PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You may be shocked. But, spirits, mugs, drinking songs and a bit of boisterous behavior were always part of the military experience. After all, the U.S. Marine Corps was born in a Philadelphia Tavern. George Washington bid farewell to his officers in a New York drinking house. Where does this all lead? If you’re a Vet or on a getaway with one this Veterans Day weekend, let’s look at a few of the service themed eateries and tippling spots that might be worth a visit.
Fraunces Tavern is not far from the docks where the last Redcoats sailed from American shores with the creation of an independent nation, drawn from a clutch of colonies. This is where Washington said, “Farewell” to his officers. The tavern which had served as an important meeting place in launching the revolution still serves fine food and spirits at the original Lower Manhattan location. It is now attached to a small museum that honors those who crafted the traditions of a modern United States Army.
MARINES – TUN TAVERN
It was 242 years ago this week that a small waterfront Philadelphia Tavern was the backdrop for the formation of the first unit of the United States Marine Corps. There, on Front Street between Walnut and Chestnut, a historical marker signals the history that made here as the Marines were created and modeled on their British counterparts to become “soldiers and sailors, too.”. Their purpose was to fire from the tops of masts during battles at sea and storm enemy shores in action on land. The tavern is long gone, but in the same block, you’ll find the Victoria Freehouse Pub. OK. It is British themed, but does serve up fare and brews that would have been typical of the day. And it’s within sight of the Marine and Navy manned Battleship New Jersey and Cruiser Olympia.
As the youngest of our services, the U.S. Air Force doesn’t have a vintage Faunce Tavern. But it does have some of the best base clubs. Unfortunately you have to be a guest or have military access. But the next best Air Force themed sippery is no farther than Reading, Pennsylvania. You’ll find Klingers and it’s fighter plane logo at the Reading Airport right near the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum that features aircraft flown by all the services and long forgotten airlines. If you’re looking for an Air Force Veterans Day ceremony, head for Dover, Delaware and the Air Mobility Command Museum. Then try to score an invite to Mulligans.
When I think of a bustling, active east coast Navy town, it’s Norfolk, Virginia. But for history and the trappings of tradition, Annapolis, Maryland is the magnet. The United States Naval Academy and the last resting place of John Paul Jones are here. And the spirits of America’s Navy and Marine heroes still walk these streets. The best spot for communing with fellow veterans is the Fleet Reserve Club right on “Ego Alley” at Compromise Street. But it is a club, so you will need a guest invitation or the next best thing, step next door to Pussers Rum Bar for a view of the Academy. A good weekend here is any one when Navy football is at home.
It was Alexander Hamilton who formed the early units of the Coast Guard in 1790, making it America’s oldest seagoing service. Since 1948, virtually all east coast recruits began life in the fleet at the Cape May, NJ Training Center. Now, all do. I was trained there in 1952 and return often. The C-View Inn, just down the street has been the backdrop for Coast Guard gatherings since then and still is. Gone is the badly painted, but much-loved Coast Guard mural behind the vintage mahogany bar. But the memories of locals and returning vets are still spilled here, along with the beer. And Cape May has been officially designated as a Coast Guard community.
To all Vets: A toast to your service.