Wednesday, April 2, 2008
What Is The World's Best Pub?
I'm going to go ahead and break the suspense by telling you that the answer is the Philharmonic Pub in Liverpool, England. Now the question becomes why I think it's the best. First, it's English. Sure, Germany has its famous beer halls, and you can find some mighty nice pubs in Scandinavia. Even here in America we have some world-class joints. But to me nobody beats English and Irish pubs (at least the 5% or so of them that are good). It's so woven into their society that it's hard to describe what makes them special, but they are. Take the Philharmonic. Look at this panoramic shot of the pub and it gives you only a slight sense of how amazing this place is. See that floor next to the bar and down the hallway? Those are hand-painted mosaics, each about 1 inch X 1 inch. Even the restrooms have those mosaics. You only barely get a sense of the amazing wood work in the picture, again all carved by hand. Plus, it still has the old style Victorian rooms. The place was built by out-of-work ship builders in the late nineteenth century. These people weren't just carpenters, they were artists. The picture to the right is of the entrance. Have you ever seen a bar with a better entryway?
Now, you might be asking how the beer selection is. Good, but not great. But who cares? This place is so amazing to have a drink in you could be drinking a Miller Lite and still feel like aristocracy. Now that's what makes a great pub.
I used to think the best pub was The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast. Follow the link to see pictures of this place. It's older than the Philharmonic and also has a spectacular interior (see below), just not quite as good. Plus the Crown Liquor sold out a bit. They have displays from big breweries and other stuff cluttering the great views. They also have "fruit machines", little gambling machines common in pubs throughout the UK. In fact, I developed a rule on how to instantly tell how good a pub is, for those of you that have trips to the UK or Ireland in your future. Look how many fruit machines the place has. If it has three or more, walk back out. Two means the pub is so-so. One is above average. And if it has no fruit machines, you've hit the jackpot.
Of course, I haven't seen them all. Anybody seen a better pub?