The Spirit of '77     gray logo           

Story and Photography by Chris Poh

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”
                                                                - Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)

On December 5th, 1933 the modern age of publicly licensed tippling in the United States was ushered in. With the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution, the ill-conceived notion of legislating sound judgment and temperance was hopefully forever put to rest. The millions of Americans that had become part of the new criminal class could emerge from the shadows and speakeasies with glass in hand, to be welcomed back into the fold of law-abiding citizens. While I am immensely grateful to those that possessed the political acumen and good sense to put an end to the Volstead Act, it is mostly those pre-Prohibition era establishments that have been the source of my well-being and occasional inspiration.

As one might suspect from the name of this publication, American Public House Review, I much prefer the confines of the eighteenth and nineteenth century tavern. For me there is nothing more pleasing than consuming a quality pint of ale in those rooms where the rebels, rascals and raconteurs that shaped this country took their leave and libations. So during a recent excursion to the city of Boston, David McBride and I assigned ourselves the pleasant task of spending time at some of those celebrated drinking houses where the spirit of ‘76 was exercised with enthusiastic abandon. But with the exception of the Warren Tavern in Charlestown, we were somewhat disappointed by our other choices.

Perhaps it was the unremitting frigid gale off the harbor, the overwhelming crush of Christmastime tourists, or just the competing noise from too many flat screens, but neither one of us was able to get in touch with our inner enlightened insurrectionist during our pub crawl along Boston’s Freedom Trail. We returned to our hotel worn out and dejected. But in the spirit of those indefatigable and brave Bostonians that suffered through the deprivations and hardships of the British occupation, we decided to press on.

I explained our crisis to the woman behind the front desk. I made it clear that it was imperative that our sanity and survival was dependent upon finding that perfect Beantown tavern. Without hesitation she instructed us to take our sorry selves to 77 Charles Street. From the moment we entered The Sevens, I knew that we had a found an excellent home for the evening.

Since opening its doors in 1933, this simple pearl of a pub has seen its loyal patrons through times of tribulation and great joy. And like any good community institution, The Sevens is an extension of family for the locals and a welcoming refuge for those who venture here from beyond the boundaries of this stately Beacon Hill neighborhood.

 At some point during the night, I commented to Dave how the energy and atmosphere at The Sevens reminded me of the bar depicted on the popular television sitcom Cheers. It was only after a later conversation that I learned that the show’s production team had originally scouted two or three other locations before deciding to shoot the exterior shots using the former Bull and Finch Pub (now renamed as Cheers Beacon Hill). It seems that The Sevens had the right feel, but not the correct physical dimensions that the producers were looking for. As a rather intriguing aside, the show was almost cancelled during its first season when it was ranked dead last during the premier (77th out of 77shows). Perchance the gods of Charles Street were voicing their opinion about the apparent snub.

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons    
Cheers in Boston Ma as seen in American Public House Review
Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts

For the last thirty-five years the bar has been in the very capable hands of Jack Kiley. This extremely affable publican ascribes to my philosophy of ownership. “Treat your staff well and they will do so in kind.” And that disposition and kindness will ultimately be showered upon the clientele. That was certainly our experience during our stay in Boston. This New England town long considered “The Cradle of Liberty” had given rise to a public house that can be best described as— “The Cradle of Congeniality.”

The Sevens

77 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

(617) 523-9074 ‎

(No Website)


The Sevens in Boston, MA as seen in AmericanPublic House Review
Faneuil Hall in Boston

The Sevens in Boston Ma as seen in American Public House Review

The Sevens Bar in Boston Ma as seen in American Public House Review

Patrons at The Sevens in Boston, Ma

AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW text, images, and music © All rights reserved.
All content is subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. Email: ed.petersen@americanpublichousereview.com for permission before use.