Northampton’s Tunnel Bar named No. 1 bar to ‘drink at before you die’ by Buzzfeed

Last modified: Friday, April 24, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — If you’re a bar owner in the Internet age, when Yelp reviews can make or break you, there may be nothing better than having a hugely popular website tell hundreds of thousands of people that your establishment is the No. 1 bar in America they should visit before kicking the bucket.

That’s what happened this weekend when a Buzzfeed staffer posted “19 Bars in America You Should Drink At Before You Die” and listed Northampton’s own Tunnel Bar as number one — although the author did not specify if the list was ranked.

As of Sunday night, a day and half after it was posted, the webpage had been viewed over 777,000 times, and had also been reposted on countless other sites.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Jeremiah Micka, who for over a year has co-owned the Union Station building off of Pleasant Street that houses the Tunnel Bar, Platform Sports Bar, The Deck and a banquet facility. He said the Tunnel Bar has been named in the Valley Advocate’s Best of the Valley Readers Poll, but the national recognition feels amazing. “Being compared to bars in big cities, it’s overwhelming.”

Micka, who said he’s not big on social media, got a text Saturday from a friend telling him that his bar had made the Buzzfeed list. He said he’s excited not just for his establishment, but for Northampton as well.

“Anytime I see Northampton mentioned on a national level, it’s exciting,” he said.

Accessible from Strong Avenue, the bar is in a space that used to be a pedestrian tunnel when the 1896 building was a train station. Patrons can sit in high-backed leather chairs and choose from a myriad of martinis and other cocktails.

Buzzfeed is known for listicles, a portmanteau of list and article, which are often shared widely on social media. The post that mentioned the Tunnel Bar was compiled by Buzzfeed staffer Jon-Michael Poff, whose other recent posts include “23 Profound Disney Quotes That Will Actually Change Your Life” and “17 Public Bathroom Horror Stories That Will Scar You For Life.”

Poff asked Buzzfeed readers to post about the coolest bars they’ve visited, then chose 19 as the ones that should be on every drinker’s bucket list. Among the other bars on the list are the revolving Carousel Bar in New Orleans, Minus5 Ice Bar in Las Vegas and the Doctor Who-themed Brooklyn bar The Way Station.

There is a photo or two and a brief description of each bar as it was submitted by a Buzzfeed reader. Buzzfeed reader Bergin Smith suggested the Tunnel Bar, writing that its “arched stone walls, sleek bar, and big, comfy chairs make it the ideal place for a classy evening out.”

At the Tunnel Bar Sunday evening, three friends having a round of martinis said they hadn’t seen the Buzzfeed post, but they sought out the bar for all the same reasons. Andrew Bares, Jeffrey Davis and Michael Pallatini live in Enfield, Connecticut, but came to Northampton Sunday to walk, shop and stop at the Tunnel Bar. “It’s usually our main objective when we come here,” Davis, 26, said.

“There’s nothing like this where we live,” Bares, 27, said. He said he likes the atmosphere and that the bartenders can make any drink you can think of, or recommend something you hadn’t tried. “They really know what they’re doing.”

Behind the bar Sunday night, manager Krystle Melanson and bartender Zak Pighetti were both excited about the Buzzfeed shout-out to the Tunnel Bar. “Someone shared it on Facebook and I said, ‘Holy crap, that’s our bar!’” Melanson said.

She said she thinks the recognition will mean more people from near and far will be stopping in, especially now that the Amtrak station that was recently completed upstairs makes the bar more accessible than ever. “We deliver top quality cocktails,” she said. “People come for the cocktails, the ambience and it’s a good place for a date.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at


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