30 August 2008

the surge and settle

The Crooked Knife (Murray Hill) / New York, New York
A couple of nights ago we went to The Crooked Knife, an Irish pub on East 30th between Park and Madison, where a friend through mutual acquaintance tends bar. The Crooked Knife serves Guinness on tap and since spending time in the UK, I've taken a liking to the creamy goodness that comes as a result of the unique surge and settle of the pour. We refer to them as "smooth smoothies". I've also become fascinated with pub names. Apparently, the naming of pubs became quite common by the 12th century - and with pub names came pub signs - as the majority of the population could not read or write. Pub signs were usually quite simple so that the name of the establishment could easily be interpreted. The Guinness - it was ok but you just can't get the same level of creamy goodness here in the States. And if you find yourself across the pond, look for Guinness Red- sweeter and creamier - and only available in select UK pubs.


TheCrankyProfessor said...

Fun reflections!

Elaine Saunders www.completetext.com said...

The idea of the pub sign also came to Britain with the Roman armies. In Rome, tavern keepers hung a bunch of vine leaves over the door as an advertisement but, in Britain, they found precious few vines. They therefore improvised with any evergreen plant and pubs called "the Bush" or "Holly Bush" are still found countrywide

When pubs were built to cater for the pilgrimage trade they took religious names to reinforce their monastic connections. Often the signs were inspired by pictures found in churches' stained-glass windows as the population were largely illiterate - hence names like Angel, Ship (ark) or Lamb (of God).

Pictorial pub signs also advertised the type of entertainment on offer inside e.g. Bull for bull-baiting or Cock for cock-fighting.

Thereafter, they've commemorated royalty, heroes, battles, ambition and the odd scandal. Between them, pub signs tell a pictorial history of Britain but they're often overlooked in the rush to the bar!

Elaine Saunders
Author - A Book About Pub Names

exfactor said...

Wow - thanks much for the added info on pub naming, Elaine! I particularly like "type of entertainment" connection which will give me a whole new context to consider when I come across a particularly intriguing pub name!