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McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York’s East Village is hardly a hidden gem.
Given its status as New York’s “oldest continuously operated saloon,” most guidebooks recommend a visit and the weekend lines tend to trail out the front door. And if you visit during peak hours you’ll have a hard time finding a spot to sit, let alone be able to easily navigate to McSorley’s 19th-century restrooms.
The good news, though, is with just a little planning, a visit to McSorley’s is a memorable and charming experience that taps into layers of New York’s history.
Here are a few tips for making the most of a visit to McSorley’s:
Seize the day
Planning on a leisurely drink at McSorley’s on a Saturday night? So are hundreds of other people. Consider visiting on a weekday night or, better yet, during the afternoon when you can easily get a table and linger. (The weekday early afternoon crowd is quite a bit more “legit,” in any case.)
It’s like a museum, but with beer
Many famous patrons spent time at McSorley’s throughout its 150-year history. Abe Lincoln, John Lennon, e.e. cummings, and Woodie Guthrie are a few of the notable names. McSorley’s takes special care to hang pictures, newspaper clippings and other relics to be admired by customers. So take your time and browse a little, but watch where you walk – they keep sawdust on the floor and it can get a little slippery.
Pass on the daiquiris
Ordering a drink at McSorley’s is easy and you only have to know two words. You can get your beer either “light” or “dark.” McSorley’s only serves “McSorley’s” beer, natch, and customers always receive two beers per order rather than one. After all, as the bartenders are quick to point out, “you can never have just one beer.”
Enjoy the curmudgeons
The bartenders at McSorley’s take well deserved pride in their establishment, but are a little light on the small talk. Don’t be offended–it’s all part of the “charm” and experience.
Not able to visit?
If you’d like to see the inside of McSorley’s but aren’t able to visit New York soon, have a look at the nifty virtual tour tool on McSorley’s website.
Do you have other tips and feedback for visiting McSorley’s? Leave a comment below and tell us!
McSorley’s Ale House
15 E 7th St
New York, NY 10003
Open Mon-Sat 11am-1am; Sun 1pm-12am