150 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Mass. 02108
The Improper Bostonian described the 21st Amendment as “the neighborhood’s de facto clubhouse… it attracts an eclectic crowd, ranging from blue collar to blueblood.” Quite an accomplishment, when that neighborhood is Boston’s finely historic Beacon Hill.
Nestled among brownstones and narrow, cobblestone streets in the shadow of Boston’s new State House, the 21st Amendment (named for the Amendment which repealed Prohibition) is everything it ought to be: old, dimly lit, and unassuming. The crowd ranges, as noted, from residents wearing sweatshirts, boat shoes and Nantucket baseball caps, to state and city politicians, Suffolk University law students, and young professionals who set their Blackberrys on the bar. A beaten copper fireplace is lit in the winter, and sits in the back room against a fieldstone wall. The State House used to employ a “runner,” whose only job was to walk across the street to the bar and remind lingering politicians when a vote was going on.
The bar that regulars call “21 A” sits on a site originally designed for an 1899 hotel, which housed the men-only Bellevue Pub (later the Golden Dome Pub), and boasted running water and electricity. Hotel guests included Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Lindbergh, and Bellevue Pub regulars included Winston Churchill and Joe Kennedy. Though the hotel is long gone, 21 A thankfully remains, and retains the same boisterous refinement it’s always been known for. It’s enough to overlook the fact that the bar offers John Kerry’s favorite hamburger, the “21st Burger.”