102. McSorley’s Ale House, New York, NY

25 06 2011


Their website says “We were here before you were born,” and that pretty much sums it up. A bar that does not aspire to be anything but it is and has always been. They opened in 1854 and apparently haven’t change much – save being required by the US Supreme Court in 1970 to allow women in. The beer is light or dark, and comes two for $5. The menu is whatever the girl in the closet sized kitchen is cooking. Prices are reasonable and after a day walking around the lower east side it hit the spot. Sawdust on the floor and 150 year old relics sit alongside newspaper clippings, campaign pins, and other assorted decorations the place has accumulated over the years. Jennifer and I went and bellied up to a bar that’s a little shorter than what you’re used to. She’s a pretty good sport for a wine drinker, and considering we were only in NYC for a few days it was nice of her to work her tourist interests around my beer list schedule. Good to have a travel partner who’s up for anything. The barkeep was friendly, Irish – as were all the servers – and funny. When a table freed up we had a seat and ordered some food – catching on to the shared tables policy too late to join in the fun. We had a good enough time to return to McSorley’s a night or two later – though we only had a few days in the city the experience was one we wanted to repeat and share with friends. On our second trip we sat in the famous back room – which served beer during prohibition – and enjoyed great beer and great company. Seeing as how they serve exactly two types of beer McSorley’s may seem like an odd choice for this list, but remember, it’s not a beer snob tour – it’s about experiences. McSorley’s makes the list because it’s one of the most unique places you could ever have a beer – and you might walk right by it and never know what you missed.

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