About usPartner with usSign up to our Newsletter

William Barnacle Tavern

William Barnacle Tavern 1 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village

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.”

Sign up to Sidestreet Updates
William Barnacle Tavern 7 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 8 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 9 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 10 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 11 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 1 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 2 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 3 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 4 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 5 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 6 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 12 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 13 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 14 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village
William Barnacle Tavern 15 Bars Founded Before 1930 East Village

More Bars nearby

More places on 8th Street

Lost Gem
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor 1 Bars Beer Bars undefined

Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor

What a find... down a flight of stairs from street level on 8th Street, Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor is the "antithesis of a sports bar. " Artisan and craft beer are brought together in a friendly environment that certainly had us feeling like we were right at home. The Parlor is also named for the Arts and Crafts movement, “a cultural revolt against the ideals of industrialization. ”When we visited, we spoke to Robert, one of the two owners, with whom we thoroughly enjoyed chatting. Robert is an internationally recognized speaker and writer on dining out and traveling with special diets (he co-authored the series Let’s Eat Out! ), and he also has a background in acting and producing on Broadway. He told us that the other owner, Don, has an impressive resume working with the FBI and counterterrorism efforts both in New York and around the world - which left us wondering what brought this dynamic duo together as friends and eventually co-owners. Robert informed us it was a love of American Craft Beer and the visual and performing arts... and that they actually met enjoying a pint of beer in Manhattan. Just as intriguing as its owners, the interior of Arts and Crafts is beautifully designed; the sophisticated wallpaper is custom made by Bradbury and Bradbury, and the soft green and beige pattern was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite, supposedly. The constantly changing art is displayed along the wall opposite the bar, and an exposed brick wall and fireplace give the parlor a true “extension of your living room” feel. Described by Robert, as the “Bugatti of beer systems, ” the twenty plus beers the Parlor keeps on tap rotate monthly and are kept by this state of the art system at a refreshing 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Robert also astounded us with how small the carbon footprint of the Parlor is — he told us they are very conscious of keeping things compostable and earth-friendly. In addition to their rotating display of art from both established and up-and-coming artists, the Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor also hosts a monthly lecture series on the subjects of art as well as culinary topics. We could not get enough of how interesting this place is — both the concept of art and beer coming together and the two fascinating minds behind it.

More Founded Before 1930 nearby

Lost Gem
McSorley's Old Ale House 1 Bars Beer Bars Pubs Irish Videos American Founded Before 1930 Family Owned Historic Site undefined

McSorley's Old Ale House

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.

Lost Gem
3rd Street Music School 1 Non Profit Organizations Music Schools Founded Before 1930 undefined

3rd Street Music School

“Third Street is a power house — a place where people can get affordable music lessons and have an opportunity to grow not just as a student but as an individual, ” Executive Director Valerie Lewis said. Over a century after its founding, the Third Street Music Settlement has progressed from teaching piano and violin to offering classes in twenty-five instruments, as well as dance and composition in “every genre from hip-hop to oboe and rock bands to orchestras. ”Third Street was founded by Emily Wagner based on the idea that “music plays a critical role not only in the development of a child but in the advancement of society. ” What began as a music school “expanded beautifully into a full settlement house. ” At one point, Third Street was giving individual lessons and orchestra experiences while also providing temporary housing and even advanced medical procedures. Like many of the settlement houses at the time, it was responding to the needs of the expanding immigrant population of the Lower East Side at the turn of the twentieth century. Third Street’s focus eventually shifted away from social services and back to music, keeping the word “settlement” in the name as an affirmation of music’s enormous social and cultural power. While classes at Third Street may no longer cost twenty-five cents as they did in the time of Emily Wagner, there is still a place for everyone. Valerie said that Third Street “never turns away a student because of their inability to pay. At the core of what we do is ensuring access. ” What all people at Third Street share is “the elation that comes from playing the simplest notes and the most complicated chords together. ”