15 E 7th St.
New York City, NY 10003
Proudly proclaiming that “we were here before you were born,” McSorley’s Old Ale House has been a neighborhood bar in Manhattan since 1854. This Irish bar is very much an experience in the past. Maybe it’s the sawdust floors, or the old newspapers covering the walls. Or maybe it’s the rough charm of the barman who greets you with a brisk “light or dark?” before wordlessly setting a load of beer-filled glass mugs on your table. It’s a lot of fun really, this place is about the atmosphere. And it’s a memorable one.
The menu was primarily beer, it also includes some Irish cuisine. Things to try:
- Irish Pale Ale: The aforementioned “light ale,” The Irish pale ale has a light, almost airy body and very clean flavor. Almost unnoticeable at the end is a bit of a bitter taste. This one is very drinkable.
- Irish Black Lager: While it looks like a much heavier beer, this one has a caramel, almost coffee like flavor upfront, but you find the body is relatively light. Like the other beer, the “dark ale” sure is a great drink ability and is definitely one you can sip on and enjoy over a long time.
- Cheese and crackers and onions: this dish epitomizes the bar maybe more than anything else, which is why I mention it. You get a sleeve of store-bought crackers on top of a big pile of white cheese and onions. And if you like, there’s mustard on the table to enjoy with it. Not pretentious at all. This bar knows what is going after. So it’s not trying to impress you with a bunch of pretense, the people are salt of the earth and you get a good experience without a lot of frills.
The bar tends to bring in lots of people on the weekends of course, but during the day it seems to have a bit of a lighter crowd, though definitely a sociable one. You can fit a group into this bar pretty easily, and that’s not easy to find everywhere in Manhattan so it’s worth a mention. Just make sure you plan to stick around for a while, the charm in the bar comes from appreciating its history and heritage.
Not many places in Manhattan can say they are 100 years old, and certainly very few can say they’ve been around as long as this place. I suspect it will last many more years as well.
- This isn’t a bar where you’re going to get a lot of frills or trendy diet fad foods. There’s plenty of other places like that nearby. Know what you’re expecting when you come in the door.
- There is often a two for five dollar special on beer during the day.
- This is a pretty good place to take a group of 4 to 8 people and have a pretty good experience though.