Day 45—Tuesday, February 23rd
McSorley’s Old Ale House
Remember last week when I took you to Pete’s Tavern and told you it was the oldest tavern in New York? Well I was online searching for a joint to go to tonight and found another bar making the same claim. McSorley’s Old Ale House has this claim on their website, “Established in 1854 - McSorley's can boast of being New York City's oldest continuously operated saloon.”
Hmm...looks like I’ve got some investigating to do here. Time to put on my investigative journalist hat and get all “60 Minutes” on their ass. Oh wait...I don’t have an investigative hat...aw, fuck it, who cares who’s really the oldest bar, in New York let’s just go and see what this place is like.
The legendary McSorley's Old Ale House.
It's a rainy Tuesday night and I expected the place to be empty, but the joint is jumping!
Michael and Scotty are the two hospitable and friendly barkeeps on duty for the evening.
And they quickly served me the first of many double McSorley's mugs of delicious ale. Cheers!
Seated at the corner table were Etta and Elsa, I stopped by to raise a glass with them. Their friend Tom kindly took the photo.
The place is loaded with kitschy memorablia and antiques from New York days gone by.
The original beer engine from decades ago.
James was enjoying the cheese and crackers plate and had lots of bar suggestions for the 365 bar crawl. Thanks, James, maybe we'll cross paths again on the crawl.
The nightly food specials at McSorley's.
Jeff and Lee were knocking back mugs at the bar, cheers guys!
The back room is just as lively as the front. Everybody's swilling down their double mugs.
The sawdust on the floor retains the old school workingman's feel of the saloon.
Brendan is one of the table waiters who is handy with the McSorley mugs.
The long wooden bar at McSorley's, where many a mug has spilled ale onto it.
The round wooden tables are loaded with stains, scratches and character.
Keng Liu and Stepanie stopped in for a couple mugs of ale at the bar.
More memorablia and a vintage working fan.
A real wood burning stove in the front room helps warm the joint up.
On my way out I met Olivia and Janet, cheers ladies! And goodnight everybody!
When you order a beer at McSorley’s Old Ale House, you might think you’re seeing double before you take your first swig of brew. That’s because when you order one beer, they bring you two. It’s a tradition that goes back...well, I didn’t really research anything, so it goes back to at least about sixteen years ago when I first wandered into this joint. And it’s only $4.50 for both mugs of beer. If you’re a person who has trouble deciding what kind of drink to order, you’ll have no problem here. The sole selection is McSorely’s light ale or the dark ale. That’s it, no boubon, no vodka, no fruity, rooty-toot drinks in here, just McSorley’s Ale.
The place has been open since 1854 and I don’t think they’ve redecorated or dusted since. Sawdust is scattered on the floor and there’s no stools at the bar. The round tables are stained with decades of spilled ale and have etchings in them. It’s all part of the old world charm that is McSorley’s Old Ale House.
The food’s as simple as the bar. The sandwich selection is ham, liverwurst, cheese or turkey for four bucks a sandwich. They also offer a plate of cheese, onions and saltines. A small plate is three dollars, for a large it’s four bucks. Daily specials such as hash, chili, shepherd’s pie and the soup of the day are featured on the chalk board at the bar. Nothing is going to cost you over ten bucks, making McSorley’s a recession proof bar.
You really can’t say you’re a seasoned bar hound in New York till you’ve tipped a glass or six in McSorley’s. Some of the people who have drank in here through the years are Abe Lincoln, Woody Guthrie and John Lennon. You won’t hear any of Lennon’s music in here though, there’s no music, no jukebox, no frills, just a nice slice of what New York used to look, feel and taste like. Cheers to McSorley’s!
McSorley’s Old Ale House
15 E 7th St (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue)