The earliest traces of alcohol that researchers have found are in China, on the inside of vases that are roughly 9,000 years old. The oldest known beer recipe, from a Sumerian poem, is about 4,000 years old. Clearly, then, for nearly as long as there have been people on this earth, they’ve been looking for a way to have a good time.
So after the recipes were perfected, where did people gather to imbibe? Possibly at some of these places: the oldest bars in the world.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest pub on the planet is Seans Bar, located in Athlone, Ireland. The establishment dates back to the year 900 AD, and has been serving travelers and locals alike since then. Although the pub was renovated in the 70s, the owners left a small section of the original structure on display.
The Bingley Arms is the oldest pub in Britain was established probably around 953 AD, just shortly after its Irish counterpart. Formerly called The Priests Inn, it was founded as a resting stop for monks travelling across the English countryside. Over its history it has also served as a courthouse and as a refuge for priests who feared persecution during the reign of King Henry VIII. Some people even believe it’s haunted.
Germany boasts the oldest continually operating brewery on the planet, which was begun by Benedictine monks in 1040 AD. One of its oldest bars, Brauhaus Sion, however, was opened a little later, in 1318. It is famous for Kölsch, a kind of beer which must be made in the region of Cologne in order to earn the name.
If you journey southward from these first three historic spots, you can find Al Brindisi, the oldest wine bar in Italy. It’s been operating since the Renaissance, though it’s original name was Hostaria del Chiucchiolino, which comes from an old northern Italian word for drunk. It’s located in Ferrara, the beloved city of Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto, who even mentioned it in one if his works in 1528.
Across the Atlantic, the oldest tavern in the U.S. is the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island. The name comes from the tradition of keeping a white horse outside buildings that served beer and food as a signal for people who couldn’t read. The bar also served as a meeting place for the Rhode Island colony officials until the official Colony House was built.