McSorley’s Old Ale House, commonly referred to as McSorley’s, is known as the oldest bar in New York City. Technically, it’s the oldest Irish tavern in NYC but we are not going to go there. It is located in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan.
When walking into McSorley’s, you will be transported back in time to Olde School New York. The walls are covered with old photographs, newspaper clippings, and artwork that have not been changed in years. It is very clear that the memorabilia has not been changed in a very, very long time. Apparently, not one piece of memorabilia has been removed from the walls since 1910. The sawdust floors, rickety chairs, and worn tables complete the Olde School New York vibe. In the center of the front room, there is a giant wood burning heater that heats up the place. I always try to sit as close as possible to feel the warmth.
It is always packed with locals and tourists all with loud smiling faces. If there is a table available, snatch it up, if not the bartender will help seat you. TIP: All tables are communal, so there is plenty of opportunity to chat up your fellow table mates. We’ve had some great conversations by conversing with strangers at McSorley’s.
There are only two bars on tap, light and dark. When placing your order, you order in pairs. For instance, my order is two light, two dark. Both beers are super light and easy to drink. They are served in small 10oz glasses.
The history of McSorely’s is what makes this place stand out. Until 1970, it was a men’s only place only admitting women after legally being forced to do so. McSorely’s was the last bar in NYC to finally allow women to enter. Nowadays, you will see many women there but I’d say their clientele is still predominately men.
When sitting at the bar, look around for wishbones hanging from the ceiling. Those wishbones were put there by men going off to World War One and were to be collected when they returned home safely. The wishbones that are left are from those men that never returned.
If you are in New York City, go for a beer and stay for many more.
What are some of your favorite bars in NYC?