The Oldest Bars in New York City

212Access January 29, 2012 2
The Oldest Bars in New York City

There is something about walking inside an old apartment or building that seems to take you back to time. It’s even better when you’re drinking.

Some of the oldest bars in the country were built in New York and a few of them are still open to patrons. While the crowd and styles may have changed over the centuries – one thing didn’t: the pub’s atmosphere. Here are the oldest bars in New York City in case you’re looking for a different kind of culture.


Bridge Café – 279 Water St: The Bridge Café has been a drinking establishment since 1847, making it the oldest running bar in NYC. Located right next to the Brooklyn Bridge it is said to still serve the best soft shell crab in the city. There is this quiet, undiscovered charm that still separates this area from the touristy madness at the seaport.It’s a great bar to escape the city madness. It’s even better for a romantic date .


McSorley’s Old Ale House- 15 East 7th Street: This is the first licensed and oldest Irish bar in New York City. Irish immigrant John McSorley opened the famous Ale House in 1854. Everyone from Abraham Lincoln to John Lennon has visited McSorley’s for a famous pint and burger. There is history, character, and beer all in one place and now even ladies. Up until 1970 women weren’t permitted, reinforced by the slogan “Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies”. Word of advice, if you go at night don’t wear loose fitting shoes because the soles will stick to the beer and sawdust slathered floor, and slip off. McSorley’s is always busy at night and nearly impossible to get a table so you need to get there early.


P.J. Clarkes – 915 Third Ave: Established in 1854, this bar has been around as long as the building has. Despite the recent renovation, checkered tablecloths, the “out of order” payphone, chalkboard, jukebox, and broken cigarette machine are still in their original places. You get the feel as if you’re in a 1940s gangster movie set while here. Known for their burgers it’s a popular spot in midtown. Ask for a seat in the back dining room so you can check out the chalkboards of specials, which are 100 years old and still going strong.


White Horse Tavern – 567 Hudson St: The bar opened in 1880 but was known as a popular hangout for longshoreman. Not until the early 50s did it become known as a frequent destination for Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, and a number of famous writers. This tavern also has outdoor seating for warm summer days. In the winter, it’s just as comfortable and cozy with their blazing heat. Cash only, full bar inside (not just beer), no pushy service so you can hang out as long as you want.


Ear Inn – 326 Spring St: The Ear Inn was originally owned by James Brown, aide to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. It was used as a brewery, bar, and restaurant in the beginning of the 19th century and later went on to becoming a speakeasy during prohibition. The apartment upstairs was said to have been used as a boarding house, smuggler’s den, and brothel house. The prices are reasonable despite the history and there is plenty of space in the back room if you’re with a big group of people.