Drinking with family

By LIZA WEISSTUCH  |  May 9, 2011

main_12bens_480

TWELVE BENS

315 ADAMS STREET, DORCHESTER | 617.265.6727

A copy of the 2001 edition of The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Gaelic Football and Hurling is kept behind the bar at the Twelve Bens. Its jacket is gently tattered around the edges, and droplets of beer have been wiped off a page or two. It's Saturday, and a discussion is turning into a dispute: Barry, 40, an expat from County Mayo, wants prove to a pal that Offaly trumped Galway to clinch the 1985 hurling title. (Hurling is like lacrosse. Sort of.) Mike Mannion, 35, reflexively hands the book across the bar.

"It solves a lot of arguments," Mike shrugs as he breezes past me to deliver the beers. There may be arguments here, but there aren't fights. Ever. Mike's brother, John, 36, assures me their father, Gabe, doesn't tolerate it. One way he preserves a relaxed atmosphere is by not having a Keno machine, or anything else that dispenses disappointment for a price.

There's also a "No Gambling" sign posted by the kitchen window. "Dad says guys drinking don't wanna see people spending money," John says.

People sit along all four sides of the bar here. John typically holds down the fort in the daytime. Mike takes over around 5 pm. Gabe, a Galway native, is in and out. He says these days are quieter than when he bought the bar in 1982, after working at the Eire for a decade.

Way before Gabe took ownership, Paulie was already stopping in regularly for a drink. The retired general contractor is a lively septuagenarian. "I've been drinking here since I was 16," he says one recent afternoon. "I've got Italian blood in me." Most days he drifts in around one, has a beer, and leaves. Gone are the days of a beer and ball. (That's vintage lingo for a beer and a shot, typically Old Thompson.)

John, of course, gets Paulie's drink ready when he sees him walk in. John has an engineering degree from Mass Maritime Academy and is presently in nursing school. He has three children. He has no plans to give up his shifts.

"I'd rather do this than what I'm qualified to do," he confesses. "It's hard to get away. And at this point, it's a borderline social life."

Liza Weisstuch can be reached at lizashayne@yahoo.com.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  | 
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Cambridge, Dorchester, Anthony Bourdain,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY LIZA WEISSTUCH
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   HAYMARKET, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL  |  November 28, 2012
    The cab driver looked puzzled as he dropped me off on North Street, which runs the periphery of Haymarket Square. At 5:20 am, it was still dark, but the bustle on Haymarket's Blackstone Street had begun about two hours earlier.
  •   WHISKEY A GO GO  |  September 18, 2012
    Whiskey has inspired — and inebriated — musicians across eras and genres.
  •   BOSTON’S UNSUNG HEROES MAKE SURE YOU NEVER HAVE TO LEAVE HOME TO GET FED  |  April 30, 2012
    At any given hour, on any given day, legions of foot soldiers are negotiating traffic on Boston's gnarly maze of streets.
  •   BOSTON BARTENDERS BUST UP THE BIG EASY  |  August 24, 2011
    There was a wedding, a funeral (for the Long Island Iced Tea), fried alligator, mechanical bulls, and Ron Jeremy on harmonica. Boston bartenders, who were there in full force, can attest to all of it.
  •   BAR ROOM BLITZ  |  July 27, 2011
    "TOTC" stands for Tales of the Cocktail, an annual drinks conference held each July in New Orleans.

 See all articles by: LIZA WEISSTUCH