Party Like Its 1787

On September 14, 1787, the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry hosted a dinner for George Washington at the City Tavern in Philadelphia. City Tavern, built in 1773, also called the Merchants’ Coffee House, was the political and business center of Philadelphia. All the leading persons who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution met here. George Washington’s diary indicates that he would dine and talk politics with other delegates here at least once a week.

George Washington

Alcoholic beverages played an important role in Colonial America since drinking wine and beer at that time was safer than water – which was generally used to dispose of sewage and garbage. Thus, at Washington’s party on September 14, we find that the colonists celebrated in only the most healthy way.

The City Tavern in Philadelphia

According to the bill submitted the next day (approximately $15,000 in current dollars), the fifty-five gentlemen in attendance consumed 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 22 bottles of porter, 8 bottles of hard cider, 12 bottles of beer, 8 bottles of ale (“barley wine”), and 7 large bowls of spiked punch. It can only be presumed a good time was had by all….

(A Quaker by the name of Samuel Miles paid the bill. He served in the Revolutionary War and, in 1787, was a member of the Council of Censors. The Council was an official body responsible for monitoring violations of the separation of powers in Pennsylvania,” and, presumably less officially, picking up bar tabs.)

City Tavern today, still going strong

City Tavern today, still going strong


About rhapsodyinbooks

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10 Responses to Party Like Its 1787

  1. Holy cow! I have to wonder if the bottles were the same size as today’s bottles.

  2. jama says:

    Fascinating stuff. Love reading about Presidential foods, er, in this case, drinks . . wow!

  3. Beth F says:

    I wonder how many people were carried out of the room! That’s some drinking.

  4. Barbara says:

    I don’t think I would have been brave (or stupid) enough to drink the water then either. Everyone must have gone around half drunk every day.

  5. Wow, that is quite a high ratio of alcohol to people at the party. 🙂

  6. Sounds like my type of party!! 😀

  7. softdrink says:

    Dang, that George really knew how to throw a party!

  8. Lisa says:

    Oh my goodness, those founding fathers clearly knew how to par-tee! I’m sorry but that amount of liquor cannot be explained away as a substitute for water, guys.

  9. bookingmama says:

    Of course!!! Are you really surprised?

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