By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
June 7, 2010
Let's be clear at the outset. McGillin's is The PubScout's favorite Philly pub. Its age has a lot to do with that, because age and character often go hand in hand when it comes to pubs. When you come into the Drury St. ale house, you not only feel that character, you get the feeling that you're quaffing with all those who have sat in the room raising pints since it was the Bell-in-Hand.
And yesterday's No-Holds Barred, all-out Gala Bash celebrating 150 years of welcoming thirsty visitors was completely fitting, showing very clearly that the McGillin's folks know how to party. With Drury St. tented and shut down completely (at considerable expense, mind you) , revelers came from far and wide, attired in everything from formal wear to underwear. (See pic).
The food was plentiful and good, from bangers and mash, Shepherd's Pie (outstanding), Seafood Newburg, Pierogies, fat pretzels with mustard and Lord knows what else. The grog flowed freely, with McGillin's 1860 IPA (made by Stoudt's Brewing) seeming—and deserving-- to get the lion's share of attention. The Irish fiddler, Boston's Patsy Whalen, his partner on guitar and Bagpiper Sharon (a dead ringer for Carol Stoudt, I thought) set the tone for a wild Irish party, and their music seemed to captivate, as well as motivate, everyone, inside and out.
At least until the special guests showed up. With a Philly Police escort, up Chestnut St. they clopped majestically, their gold-studded harnesses, collars and traces sparkling in the late afternoon sunshine. Steered by two horsemen and guided by special handlers and perhaps the most recognizable Dalmatian in the country, the magnificently huge Budweiser Clydesdales turned onto Juniper St. to a loud roar of approval from the fest-goers at McGillin's who spilled out of the pub to witness the approach, and the awestruck astonishment of pedestrians who were unaware of the event. Say what you want about that pro football team from Texas, these horses are the real "America's Team." Chris Mullins, Sr. clad in a spiffy white tux jacket, salmon vest—and Bermuda shorts and sandals—leapt into the driver's seat to deliver a rousing call to celebration—if not sartorial creativity.
Everybody who was anybody was there, and I met and chatted with some delightful folks, from Joe SixPack (the inimitable Don Russell) himself, to Miles Moser and Jessica, Lance and Katrina, Kevin and Tricia. I also had the distinct pleasure of (finally) meeting Irene Levy Baker, the Spotlight PR whiz kid who looks like she just graduated high school. The self-effacing Irene had much to do with the success of this event, though she steadfastly refuses to take any of the credit. So It's up to me to give her some.
The party lasted from 5 PM until 8, supposedly, but I probably wouldn't be going out on a limb to say it was likely longer than that, and may still be going on. Even the weather, which had caused some early consternation about tornados, cooperated properly. In all, it was a well-planned, well-organized apt tribute to a Philly Phixture, attended by those for whom McGillin's holds a special affection.
Which presents a problem.
If McGillin's waits another 50 years to party like that, most of those present will already be at Pa McGillin's side at The Publick House in the Sky. So I pulled aside an excited, exasperated and emotionally spent Chris the Younger and suggested to him that he do a 151-year celebration.
He may still be laughing.
©Kurt E.Epps All rights reserved 2010