Bar Profile: McSorley’s Old Ale House

McSorley’s Old Ale House, located in the East Village at 15 E. 7th Street, is a historic bar that has attracted locals and tourists for over 150 years. An Irish immigrant by the name of John McSorley opened up the bar after being driven out of his homeland shortly after the potato famine. The play “McSorley’s Inflation” opened on Broadway in 1882 and essentially put the bar on the map. Since then, the bar has been an inspiration for the works of artists like John Sloan and writers such as E.E. Cummings and Joseph Mitchell.
If you come here to drink, you must like beer, and you must like McSorley’s Ale because that is all they have. The good thing is that it’s pretty damn good! The beer comes in 8 oz steins in two varieties, light and dark (very creative). When you order one you get two, not a bad deal right? The only catch is that you have to keep drinking. You’ll be shown the door if you stop drinking as they don’t take kindly to freeloaders. They even adopted the slogan “Be good or be gone” as their motto.

McSorley’s, has welcomed many celebrities over the years including Teddy Roosevelt, John Lennon and the New York Rangers who drank McSorley’s Ale from the Stanley Cup after their victory. The bar is also home to priceless decor including the last photo of Babe Ruth, an original invitation to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, and an original Wanted sign for John Wilkes Booth. One cannot walk into McSorley’s without noticing the incredibly dusty ancient gas lamp up above. Supposedly, soldiers hung wishbones on this lamp before heading off to war only to be removed if they returned. It now serves as a memorial and a sign of respect.The bottom line with McSorley’s Ale House is that it’s a old fashioned bar with rich history. It’s not a place for a nice meal, cocktail, or quiet conversation. The forms of payment is still primitive, accepting only cash and the urinals in the Men’s bathroom hasn’t been renovated since 1911. Can you tell? It’s nonetheless a historic New York City bar where one can enjoy the game, the unique decor, and a damn good beer. It is clearly a must-see in New York.
For more on McSorley’s Ale House be sure to check out Sean Parnell’s article with the Chicago Bar Project.

To LIVE the history of this bar as well as others in the East Village, book the East Village Pub Crawl with Uncle Sam’s New York today!

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