Through the Bar Window: An Examination of Alcohol and Drinking Spaces in the Archaeological Record

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Drinking spaces served one explicit purpose: the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Beyond this basic function, however, they performed many additional roles within the Atlantic World and beyond. They reinforced the social nature of drinking and promoted feelings of camaraderie, loyalty, and commiseration. Alcohol itself contributed to a loosening of inhibitions and subsequent lack of accountability (either feigned or real). Drinking spaces also stood as liminal spaces, allowing actions and conversation within their walls that were not approved of elsewhere. These institutions played host to informal economic deals, political discourse, rebellious schemes, and illicit meetings – especially between individuals not able to meet elsewhere. This session examines alcohol and drinking spaces archaeologically, covering institutions such as taverns, saloons, brothels, and molly houses in the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. It also examines those places involved in the production of alcohol, including plantations, distilleries, and breweries.

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  • Documents (6)

  • Beyond the Bar: The Consumption of Alcohol in Productive Spaces (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charlotte Goudge.

    The study of alcohol consumption has, in recent years, occupied much thought within modern academia. As a material culture, its ability to shed light on many social and economic themes has made alcohol consumption a vital part of human history. Places of consumption such as taverns have offered tantalising allusions to such themes as rebellion, subversion and freedom. However, alcohol consumption was not limited to those specialised spaces alone and was often consumed within the work and...

  • The Seventeenth-Century Brewhouse at Ferryland, Newfoundland (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Arthur R Clausnitzer Jr.

    Built between 1622 and 1623, the brewhouse structure at George Calvert’s Ferryland plantation stood for a about two decades, before being removed as part of David Kirke’s reorganization of the colony in the early 1640s. As beer and bread, which were also produced in the brewhouse, were staples of the English diet, this appeared to be an unusual choice. Analysis of the associated material culture and architectural remains provides insight into the organization of Calvert’s colony. It also...

  • Shining in the Tar Woods: An Examination of Illicit Liquor Distillation Sites in the Francis Marion National Forest (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Katherine G Parker.

    Hell Hole Swamp, located in Berkeley County, South Carolina, was home to some of the largest moonshine distillation operations in the nation during the Prohibition Era.  Although liquor distillation sites in the state date as early as the 1750s, few of these sites have been formally documented.  These sites may have only ephemeral remains due to short and clandestine periods of use, and can be frequently overlooked as modern debris or refuse scatters.  Utilizing archaeological models established...

  • "Swinging Doors": The Allure & Artifacts of Nineteenth-Century Saloons (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Megan Victor.

             The saloon is a fixture of the oft-romanticized ‘Wild’ American West. Featured in stories, movies, and television, it hosted some of the region’s most colorful characters. While many romantic notions of the West fall apart under scrutiny, a grain of truth exists where the saloon is concerned: it was a key institution on the nineteenth-century American frontier. Like the frontier itself, the saloon came about as a result of new influences mixing with old patterns. In the eighteenth...

  • Tavern Archaeology in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg, Virginia (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark Kostro.

    Taverns in eighteenth-century Williamsburg, Virginia ran the gamut from the refined to repugnant, from those catering to the delicate needs of politicians and colonial elites, to those offering basic room and board to road-weary travelers seeking to escape the elements.  As elsewhere, Williamsburg’s varied taverns were central places within the community where people regularly gathered to transact business, argue over politics, exchanged news of the day, plot political action, or just enjoy a...

  • Whither The Tavern Pattern? (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marley Brown III. Kathleen J. Bragdon.

    A rigorous vessel form comparison of two archaeological assemblages in the collections of Plimoth Plantation, those recovered from the Wellfleet tavern site on Great Island, and the Joseph Howland site, located in Kingston, Massachusetts, represented the first careful study of a tavern component in relation to a domestic one.  This paper evaluates the original interpretive framework of that early study, framed in terms of occupational differences of site owners, in view of the changing...