We aim to present all sides of Lowell in “Learning Lowell,” and we realized we had sadly been neglecting its nightlife. To remedy this, we invited anyone interested for a “Learning Lowell Pub Crawl,” an exploration of five establishments throughout downtown. We chose our destinations by word of mouth and our own curiosity, and made a plan to visit one each hour. We were happy to have a few folks join us! Here now we recreate our thoughts and reactions upon experiencing each pub.
Aurora: I am super-psyched to be in this bar; I’ve been wanting to come here since moving to Lowell. Poe, Kerouac, super old. This is what I was picturing when I moved to New England. And the atmosphere lives up to my expectations! Tin ceilings, wood paneling, woodcut reprints on the walls. What a cool place.
Chris: …and the first thing that happens is that someone asks if we’re tourists. At least we can say we live downtown. Do you think that gives us any street cred?
Aurora: No, I do not. That dude did not think we were cool at all. But he was just being helpful, letting us know they’ll turn on the historic belt-driven fans if we ask. He tells us tourists often come in just to see the fans. And when he told him what we’re doing, he suggested Friends Restaurant across the street.
Chris: Between that and Reservations, we’ll need to do a “Part II” someday. Anyway, what to drink?
Aurora: I figured first stop, keep it simple. PBR.
Chris: Everyone’s excited about Yuengling coming to MA. Why not join in the excitement?
Aurora: The best thing is absolutely the atmosphere. I feel like this place hasn’t changed in 100 years. In a good way.
Chris: This looks like great bar food. Cheese sticks, sweet potato fries, and fried pickles!
Aurora: But, wow, visiting here made me feel like the tourist I was.
Chris: Nah, I could come here for a late night snack and drink. But I don’t know if I’d find anyone to talk about beat poetry here. That’s what Jack Kerouac did all the time, right?
Chris: Wow, what a switch! Did we wander into a New England aristocrat’s house?
Aurora: This definitely seems like a place that serves lobster. Oh man, truffle fries? What? We are ordering these.
Chris: The lounge is already packed and its only 8 pm. How are other pub crawlers going to find us? We should have made a sign!
Aurora: And just as we start to worry about this: two total strangers approach and introduce themselves. They’d moved to Lowell a few months ago and found our blog. I am not sure what’s crazier: having a blog that is read by people we have not met or having a conversation in which we’re not the Lowell newbies.
Chris: Three ciders to choose from. Who knew Harpoon had a cider?
Aurora: Of course, I have to order the Truffle Fries. Oh my gosh, they are amazing. I will come back just for these. I also order a delicious (but not as memorable) cider.
Chris: Best thing? This definitely feels like the fanciest place downtown, and with so many appetizers I’d love to try.
Aurora: This is definitely delicious… and slightly indulgent.
Chris: Right. But, you know, for a place called Cobblestones, there’s only a handful of them outside on the patio.
Aurora: It’s probably too fancy for my blood, at least on the regular. Oh, wow, how can it be time to go already?! Onto Fuse!
Aurora: Finally, one I’ve been to before. Familiar ground at last. And… they’re totally stuffed with people. One of the lessons for me tonight is that there are a ton of people doing the Friday night thing downtown, something you don’t see as much on the weekdays.
Chris: Some folks are nice enough to donate half their table and chairs to our cause. There are a lot of unique dishes—their website says it bridges “traditional tavern fare and fine dining,” which I can only assume is what is being fused. And the crowd here is so diverse.
Aurora: Our waitress recommends the Root Beer Float, which has marshmallow vodka in it. It seemed so innocent, and then my tongue went numb.
Chris: With Root Beer Floats and Oatmeal Cookie Maritinis, I feel boring with a seasonal Blackberry Sangria.
Chris: Our server is rad, but that’s always been my experience here.
Aurora: I love silly cocktails. Reason enough to love Fuse.
Aurora: The bad part is that I can’t always afford silly cocktails. But even worse, we’re behind schedule!
Aurora: You know, I love that Old Court has this low-key, nice, mellow vibe.
Chris: I agree, I’ve always thought of Old Court as an after-work pint place.
Aurora: And I’ll just open the door, and… OH MY GOSH! Who are these people? Young kids? Students?
Chris: And are those guys in matching T-Shirts? Did we run into another pub crawl? That’s what we should have done! Learning Lowell T-Shirts! Then nobody would think we were tourists.
Aurora: Next time! This is really fun!
Chris: Well, we’ve done beers, ciders, and fancy cocktails. I think this atmosphere calls for hard liquor, served simply.
Aurora: After very gradually fighting our way to the front, I get a gin and tonic. It’s loud enough that the bartender holds up fingers to tell me how much it is.
Chris: I’ll get a Jack on the rocks, although in an Irish bar, maybe I should have gotten a Jameson’s!
Aurora: Hmm. We got a little off schedule, so our time here is limited. Too busy for me tonight.
Chris: I still love the murals on the walls of this place. Someone put a lot of care into this.
Aurora: We should definitely come before 10:00 pm next time. I’m ready to head in a more hipsterly direction: On to Ward 8!
Chris: Why are we stopping? It looks like a party!
Aurora: The bouncer says that it’s at capacity. “The Howl something-or-other.”
Chris: Those howlers! What should we do now?
Aurora: A few folks have been advocating for Cappy’s Copper Kettle. It’s right across the street, and all I know is that it’s next to WCAP radio station. Let’s try it.
Aurora: This place is enormous! I would have had no idea that this was so big.
Chris: And pretty amazing. A dance floor, wood paneling and neon bar signs everywhere, and a live DJ. Everyone here is having a ball: dancing, drinking, and chatting.
Aurora: I think I’ll end the night like I started it: with a PBR.
Chris: That sounds perfect. But I’d also like to order a dance with you.
Aurora: Aww, haha.
Aurora: The music selection in here is amazing. Michael Jackson, Runaround Sue, Lionel Richie.
Chris: It is, indeed, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. And I appreciate that nobody’s afraid to dance. What a great way to end the night.
Aurora: Yeah, but the worst part is that it’s time for the night to end.
Chris: Don’t worry, we can always do a sequel to visit all the places we missed.