Mr Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar – Rawtenstall, England - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

Mr Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar

The last of the 19th-century booze-free bars has been slinging teetotal tonics for over a century. 


Created during the temperance movement that swept through Lancashire, England and beyond near the end of the 1800s, Mr Fitzpatrick’s was the only booze-free bar to survive through the years as customers drifted back to the bottle.

The quaint white storefront in the town of Rawtenstall first opened its doors in 1890 as part of a surge of dozens of Mr Fitzpatrick’s bars springing up in the area. Mr Fitzpatrick’s was inspired by the Methodist-backed Temperance Movement that sought to spread the gospel of moderation within the seemingly disastrous culture of drinking that prevailed at the time. To this end, Mr Fitzpatrick’s and other tonic bars like it sold herbal drinks ranging from ginger beer and sarsaparilla to more exotic draughts like blood tonic and dandelion and burdock soda.

Unfortunately the allure of getting good and boozy proved too much for the movement that sustained many of the dry bars and most of all of them closed down save for the Rawtenstall Mr Fitzpatrick’s bar which continued to thrive thanks to a devoted customer base.

Today, Mr Fitzpatrick’s is the only remaining temperance bar from the era although brand new versions of the sober stores are beginning to appear. Mr Fitzpatrick’s continues to sell its herbal drinks and healthy remedies and has seen a sharp increase in business in recent years, although it is unknown whether this is due to a resurgent interest in sobriety or whether their tasty drinks are being used as mixers in designer cocktails.     

Know Before You Go

If you cannot decide what to buy they will provide a few tasters to make sure you buy the right stuff. The elderflower cordial and the "blood tonic" are both excellent. If they have it available do not miss the chocolate and vanilla cake. Up to 3 hours free parking nearby on  James Street.

It is not easy to get to Rawtenstall by public transport from the nearest large city of Manchester. Try the tram to Bury and then a bus from the Bury interchange. Alternatively a historic preserved railway, The East Lancashire Railway, runs from Bury to Rawtenstall.

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