Combine your next night out with friends with a lesson in New York City history at McSorley’s Old Ale House. This rustic Irish pub in the East Village opened its doors in 1854 and hasn’t shut them since, entertaining a who’s who of historical figures as well as legions of regular New Yorkers over the years. Drop by and create your own memories in New York’s oldest continuously-operating bar.
As soon as you walk in, you feel like you’ve traveled back in time to the 19th Century. The floor is covered in sawdust. A pot belly stove keeps the room toasty. The long wooden bar is worn from decades of use. Take a moment to soak it all in. You’re standing where famous characters such as Abraham Lincoln and John Lennon once relaxed and bent an elbow, and you’re here to do the same thing. Find a few places along the bar or take a seat at one of the wooden tables and order a round of light or dark house ales. That’s all they serve here, but fortunately, they’re both excellent.
Though you’ve come here to catch up with your pals, you can’t help but check out the newspaper clippings, black-and-white photos, and paintings hanging on the walls. The clippings read like an out-of-order history book, highlighting national triumphs and local news, from Prohibition (which McSorley’s never paid much mind to, since all the city’s top politicians drank here) to 1970, when McSorley’s was forced to admit women for the first time, rendering its original motto, “Good ale, raw onions, and no ladies” only 2/3 true.
The bar also has a wealth of phrases wedged between the antique American flags and faded portraits on the wall, including a “Be Good or Be Gone” sign settled above its old, cozy fireplace. Another sign, reading “We were here before you were born,” never lets you forget that this is more than a bar, it’s an institution. Relax, drink up, chow down on a burger, and chat with your closest friends as you revel in one of the most authentically New York experiences you could possibly have.