You know an English pub name when you see it. The Sausage and The Dog. Elephant & Castle. The Old Bag of Nails. They catch your eye.
I thought Pig and Whistle was just another pub name. Not so, according to the Clabber Girl Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana. Yes, it was a common name for bars, but it was also a term that refers to drinking too much. Come again?
A pig, the museum’s information explained, refers to a container for alcohol (piggin: a wooden drinking vessel or ladle, pig: an earthenware pot or pitcher). Often those fetching pigs from the cellars would imbibe a bit on the way back from the cellar (or in the cellar)—or even return drunk. To prevent this, they were required to whistle while they were fetching the pigs to prove that they weren’t drinking.
I suspect that this is a case of an incorrect etymology. I have read other explanations, such as the pegs (pigs) in a tankard indicating how far down one has drunk (and thus how much one owes) and wassail (“to your health!”) (whistle) being shouted. The true etymology seems to have been lost in time.