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No water for whiskey

The lobby of the St. Anthony Historic Hotel is fairly well abandoned by 10 o’clock at night. The Christmas tree lights twinkle and the chandelier sparkles, but the shoe-shine station is closed and the cold, white marble floor echoes with each step, and one has the sense that one ought not be too rowdy.

Pete’s Pub

300 E. Travis
Mon-Sat 3pm-midnight
Sun 4pm-midnight

At least that’s how we found it on a recent Thursday evening. But, we had pushed our way through the hotel’s heavy revolving doors in search of a hot toddy, and we were not to be deterred by the lobby’s scolding hush nor the scent of bleach-rags lingering in the stairwell leading down to the bar called Pete’s Pub.

Earlier in the day, we had enjoyed a virtual tour of the St. Anthony on its website, and so were expecting to lounge on a high-backed couch in a forest-green Victorian-era bar surrounded by gilt-framed paintings, wood-paneling, and brass foot rails.

To our surprise, Pete’s Pub looked nothing like its picture. More than the off-white walls or the vintage liquor posters that have replaced the paintings, my drinking companion and I were struck by the furniture: Pete’s appears to be furnished with the odd remnants of St. Anthony’s previous eras, from a round, red-velvet ottoman with stubby legs to a straight-back chair in black Naugahyde to an ornate mahogany Louis XV end table. The overall effect is that, in a charming way, Pete’s Pub seems like an afterthought; a forgotten room in a grand hotel.

We took a seat next to a lovely marble maiden. Standing nearly naked on a rosy granite base, her lily-white hand resting on what, according to her proportions, would be a poodle-size bronze lion, she gazed longingly into the distance and registered no shock when the bartender told us he couldn’t make hot toddies—the water at Pet’es Pub isn’t hot enough.

Pete’s does offer a selection of beer and “fine spirits,” and a limited menu of Italian subs, hot wings, and hamburgers. We ordered brandy and put our feet up on a couple of empty chairs, which seemed appropriate if only because there was no one around to see it. Well, there were a couple of locals a few tables over, but they were too involved in their cigars to notice our poor manners.

And that’s why we would return to Pete’s Pub—it’s the kind of place where one could sprawl out on an ottoman for hours, playing cards, smoking, and talking. Maybe, if we go there often enough, the bartender will borrow a cup of hot water from the hotel kitchen for our hot toddies.

By Susan Pagani

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