The Bar Americano opened for business in 1920 in the heart of a riverside area known for its bars. It quickly assimilated the multilingual and multi-ethnic environment – sailors from all parts of the world, tourists (but fewer than today), diverse artists, and people of the night, be it by trade or calling. Of the many thousands of guests it has had, the memory tends to linger on those timeless names, such as those of the writers José Cardoso Pires and Alexandre O’Neill, who would sit here and write, celebrate or just pass the time of day/night.
The Bar Americano is one of three Anglo-Saxon-influenced bars in the area – between Corpo Santo and Cais do Sodré. Cardoso Pires, a regular of these bars, wrote in a chronicle entitled De bar em bar (From bar to bar) that each of the three could be distinguished from the others by the attendance, i.e. the customers who characterised each space. According to him, “the bosses would meet in the Bar Americano, the bosses and the managers in the English Bar, and the British Bar was a mixture of allcomers.” Not that this in any way disturbed the good neighbourly relations between the establishments, which continue today.
Having had a regular table at the British Bar, Cardoso Pires also wrote of the Bar Americano, which for him continued to be the “chapel most loyal to the image of Fernando Pessoa, who frequented it in the liturgical hours of the morning drinkers, lined up at the bar amongst the standing guests,” he writes in Lisboa, Livro de Bordo.
Inside the space one should note the century-old collection of bottles. The bottles that line the various shelves were there when the space was first opened, embodying decades of history. The current owner is the founder’s great-grandson, Paulo Pereira. However, the bar is now managed by the owner of the British Bar.
Today, the giant TV screen attracts a large crowd on days with football matches. If there is no match, then they have karaoke, where the manager often showcases his otherwise hidden talents.
The opening hours sign reads “from 4:00 p.m. to...” and this lack of definition in relation to the closing time is indeed very convenient, attracting guests who like to show up when it pleases them, or when their belly dictates, for a pizza or toasted sandwich at all hours.
From the street one should note the azulejo tile panel advertising Krohn Port wine and the shop window that is always richly decorated with diverse objects: memorabilia, a cash register, gloves, a figure of Marilyn… If you lack a subject for striking up a conversation, any of one those objects and the story behind them could serve as a good communicational crutch. That is, if you don’t make friends there immediately without the need for linguistic strategies.
References & Links
 PIRES, José Cardoso – De Bar em Bar. O Jornal. Nº. 622 (23 Jan.1987), p.14.
Drinks and snacks