Longfellow's Wayside Inn
"Here in the popular resort, the old bar-room, nightly sat the miscellaneous groups made of teamster, horse-jockeys, traveling agents, itinerant showmen, cattle drivers, peddlers, or mysterious strangers. Never a night passed but the blaze from the broad hearth glowed and glanced upon the faces of the motley crew that assembled there. The discussions that arose, the stories told, the jokes that were cracked, as the foaming flip went round, have never been placed on record. Forsooth, 'A jolly place in times of old.'" - "The Red Horse Tavern," Harper's Monthly, 1880 (a description of the Wayside Inn's old bar room)
Old Bar room, Longfellow's Wayside Inn
There are few places that I step foot into and wish to never leave, and the bar room at Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts is one of those places. There is something about that room that envelops me, relaxes me, and has me wishing to linger forever. It's not the booze. Even if I wasn't a drinker, I'd feel at home there. The history of the place and the happy memories from hundreds of years settles into my bones and puts me at ease.
It is believed the Wayside Inn was built around 1702, originally as a two-room house, and the bar room is one of those original rooms. When the house officially become a tavern in 1716, it began its 300 year history of hosting travelers. With strong drinks, a warm fire, a plate of food, and a bed to lie in, the tavern was a constant flurry of activity and merriment. And you can feel it. It draws you in.
Marvin, the bartender in the old bar room, is yet another element that makes this a place you never want to leave. Witty and engaging, he has been bar-tending for 40 years and has come up with his own concoctions over the years. I've witnessed him whip up something unique and delicious when a costumer asks him to make whatever he thinks they'll like. One such drink, he called a Caribbean cooler, which is a mix of dark rum, white rum, apricot schnapps, orange juice, pineapple, juice, and a dash of grenadine. Once I saw him make that for another customer, I ordered one myself. (And he makes one mean martini and meeting house punch, as well!)
I usually find myself going to the bar room on a friday, and as the day wears on, the tables fill up. The small room creates an atmosphere of friendly community, as strangers talk and laugh together. It's the sort of place you don't often find in the modern world. It feels as if you're in another time and place, where strangers quickly become friends over a pint and a roaring fire.
On friday afternoons, music is also played and sung, and often you will hear customers singing along with the entertainment.
Lemon drop martini and cheese plate
Longfellow's Wayside Inn serves delicious food and provides comfortable lodging as well, but if you don't have time for those, do not hesitate to walk through the threshold of the 300 year old colonial, and step back in time in the bar room for a good drink, friendly company, and an atmosphere you can't find anywhere else. And be sure to say hello to Marvin, and maybe ask him to make you one of his special concoctions.