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History of the Secret Society of Social Drinkers

Throughout American history, establishments such as taverns, bars, and breweries have played a significant role in the social and political fabric of the country. In Colonial America, notable figures including the Founding Fathers would frequently convene at the esteemed Tun Tavern and City Tavern in Philadelphia to discuss matters of national importance. Samuel Powell, proprietor of the land on which the City Tavern stands, once inquired of Benjamin Franklin about the nature of their group and the topics they discussed. Franklin, renowned for his wit and appreciation for libations, humorously referred to their gatherings as the "Secret Society of Social Drinkers." During this pivotal period, the need to conceal their identities and plans from occupying British troops was of paramount importance as they prepared for revolution. 


While the Secret Society of Social Drinkers may no longer serve its original purpose, its legacy endures through the tradition of gathering to socialize over drinks.


Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston

Honorary Members

Many people have help shape and grow the brewing and distilling industry. Here is our list of honorary members.

Drinking in Colonial Times

During the Colonial era, the quality of drinking water was compromised by bacterial contamination, resulting in illnesses such as dysentery and cholera. As a result, many people opted for alcoholic beverages that were perceived to be safer for consumption. Contemporary knowledge recognizes that boiling water, which is a crucial step in the brewing and distilling process, effectively eliminates harmful bacteria.


During the 18th century, alcohol consumption was commonly regarded as a daily beverage and was consumed frequently. Historical records suggest that the average colonist consumed approximately seven gallons of alcohol per year, a consumption rate that is more than three times higher than the present-day average in the United States.

Tun Tavern Philadelphia PA.jpg

Tun Tavern

Tun Tavern, a tavern and brewery located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, held a prominent position as a gathering place for various distinguished individuals and organizations. It was on November 10th, 1775 that Robert Mullan, the proprietor of Tun Tavern, was entrusted by an act of Congress to raise the initial two battalions of Marines, commanded by Capt. Samuel Nicholas, the first designated Commandant of the Continental Marines. Capt. Nicholas had a familial tie to Tun Tavern, as his grandfather was a member of the Tun Tavern Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. This association between Mullan, Nicholas, and the Tavern is responsible for Tun Tavern's recognition as the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps.


Annually, on November 10th, Marines around the world raise a toast to the birthplace of the Corps, marking this significant date in its history.

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father and member of the Secret Society of Social Drinkers, has become a focus of renewed interest due to Lin-Manuel Miranda's successful Broadway play Hamilton. Hamilton lived at 3rd and Walnut Street in Philadelphia (marked with a plaque) from 1790-1795, just a few hundred feet from the City Tavern located at 2nd and Walnut Street. As depicted in the musical, it was common for Hamilton and his friends to meet at the local bars to discuss their plans for the revolution.

Alexander Hamilton's Home Philadelphia PA
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