June 26, 2009 / 3:47 AM / 10 years ago

Travel Picks: World's 10 most legendary bars

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Bars, pubs, and taverns of the world can hold as much history as any museum and present as much drama as any theater.

A traditional "last orders" bell is seen behind a bar in London, November 23, 2005. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) have come up with a list of the world’s 10 most legendary bars. This list is not endorsed by Reuters.

“Generally speaking, bars aren’t the first stop on most tourists’ lists of places to see, but when you learn about the people they inspired and the events for which they were the backdrop, they become incredibly culturally significant,” said VirtualTourist.com’s General manager Giampiero Ambrosi.

1. Harry’s Bar; Venice, Italy

Since opening in 1931, Harry’s Bar has been frequented by famous people such as Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Noel Coward, Orson Wells, Charlie Chaplin, and Peggy Guggenheim. The bar also claims credit for inventing the Bellini and Carpaccio.

2. The Blind Beggar; London, England

The Blind Beggar in Whitechapel, built in 1894, is known as the site on which The Salvation Army started but became even more notorious when, in 1966, London gangster Ronnie Kray shot rival George Cornell as he sat at the bar.

3. White Horse Tavern; New York City, New York

A favorite of New York’s literati set, The White Horse has seen everyone from Jack Kerouac to Norman Mailer pass through its doors but is perhaps best known as being the bar that served the 18 whiskeys said to have killed Dylan Thomas.

4. Garota de Ipanema; Rio de Janerio, Brazil

When a fifteen-year-old girl made a stroll past the Veloso bar part of her daily walk to the beach, legend has it she inspired two song-writing patrons to pen possibly the most famous bossa nova tune in history — “The Girl from Ipanema.” Not surprisingly, the bar’s owners made the wise decision to capitalize on the success by re-naming the business.

5. The Pub; Valletta, Malta

The walls of this simple bar are covered in pictures, newspaper clippings, and impromptu tributes to British actor Oliver Reed who was said to have died just after consuming vast amounts of alcohol there while on location for the movie “Gladiator.” A sign outside the bar reads “Ollie’s Last Pub.”

6. Heinolds’ First and Last Chance Bar; Oakland, California

The slanted floors and stopped clock in Jack London’s favorite haunt are a result of the devastating 1906 earthquake that virtually leveled nearby San Francisco. A 10-year-old London is said to have used the bar as a place to study, planting himself at tables still used by the bar today.

7. Long Bar; Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Home to the famous Singapore Sling, the Long Bar still serves the drink that gained it international renown. Equally notable is the Raffle’s Writer’s Bar, created as a tribute to the wordsmiths who either frequented or wrote about the hotel.

8. The Eagle and Child; Oxford, England

Still called “Bird and Baby” by locals who remember the bar’s first moniker, this quaint-looking pub was a favorite of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. While it makes for a good story, the tale that the burgeoning authors actually exchanged their writings over a pint here is thought to be largely invented.

9. Bell-in-Hand Tavern; Boston, Massachusetts

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With the exception of a brief closure during prohibition, the alcohol has been flowing at Bell-in-Hand for over 200 years. Once the hang-out of notables like Paul Revere and Daniel Webster, it now plays host to karaoke fanatics and lively weekend crowds.

10. Fink’s; Jerusalem, Israel

The only bar on the list no longer in existence, Fink’s was noted for sticking to its “treat everyone equally” ethos on an almost fanatical level. In fact, legend has it that the owner not only denied Henry Kissinger service twice, but once kept Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir waiting for over half an hour. It closed in 2005 after a 68-year run.

Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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