For Bruce and me, celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary by having a gourmet dinner with an impressively crafted cocktail in a 200 year old tavern was our idea of a wonderful time! Enhancing the romance of the evening was the mystery of the place. A Renovations in the 1930s had discovered 3 skeletons and a jeweled dagger behind a wall close to the fireplace! The story is that one set of bones belonged to Madeline, the original owner’s mistress. The reason for the other two skeletons and the dagger is not known, but what perfect material for a great ghost story, and anniversary dinner!
King’s Tavern was constructed in 1769 using beams from scrapped New Orleans sailing ships and barges that had come down the Mississippi River. Richard King purchased the home in 1789 and turned the home into a boarding house and Tavern. The rustic but elegant farm table interior with ancient wooden walls helped transport us back to the late 1700’s! Now owned and run by Regina Charboneau, a nationally known chef from San Francisco, the farm-to-table concept menu completed the bucolic experience. Watching the mixologist make our drinks at the bar was like watching a chemist putting on a performance, and the drinks, lived up to their exciting build up!
Finding the oldest bar in Alabama was a bit of a challenge. When I read the history of T.P. Crockmiers which is credited as the oldest bar, I saw that it was originally established in Atlanta, GA and then moved to Alabama. I felt that starting off in a different state disqualified Crockmiers so I researched further and discovered the Peerless Saloon. It was established in Alabama and was also the first bar built to serve alcohol in grand style, after a bitter dispute over the legalization of alcohol had ended in Anniston. The owner, Robert E. Garner was a philanthropist who bought Old Wildcat Whisky by the barrel and sold it at the Peerless in bottles from his own glass factory. The Saloon sat empty for a few years in the 1980’s, but after being registered in as a historic building on the National registry, it finally reopened in 1992, preserving the vintage ambiance remarkably well.
The massive mahogany bar dominates the atmosphere as soon as you walk through the door. This impressive mirror backed piece of history was purchased from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and has adorned the Peerless since it was installed in 1906. Our bartender, Donny was more than enthusiastic to talk about the history of the bar including the rumors of the ghost of Lucinda who had thus far eluded him. Lucinda was the Madame of the upstairs brothel and was shot and killed by police in 1919. She still haunts her former brothel upstairs as she lounges bare bodied in the portrait above the bar in the beautiful room with four original fireplaces elegantly lining the walls. Before we ended our visit, Mickey, who had served us earlier at the Peerless grill next door joined us for a final toast.
Since T.P. Crockmiers is given credit as the oldest bar, we couldn’t leave Alabama without at least checking it out. T.P. Crockmiers has moved several times since it was originally established and has now landed on Dauphin Street in Mobile. The street reminded me of New Orleans' French and Italian style buildings which are ornately adorned with wrought iron railings. We weren’t surprised to learn from our bartender that Mobile takes credit for the origination of Mardis Gras and even has its own Mardis Gras museum. One interesting note about Mobile, AL is that when it became evident that the prohibition law may pass, Mobile’s Mayor led a delegation to Montgomery to prevent the law and even the President of the Bank of Mobile wired legislators to let them know that if prohibition passes, Mobile was ready to secede from the state.
The founder of Crockmiers was Thaddeus P. Crockmier, a professional gambler and son of a wealthy plantation owner who wanted to build the most unique restaurant in the south. He started the restaurant on Peachtree Street in Atlanta in 1875 before it eventually moved to Alabama. I enjoyed one of their specialties, the Conecuh burger, in which the ground beef is mixed with Conecuh sausage. T.P. Crockmiers had good food and a friendly atmosphere but the highlight was the delightful surprise of its charming location in the historic section of Mobile, Alabama.
Most of these posts are written by Cheryl and edited and added to by Bruce. Learn more about us on our About us page.