McSorley's Old Ale House

Opening Hours
Today: 11am–1am
15 East 7th Street
McSorley's Old Ale House 1 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village

A look at Manhattan’s most long-standing bars would be lacking without McSorley’s, which is hailed as the oldest Irish saloon in the city. It was founded by Irish immigrant John McSorley as a working-class pub named The Old House at Home. Known for serving beer for the price of pennies and free plates of cheese and crackers, the bar stayed alive during Prohibition by selling “Near Beer” to its loyal patrons. Throughout its long history, McSorley’s has preserved its famous golden rule, ordering customers to “Be Good or Be Gone.” Its previous slogan of “Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies” remains true on the first two counts. As for the latter, although McSorley’s was indeed one of the last men-only bars in the city, a court ruling forced it to admit women in the 1970s. It was eventually purchased by a night manager, Matthew Maher, who then passed it on to his daughter, Teresa. She has made history at this well-loved institution by becoming the first woman to work behind the bar. Aside from this, little has changed. The memorabilia on the walls and the sawdust-covered floor speak to McSorley’s storied past. There is even a chair that Abraham Lincoln sat in when he stopped by for a drink in 1859. A more somber memento can be found hanging from the electric lamps along the bar. Soldiers leaving to fight in World War I were given a turkey and ale dinner, and the wishbones were then placed on the lamps with the hope the men would come back, collect them, and celebrate their safe journey home. Dozens of aged wishbones remain there today, in remembrance to the soldiers who were unable to return. Unsurprisingly, given its enduring popularity, McSorley’s has been featured in numerous works of art, literature, and media. Most notably, it was immortalized in E.E. Cummings’ poem “Sitting in McSorley’s” and by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell, who was so taken with the bar as a microcosm of old New York that he published an anthology of essays in its honor.

Sign up to Sidestreet Updates
McSorley's Old Ale House 1 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 2 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 3 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 4 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 5 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 6 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 7 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 8 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 9 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 10 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village
McSorley's Old Ale House 11 American Bars Beer Bars Family Owned Founded before 1930 Irish Pubs Videos East Village

More Bars nearby

More places on 7th Street

Lost Gem
Tokio 7 1 Consignment Womens Shoes Mens Shoes Womens Clothing Mens Clothing East Village

Tokio 7

Most business owners know how difficult it is to bounce back after being robbed. Makoto Wantanabe has done it twice and, ironically, has a thief to thank for the very birth of Tokio 7. Makoto was globetrotting in the early 1990s when he arrived in Southern California on what was supposed to be the penultimate stop on his tour. He befriended a homeless man and let him stay in his hotel room for the night, but Makoto awoke to find everything except for his passport was stolen. Stranded with no money and far from his home in the Japanese countryside, Makoto called one of his only contacts in the U. S., who worked at a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan. He scrounged up enough money for a bus ticket and was off. While in New York, Makoto felt that men’s clothing suffered from a lack of style. Having always had a knack for fashion, he knew he could change that but lacked the funds to open a store with brand new clothing. So, after several years of saving his wages as a waiter, he founded one of the first consignment shops in New York City. Tokio 7 now carries men’s and women’s clothes, with the overarching theme being, as Makoto says, that they are simply “cool. ” The clothes are mostly from Japanese designers and name brands with unique twists. In the store, clothing that has been donated with a lot of wear is labeled “well loved. ”Despite its importance in the community, the shop fell on tough times during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, Tokio 7 was looted in the summer of 2020 and had 300 items stolen. When Makoto contemplated closing his doors permanently, longtime customers begged him to reconsider. Resilient as ever, he set up a small photography area in the back of the shop and sold a portion of his clothes online to compensate for the decline of in-person purchases. Reflecting on his journey, Makoto marveled at the whims of fate. Had he not been robbed all of those decades ago in California, he had planned to start a life in the Amazon rainforest

More American nearby

Lost Gem
Vic's 1 Brunch American Noho


Vicki Freeman and Mark Meyer are an accomplished couple in the New York restaurant business. They are the creators behind Cookshop, Hundred Acres, and the latest addition to the family, Rosie’s. Their story as restaurateurs goes back to 1993, when Freeman opened her first restaurant, VIX Café, in SoHo. She hired Meyer as her head chef, and as they say, the rest is history. Vic’s opened in 2014 in the space that used to house Five Points, another restaurant by Freeman and Meyer. While the owners emphasized that Five Points was not struggling, they felt it was time for a change. Opening Vic’s allowed Freeman and Meyer to bring their restaurant group full circle, its name a nod to those early beginnings with VIX Café in 1993. When I visited Vic’s, I was struck by the bright, open décor. Sitting in the back dining area, with natural light spilling in from the skylight overhead, I was allowed my favorite view - that of the kitchen. Chatting with general manager, Hely, I learned that Freeman and Meyer used to live in an apartment just upstairs, and that their son works for the restaurant group. In addition to speaking with Hely, I also had the pleasure of spending some time with Hillary Sterling - the head chef of Vic’s. “Hillary’s food is the easiest thing in the world to sell, ” said Hely, and then Chef Sterling went on to elaborate about her inspiration for the restaurant’s culinary concept and menu. “It’s all about history and honoring tradition, ” she told me. She prepares the restaurant’s traditional Italian and Mediterranean cuisine using food sourced from American farms, and admits that it is a challenge to create authentic flavors with local ingredients - It is a challenge, however, that she proudly declared that she has met with the exceptions being seven imported ingredients: 00 flour (for their famous Borsa), capers, anchovies, pecorino, calabrian chilies, and balsamic vinegar. As Hillary presented a few of her favorite dishes, she went on to say that traditional Italian and Mediterranean cuisine requires “a lot of herbs and acid, ” adding that it is all about achieving the perfect balance and appreciating the ingredients themselves. The heirloom carrots, served with dill, capers, and roasted shallots, were tangy and bright, with a complexity of flavor. As she set the "cheeseless" anchovy pizza with tomato, spring garlic, oregano, and fresh orange zest, Hillary told me that making good pizza dough is just as demanding as making homemade pasta, but it is clear that she has mastered it. The crust was perfect – thin, but bubbling up around the edges, and ever so slightly charred. Finally, I tasted the famous Borsa, the homemade pasta served al dente, with a lemon ricotta filling. The soft and creamy center of these amazing "little purses" with hazelnuts sprinkled on top is definitely the signature dish at Vic's. Chef Sterling said that the Borsa and the bathrooms are the most instagrammed things in the restaurant, and joked that her food has to "compete with the lavatories. " The facilities are whimsical and fun with pink flamingoes decorating the room for the ladies, while the men's room is wallpapered in zebras. In my mind, however, there is no competition: Chef Sterling’s food is what truly stands out.

More Beer Bars nearby

Lost Gem
Blue & Gold Tavern 1 Bars Beer Bars Sports Bars East Village

Blue & Gold Tavern

“By 1958, it was a social club. My grandfather's friends from Ukraine — everyone who had survived WWII — were spending time here. ” Mike’s grandfather, Michael Roscishewsky Sr., was very strict. He had a set of rules by which he ran Blue & Gold, named for the colors of his country’s flag. He wore a three-piece suit and tie topped with an apron every day. He also would not allow in anyone wearing denim, and women could not come in unaccompanied. “When he ultimately let women come in on their own, as well as people wearing jeans, he thought it was the end of the world, ” Mike shared. Mike’s grandfather traveled through Germany in the 1940s, then to England, and eventually landed in the East Village. He owned a grocery store on 10th Street, saved up enough money, and opened Blue & Gold. He ran the bar until he retired in 1981, and his daughter, Julia, Mike’s mom, took over. On Christmas Eve of 1989, when Mike was only seventeen, the bartender took the evening off. “I covered her shift, and since then I have worked behind the bar, here and there, while running the whole place. My mom retired in full in 2002. ” Back in the day, Blue & Gold opened at 9 a. m. as they welcomed the retired firemen, police officers, and other members of the community. “We were a family. If I was five minutes late, there was always a line of retired guys waiting for me. ” In the 1970s, Mike’s grandfather was one of the first to have a color TV, allowing people to come in to watch the Yankees. He also had an air conditioner, making it the place that everyone wanted to spend time. The flow of clientele was slow and steady: they would come in from opening until noon, have two or three drinks, and leave, and then the next shift would arrive to occupy the barstools between noon and 6 p. m. “They had their quotas of what they could drink and afford. Nobody drinks like that anymore. ”As the scene in the East Village began to change, Mike witnessed Blue & Gold transform from a place for old Ukrainians, to a hangout for musicians, poets, and artists, to becoming a college bar. During the week, they would greet the older clientele and on the weekends the younger folk. More recently, Mike found there is a switch where the regulars change up every five years or so. “Most come to New York with a hope and a dream and it takes them about this amount of time to realize it isn't, necessarily, going to work. However, all roads continue to lead to Blue & Gold. If you come to New York, you find your way to us. ”

More Founded before 1930 nearby

Lost Gem
William Barnacle Tavern 1 Bars Founded before 1930 East Village

William Barnacle Tavern

I have been visiting William Barnacle over the years - a tavern that specializes in absinthe and Scotch - since I first had the pleasure of meeting Lorcan Otway and his wife, Jeannie back in 2011. Each experience has been quite memorable. I never tire of hearing Lorcan share the history of the place. On one particular visit, I brought along members of the Manhattan Sideways team, who were quite pleased when Lorcan insisted that they each have a sip of his $100-a-shot Scotch from Islay. He explained to them that people can enjoy the experience of Scotch in so many ways. “The bouquet tells you something and the taste something else. ” He went on to say that “[Single Malt] Scotch is better than [blended] whiskey as it is a work of art – a transcendent experience. ”Lorcan is especially interested not just in the quality of what William Barnacle offers, but also the creativity and presentation. They serve fourteen types of Absinthe, sourced globally, and are always happy to talk to people about the rich history of this drink - illegal in America between 1912 and 2007. William Barnacle prepares absinthe traditionally, and “properly serves” each drink after one to two minutes of attentive preparation. “It’s a sipping drink, so it should be prepared slowly and carefully, ” Lorcan explained. Other than their extensive and unique drink selection, the tavern is also known for its artisanal sandwiches - which combine quality ingredients from around the world - events including Traditional Irish Music Monday, and, of course, its atmosphere. Lorcan described William Barnacle as the “kind of tavern you would want to be at. ”  He went on to say that with no loud music or television, people are free to talk, eat good food, have a good time, and learn about its long history. The tavern was "probably" built in the 1830’s, but the city had destroyed the records so Lorcan has never been able to confirm this. He knows every inch of the space, and is working on having it declared an historic site. In the 1960’s, his father, Howard Otway acquired the building that also houses Theatre 80, from the same people that originally ran the place as an illegal nightclub during The Prohibition Era. Wearing our hard hats, we followed Lorcan down the steps into the basement, in which smuggling tunnels, booby-trapped rooms, escape routes, and one corner in which the river-stone foundation­ - leftover from the space’s origin as a cabin built by a Dutch man in the 1630’s - are visible. Lorcan then walked us through the history of gangsters in America, giving us context to the building’s original purpose, at the adjoining Museum of the American Gangster. William Barnacle has a strong connection to the East Village. Between the thirty signatures signed by stars on the street outside - each tied in some way to the neighborhood - its impact on New York's theater, museum, and tavern culture, as well as that Lorcan's father had planted the first trees on St. Marks Place, it is easy to understand why Lorcan described 80 St. Marks as an “anchor in the neighborhood. ” He has certainly gone above and beyond his goal to “keep it relevant to the moment, while preserving the past. ”