McSorley’s – Be good or be gone

Mcsorley's Dark ale and mustard
Mcsorley’s Dark ale and mustard

McSorley’s Old Ale House is one of my favorite places to go for a night out when the weather gets cold. While many chain restaurants try to create a history by hanging someone else’s stuff on the walls, McSorley’s has got the real deal. The bar has been around since 1854, operating even during prohibition. The floors are covered in sawdust, and the rest of the place is covered in regular dust (most of which is probably older than you or I). The atmosphere is friendly and casual. The bar staff are gruff but friendly, and they will be happy to answer any questions you ask. When the bar gets crowded, you may have to share your table with strangers. I’ve met some great people there… so don’t be afraid! The menu is pretty limited, but a perfect compliment to the place. The burgers are good, and if you want a light snack, the cheese platter consisting of sliced cheddar, saltines (still in the wrapper) and onions is a good bet. You could spend a few days looking over the photos of famous people (and some infamous ones like Boss Tweed) who have patronized the bar in the past. The items I love to look at are the personal knick-knacks that people have left over the years… fire helmets, police badges, pipes etc etc. Each one has a story that is lost to time. Also, anyone paying a visit to McSorely’s must check out the urinals in the men’s room. Ladies, don’t be shy. Tell any gentlemen in there that you want to see the urinals, and they will be quite understanding. Another piece of history that is not to be missed is the legendary gas chandelier…

McSorley’s Chandelier

The chandelier is covered in dust dating back to WWI. If you look at the photo above, you will see a number of wishbones straddling the lamp. WWI Doughboys shipping out to war left the wisbones hanging for luck. Those who returned, retrieved their wishbones, but many remain still waiting for some unfortunate soldier to claim them. A word of warning… Don’t touch the lamp. It is a memorial, and the people at McSorley’s expect it to be treated as such.

Be Good or Be Gone

In the photo at the top of this post, you will see a number of glasses of dark beer. You only have two choices, light beer (amber colored, not lo-cal) or dark. They come 2 glasses at a time ($4 per round). At one time the brewed their own beer, but I think someone makes it for them these days.

Pot Belly Stove

My favorite seat in the place is next to the old pot belly stove. In the winter time it is lit and stoaked with coal, and on a cold night it warms the soul nicely.

McSorley’s Cat

You may also get paid a visit by one of the cats that live in the bar. They like the stove as much as I do.

If you live in NYC or are just passing through, make sure to pay a visit to a place that is truly a gem of NYC history. Cheers!

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