Courtesy Dinner SeriesAs we come into the full swing of the Christmas and Hanukkah season we are reminded of and partake in some of our most cherished traditions.  From decorating the Christmas tree to decorating the house, the lighting of the menorah, spinning the dradle and holiday gatherings spent with friends and family, it truly is a season of traditions and holiday spirit.  Of course with holiday gatherings come holiday drinks with none more popular than Eggnog.

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LenoxloungeIt was announced last week that the Lenox Lounge is closing.

The Lenox Lounge is a jazz bar in Harlem, New York that was originally opened in 1939.

The place played host to such rising acts as Billie Holliday, Miles Davis and John Coltrain. It was also a favorite hangout spot for celebrities like Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Langston Hughes.

As a bar it's importance can't be understated. In the black community it provided an outlet for young performers to polish their skills before moving on to bigger venues. For the working men and women of Harlem, it was a spot they could go to in their community, where they were safe and sharing in their culture, beliefs and values.

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Some historic bar signs have surpassed simply noting the existence of a good watering hole, and have entered the realm of pure art! These are the signs that have been around for years and by which others are measured and compared. These are copied by cheap imitators who attempt to game their fame.

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Have you ever heard of the Crypt of Civilization? Neither had I until just recently. But if you’re a history AND beer buff, it has a great story.

The Crypt—essentially a large time capsule filled with a “record of civilization” was built at Oglethorp University in Atlanta Georgia and sealed in 1940.

The contents are varied, and include microfiilm and microfilm readers, voice recordings, evidence of technology of that period from companies like Eastman Kodak, and examples of our culture.

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The saloon is synonomous with the old west. You can't have one without the other. How would history have been different if John Wayne had bellied up to the bar in an English pub (of course he did in The Quiet Mad, but that's another matter).

But what are the best saloons in America to visit? Well, after a year's worth of travel we think we've found the top 3 best historic saloons in the United States.

In no significant order they are:

3. Heinold's First and Las Chance, Oakland, California

img 1103Opened in 1883 by German immigrant Johnnie Heinold, this place is a living legend. During the wild west days of the Bay Area, the place saw captains of whaling ships and sea lion hunting ships shainghai drunks and other nefarias episodes. 

The place was also the savior of one of America's best writers, Jack London. Growing up poor on the street Jack London was befriended by the owner who allowed him to come inside out of the rain when he was 10. Jack got the inspiration for many of his best stories from the place.

Spend time looking at the decor and notice the crooked bar (and floor). Watch our documentary of Heinold's here.

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