November 16, 2011 — Ask any Bostonian about the Cheers bar, the local pub on which the show Cheers was based and which has since taken on the branding of the show, and they’ll probably roll their eyes and say something that rhymes with “florist sap.”
I was pretty much to that point myself, but then I recently and randomly pulled the show’s theme song up on YouTube. By the end of the first line of lyrics, I didn’t care anymore about urbanite cynicism. So below is a quick video of the place. Quick because it’s a small bar and I skipped the upstairs part, which really does have florist sap all over it since it’s just a gift shop and a small, working annex bar in a plain room with not even a fraction of the ambiance of downstairs.
They call that upper room the “set bar” because they’ve installed a quarter-scale replica of the wraparound bar from the show itself, adorned with brass nameplates for such regulars as Norm and Frazier. It’s completely skippable unless you’re dying for a gin and tonic and it’s too crowded in the actual pub.
By way of backstory, before the owners renamed the bar Cheers to cash in on the show, it was actually the Bull and Finch Pub and had been in its Boston location across from the Public Garden since 1969. The sit com producers used the exterior of the then Bull and Finch for outside shots for the show itself, and based the downstairs entryway and general décor on the real-life bar.
Size and arrangement-wise, however, the Cheers set and the bar it was based on look nothing alike, and it takes the three dozen Cheers signs and half as many pictures of Sam Malone that are currently everywhere in the Bull and Finch to clue you in to the bar’s sit-com fame. The bar owners have also branched out and opened another, larger Cheers a few blocks away in Faneuil Hall, this one sporting a more full-scale replica of the bar itself, although it feels more like being in Faneuil Hall than being in a show where everybody drinks and nobody gets drunk. Wait, that doesn’t sound pleasant at all.
You want to go where people know, people are all the same.
You want to go where everybody knows your name.
Nailed it, theme-song-writer guy.