Are Bars the New Universities?
Molly Wellmann owns two bars in Cincinnati—Myrtle’s Punch House and Japp’s Since 1879. Besides being a bartender and bar owner, Wellmann is a history obsessive. Much of her free time is spent researching, sometimes at the Cincinnati Mercantile Library, sometimes at the public library, learning what she can about the city’s ancient bars and barkeepers. She has a special fondness for the writer Lafcadio Hearn (who wrote for the Cincinnati paper, and whom Wellmann refers to as “a punk rocker of the 1870s”). She also admits to being something of a National Police Gazette junkie.
“I find stories about the liquor as intoxicating as the drinks themselves,” she wrote in her 2013 guide, Handcrafted Cocktails. “I love to learn the stories about where everything comes from. I always have.”
Last spring, she found a new way to share her passion. With local history buff and writer Greg Hand, and University of Cincinnati archivist Kevin Grace, the trio launched Stand-Up History, a series of short talks about local history—often revolving around the history of drink. The third event was held in late November. All have taken place at Myrtle’s Punch House.