As more and more of New York’s endearingly grimy dive bars are pushed out daily (R.I.P. Milady’s) to make room for whatever organic farm to table “bespoke ale experience,” is trending that month, the precious few hole-in-the-wall joints that we have left in this city must be treasured, least they end up out on the curb like a kicked keg. And no gritty saloon is more worthy of our admiration than McSorley’s, the self proclaimed “first Irish Tavern” in New York City.
With a tap list that includes just two options, a grimy straw floor, and an interior that hasn’t been altered since 1910, “McSorley’s Old Ale House” on 7th Street is where you go when you’ve had enough of the preening and pretension that runs rampant in downtown’s bar scene. “Light” and “dark” are the only words you’ll need to know at McSorley’s, as their minute mugs are exclusively filled with the soapy suds of their two in-house brews.
If you’re feeling bold, you can order up a gloppy Corned Beef sandwich or a hockey puck burger, but we recommend merely drinking down one of their beers (which by the way always come in pairs, as in order one get two) and admiring the bar’s unique decor. Houdini’s handcuffs are strapped to the bar, wishbones hang above your head, while portraits of great men like JFK and Alfred E. Neuman adorn the walls.
While McSorley’s opened it’s doors in 1854 (or 1862 depending on who you ask) it’s 1970 that remains the most important year in the history of the bar. Up until that point, McSorley’s was famously an all men’s bar, and it wasn’t until ’70 after a long and arduous battle that the bar served their first female patron. Nowadays McSorley’s doors are open to any and all visitor in search of a foamy brew and a hefty dose of paraphernalia from “the Old(e) New York.”