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Belly Up to the Bar--Phrase Origin

Posted by R. Berg on March 17, 2001

In Reply to: Belly Up to the Bar--Phrase Origin posted by Paula Davis on March 16, 2001

: I'm a reference librarian with a patron who wants to know the origin of the phrase "belly up to the bar." My colleagues and I have searched numerous word and phrase origin dictionaries and various word/phrase origin sites on the Internet. Does anyone perchance know the origin of this phrase. I know there's a song from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" with this title, but I believe its usage has to be very old. Thanks for any and all assistance.

: Paula Davis
: Reference Librarian
: San Antonio Public Library
: 600 Soledad
: San Antonio TX 78205

This is the entry from Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British":

"belly up! belly up to the bar, boys!" Drinks on the house, boys!: Canadian: 20th century. Cf. the US underworld, mostly pickpockets', catch phrase "belly up?," Have a drink!--c. 1930-50. Prompted by the English-speaking world's toast "bottoms up!"