McSorley’s is the oldest Irish bar in New York City. And it feels it. The place is an authentic, operating business that has changed precious little in the more than 160 years it first opened its creaky doors. To walk into this dark saloon near Cooper Union is to literally step back in time – no TVs, no music, floors ankle deep in sawdust, creaky furniture, walls plastered with ancient newspaper clippings, political posters, college pennants and other ephemera from years gone by. It even smells old, but in a good way, like real Irish joints should.
What’s on tap? The only thing that has ever been served here: McSorley’s own creamy ales – either light or dark, your choice. That’s it. But really, what more do you need? The brews are served up in those old-timey hefty glass mugs that beer tastes best in. The mugs that survive years incessant table banging during heated political arguments or rousing college fight songs. But no malicious roughhousing is allowed – “Be good or be gone” is the motto of this oddly comfortable hideaway.
The Spartan bar menu has changed little since the 1800s and includes soda crackers and cheese and onion slices, liverwurst sandwiches and the like. Abe Lincoln and John Lennon tippled here. Woody Guthrie played guitar at his table near the front door. The place was a men’s-only bar until 1970.
15 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003