Not all the hauntings in Salem are from the witch trials…
The History: The most famous street in Salem is Essex Street, home to a slew of occult shops, psychic mediums, and museums. But there is just as much history on Derby Street and dark, dirty history at that. Over the years following the hysteria of the Salem witch trials, Salem developed a red light district (like so many other growing cities), and the heart of it was along Derby Street right next to the water. According to stories, captains of various ships would shanghai young men while they were enjoying themselves in the brothels and bars of Derby Street, including the building that Mercy Tavern now calls home. Tunnels running beneath the city were also used by pirates to discreetly move to and from the water, making kidnapping an easy task.
The Haunting: Mercy Tavern has exchanged hands a few times over the years, more recently known as In a Pig’s Eye, but its location on the infamous Derby Street has followed it through the centuries, leaving a mark on the energy of the building. While Derby Street and much of Derby Wharf are thought to be haunted, it is Mercy Tavern that experiences the most activity. There are stories of pirate apparitions appearing in the bar area and even the sound of shouting and fighting coming from the tunnels below the building.
While I always love a pirate ghost or two, there isn’t much about Mercy Tavern that screams haunted. The restaurant is bright and colorful with quirky art on the bathroom doors… by all means, it is a hipster heaven (I loved the look of the place). However, there was no information available on the history of the building, much less the hauntings, and when I asked about any potential paranormal activity, no one was really able to offer me much. Which is a shame because I’ve never gotten to write about pirate ghosts.
Mercy Tavern boasts its Farm to Fork system with fresh ingredients and dishes that change with the seasons. To go with the name of “Mercy Tavern,” they also donate a portion of each bill to various organizations in the Salem community–I’ve (sadly) never seen that at a restaurant before and I think it’s awesome! I had the pleasure of stopping by Mercy Tavern for a few cocktails and I was happy to find their drinks to be original creations that I had never seen before, each priced at $12. First up, I ordered the Vanilla Alexander which was a concoction of Absolut, dark creme de cacao, cream, and nutmeg. Our waitress described it as a grown-up milkshake and she was not wrong. I would return to Mercy Tavern just for that little beauty. The second cocktail I ordered was Wharf Punch (I always go for cocktails named after the history/location). It was basically a classic rum punch but with cold brew simple syrup in it. It was an interesting twist on a classic drink I have had many times.
Type of Experience: Restaurant and Bar
Dining Style: Casual
Price Range: $6-20
Address: 148 Derby Street, Salem, MA 01970
Phone Number:(978) 741-4436
Hours of Operation:
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