The Bell In Hand Tavern

Club / Historic Bar / Pub / Tavern
The Bell In Hand Tavern A Boston landmark dating back to 1795, The Bell In Hand Tavern – named after founder Jimmy Wilson, Boston's last town crier – claims to be America's oldest tavern. Boston United States 42.361411 -71.057087
4.07 6
The Bell In Hand Tavern - Club | Historic Bar | Pub | Tavern in Boston.
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Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review A Boston landmark dating back to 1795, The Bell In Hand Tavern – named after founder Jimmy Wilson, Boston’s last town crier – claims to be America’s oldest tavern. Housed in the same building since 1844, modern upgrades... ... read full review

  • T Stop:

    Green Line: Haymarket Station

  • Phone:

    617-227-2098

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    Daily 11:30am–2am (Main Bar), Tu–Sa 5pm–2am (Rest of venue)

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth The Bell In Hand Tavern Review

The Scene

A Boston landmark dating back to 1795, The Bell In Hand Tavern – named after founder Jimmy Wilson, Boston's last town crier – claims to be America's oldest tavern.

A Boston landmark dating back to 1795, The Bell In Hand Tavern – named after founder Jimmy Wilson, Boston’s last town crier – claims to be America’s oldest tavern.

Housed in the same building since 1844, modern upgrades have transformed the multilevel venue into equal parts pub and club.

Low lighting, polished mahogany furnishings, and a traditional wooden bar greet a relaxed daytime clientele of business people, tourists, and wayward students looking for good beer and New England comfort food, while later on, the downstairs area hosts raucous live acts that draw wild crowds of flirtatious twenty-something beer hounds ready to rock out to everything from traditional Irish folk music to high-profile cover bands.

A spiral staircase leads patrons upstairs to a spacious dance floor, where the weekend crush of party girls and club kids indulges in some drunken karaoke or grooves to whatever the nightly DJ decides to spin.

Two smaller bars on the upper level make it easier for patrons to drink and mingle without fighting their way through the masses.

Although the crowds are relatively sparse on most weeknights, weekends see lines of hip partiers waiting to flood into The Bell In Hand Tavern, a place whose something-for-everyone attitude makes it one of Boston’s coolest party spots.

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Tip from Emma:

There’s no better place for a night of chicken fingers, Bud Light, and some wild karaoke. If you want to avoid the line and the cover charge on Fridays and Saturdays, show up by 8:45pm – and save the money for a drink!

  • Crowd

    Business people during the day and early evening, 20s to 30s, and fratty post-college types, Emerson students, and tourists later on, mostly 20s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    DJs spin a mix of rap, rock, and pop Tuesdays through Saturdays. Karaoke on Tuesdays. Live cover bands and singer/songwriters Thursdays through Saturdays.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Menu of New England fare and typical bar grub, including clam chowder, burgers, and a seasonal lobster menu.

  • Prices

    Cover charge $5–$10/F–Sa from 9pm. Appetizers $7–$10, soups and salads $4–$10, entrées $8–$16. Beer $4.75/.33 liter or $7.75/.5 liter, wine $7–$10, cocktails $8–$12.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Upscale casual: jeans, heels, and dresses for women, and jeans, button-downs, and nice shoes for men.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Fridays and Saturdays for the biggest crowds and a packed dance floor.

  • Close By

    Several venues within short distances of each other on and around Union Street make the area perfect for a pub crawl before or after a night at The Bell In Hand Tavern. Pit stops include Purple Shamrock (1 Union Street), Green Dragon (11 Marshall Street), and Paddy O’s (33 Union Street).

The Bell In Hand Tavern User Reviews

Average rating:
Bell in Hand--All the Union St. Fun, Half the Price
Casey D. Apr 2, 2013
This fine establishment bookends the row of Union St. bars and is considered one of the “classier” establishments on the quintessential strip of college drinking hotspots (though the Union Oyster House and Green Dragon also add some historical and class appeal). I have fond memories of this place for: 1. It was usually the starting point of my college’s unofficial pub crawl (Go Friars!). As such, it is a great venue for some relaxed day drinking—airy, low key rock music playing, good finger foods, and 2. It has cheap 22 oz. pours! While that may not seem like a huge advantage, for the downtown area it’s a big plus that, when nighttime comes around, coincides with 3. No cover charge on weekends. As I mentioned, Bell in Hand is at the end of a row of college-oriented bars, which immediately means that you can expect to pay a cover charge when Friday rolls around. Bell in Hand (and The Tap) wisely decide to forgo this, making it a good alternative bar for young professionals going out on a budget. Plus, they regularly book some decent cover bands and if you’re really in the mood for some dancing, but without the club atmosphere, there is a dance floor upstairs, and it’s usually just a modest cover charge to get up there.
Afternoon or Night
Dan M. Nov 28, 2012
The Bell in Hand is one of my favorite destinations in Boston. Whether I am there to watch an afternoon Red Sox game with friends or if I am there at night dancing to music, I am never disappointed. The oldest tavern in America was a place where Americans earliest leaders met, but now The Bell in Hand is a place where you and your friends can meet. I find myself craving the Sam Adams Burger and a tall Bud Light at least once a month and I always make plans as soon as possible for an lunch trip. For nighttime entertainment, they offer a variety of options. If you would like to see a live music, move to the main room. If you would like to dance to a DJ, upstairs is the place to be. If you would like to talk with your group of friends, the side room will provide a less noisy space to do so. I highly recommend The Bell in Hand.
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