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New York: A downtown Irish pub crawl

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Two beers for $5 at McSorley's Ale House. Photo: Flickr4Jazz
Two beers for $5 at McSorley's Ale House. Photo: Flickr4Jazz

By Suzanne Russo in New York—

Ah, March. You signify spring and longer days—and St. Patrick’s Day. And here in New York we love our Irish holiday almost as much as we love our Irish bars (and the Irish booze that’s served in them). And so, Cheapos, we bring you a downtown Irish pub crawl, New York-style.

New York pub crawl

Start with these four bars...

1. McSorley’s Old Ale House
15 East 7th Street
Web site

Call us sentimental, but we feel pretty strongly that a good New York Irish pub crawl (or any New York pub crawl, for that matter) should start with a pilgrimage to this New York City institution, the city’s oldest operating saloon.

Another reason to start here, incidentally, is that McSorley’s is one of the few New York bars that closes at 1 a.m., as we realized on a recent late-night visit. But when you’re this cool (and old), you can close whenever you want to.

Why do we gush so?

1) The bar, which was established in 1854, is a living museum, littered lovingly with everything from yellowed photographs to the chair in which Abraham Lincoln enjoyed his share of McSorley’s ale.

2) You get two drink options here, light or dark McSorley’s ale, and for $5 you get two glasses of it.

3) It’s been the subject an E.E. Cummings poem, a John Sloan painting and several short stories. Plus, its walls talk—and you can usually sweet talk the famously curmudgeonly bartenders to pick up where they left off.

2. Bull McCabe’s
21 Saint Marks Place
Web site

Just a block north of McSorely’s, the gritty little dive bar Bull McCabe’s dominates a somewhat kitchy block of St. Mark’s. The crowd here tends to be on the young and rowdy side, but the drinks are cheap, the music is fun and the pool table is… well, a pool table. There is also a great patio for those nice-weather days.

3. The Thirsty Scholar
155 Second Avenue
Web site

Those who like their pubbing on the more “refined” side (snobs!) would do well to check out Bull’s sister bar, the Thirsty Scholar. You bring your best James Joyce commentary, they supply the charcoal portraits of Samuel Beckett. Oh, and the libations of course, which are cheaper during daily happy hour, from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m.

4. Puck Fair
298 Lafayette Street
Web site

This tri-level bar just a block from EuroCheapo’s headquarters has a lot going for it, including a fun atmosphere and a crazy-comprehensive array of beers, both bottled and on tap. If the options are overwhelming, know that you’ll never go wrong with the Guinness, which, thanks to a schmancy cooling system, tastes almost as good as it does in Dublin.

A little trivia tidbit: The bar’s across from the gorgeous red Puck Building, but its name actually comes from the goat-themed festival that takes place every August in Killorglin, County Kerry (read about its history on the wall above the bar).

5. Molly’s Pub and Shebeen
287 Third Avenue
Web site

Still standing? Take a little breather by way of hopping on the “6″ train (at Bleecker and Lafayette) and making your way up to Gramercy Park. There awaits a gem of a joint, with sawdust-covered floors, stucco walls and a working fireplace. Molly’s has been doing its thing since 1895, paused only by a brief stint as a grocery store during Prohibition.

Molly’s is the adorable, friendly sort of spot on which modern Irish pubs model themselves. But Molly’s has experience on its side, and what better way to wrap up the night than with a few beers, a crackling fire and a bit more history. Oh, and don’t forget about your umpteen new friends (also known as the rowdy, cheerful crowd that goes hand in hand with any good Irish bar).

About the author

Suzanne Russo

About the author: Suzanne Russo thinks of herself as equal parts California Girl and New Yorker. She moved from San Francisco to New York four years ago to pursue her MA in English, and her obsession with all things New York life and history hasn’t dwindled yet. She is a freelance writer, director of the San Francisco-sponsored, New York literary pub crawl, Lit Crawl, and constant wanderer.

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3 Responses to “New York: A downtown Irish pub crawl”

Olivia Stone says:

Can’t wait for my trip to New York so I can go on an Irish pub crawl! My first pub crawl ever was in London, and I had sooo much fun. When I watched White Irish Drinkers, it definitely brought me back to those amazing moments in bars. Premiering at Craic Fest, and I’m totally stoked. http://bit.ly/eavzAE

Richie says:

If you crawl the pubs of NYC, be sure to start with some protein. It has been years for me, but I fondly recall the liverwurst sandwiches at McSorley’s complementing the beer.

Pete Meyers Pete Meyers says:

Good point Richie. I’d also throw in that including a stop or two at Ray’s Pizza along the way is a wise move.

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