Editor’s note: The original version of this column mischaracterized the nature of the happy hour held at the Yardley Inn on Thursdays. The headline and text have been amended to more accurately reflect the evening that was written about. The original photo that accompanied the column was taken on a different night, and the bartender and other patrons who were depicted were not present on the Thursday written about. The column also incorrectly reported what the bar is made of, the age of artwork in the bathroom, and the hours of operation.
The bartender waves us over and gives emphatic instructions: Hover, and hover aggressively. It is, perhaps, the only essential survival skill for navigating ladies’ night at the Yardley Inn, a Thursday-night ritual that exists in a time capsule, from an era before this nonbinary world made such propositions questionable, from when the Cosmopolitan was still the trendy drink. Our tenacity pays off, as we slide into still-warm bar stools — and pretend not to hear a group behind us complaining loudly that they, too, had been waiting for seats.
The Yardley Inn is draped with twinkle lights and huddled on the river’s edge. On ladies’ night, though, the view is not the central attraction. It’s all about the scene inside, which has the energy of an oversubscribed country-club wedding, filled with couples, extended families, an older man putting his hand needlessly on my back, urging me to “take off your coat and stay awhile” — everyone made overly sociable by Baileys on the rocks, or chocolate martinis or Miller Lite bottles.
As I assess the scene, a man in a tweed sportcoat with elbow patches explains the appeal: “Older people can come and feel they’re still in the game,” he said. “I’ve been asked to leave the game by a petition of several thousand women in Bucks County.”
True enough, the crescent-shape bar is crowded with Mrs. Robinson types, in leopard-print and cold-shoulder tops, Van Cleef necklaces and fur shrugs, and blowouts too perfect to have been accomplished at home.
I figure out early on they’re not coming for the blood-orange gin sparkler, which tastes like a glass of rosemary syrup, or for the fries, which are a bit soggy and inexplicably draped in arugula, or the mussels, doused in tinny tomato sauce. They come for the martinis — 10-ounce glasses filled to the brim — and because it feels like home. Everyone knows Kristy Lohse, who runs the bar like a ringmaster, and when they shout “Kristy! I need my check!" or "Kristy! Two martinis!” she calls them right back by name.
“I call it my little upscale Cheers,” said Michele Mohollen, the general manager, who has been cultivating that vibe for 30 years. Some customers come three or four nights a week, arriving early to claim their regular seats at the bar.
There have been five or six floods in that time, including two major ones that shuttered the restaurant for a month each time.
“It’s amazing how our guests will come and help us out when we flood," she said. "They’ll come help us move furniture, take pictures off the walls, and they will come and help us get the place back together. And we always have a really cool grand-opening party.”
Near the end of our night, a woman leans over to ask, “Are you two sisters?”, a cloud of perfume drafting with her. She grasps my friend’s arm with perfectly manicured fingers, inquires what she’s drinking, and ends up sampling her Vieux Carré. She reacts with a shudder and a wrinkle of the nose and a laugh like a small child being strangled. “That takes me back to having a sip of my grandmother’s drink,” she tells us. She pledges to stick to what she knows, tilts back the last of her white wine with ice, and departs, rubbing our shoulders gratuitously on the way out.
82 E. Afton Ave., Yardley, 215-493-3800, yardleyinn.com
When to go: Happy hour runs 5-7 p.m. weeknights, and the bar is open 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily (or until midnight on weekends).
What to order: Ounce for alcoholic ounce, the martinis are the best value at $11.50, or $6 for happy hour and ladies’ night.
Bring: Go alone. You’ll make friends.
Bathroom situation: A couple of stalls with salon art and toilet paper strewn around the floor.