where divorce was impossible such as Catholic marriages) bars provided a place for men to go and relief for wives (especially men who drank too much although hanging out a in a bar obviously doesn't help that problem).

Gay bars followed the same trajectory. There are far fewer gay bars than in their heyday of the 70s and 80s largely because there are far more ways to socialize. When what was virtually the only public place to socialize, to just be around other gay people, were bars then the demand was satisfied with a supply. There still are gay bars but far fewer.

On the other hand having a late night place in a neighborhood helps keep activity on the street. So having a bar around can be good just for the sake of a safer neighborhood.

My favorite part of this bar is the bench with bears. I like seeing those guys when I am walking around the area.

My Drinking Fountain Memory is

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I remember driving past the bar after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007: there was a very large, inebriated man cheering and waving a broom. It was a joyous time in the 'hood.

Sad to see it go

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A friend who liked drinking there passed away about a year ago and the bartended let us keep a stool for him. That's sad to see it go.