Friday, 19 February 2010

McSorley's Old Ale House

15 East 7th Street, New York
Visited 18th February 2010

McSorley's Old Ale House is the oldest continuous running pub in New York and perhaps the United States. It was founded by Irishman John McSorley in 1854 and has remarkably be pouring out the same beer ever since. I'd organised to meet some friends for lunch here and really didn't know what to expect. The sawdust on the floor impressed me, as did the rustic wooded tables, stained with beer from year-a-year. This place was packed with fascinating memorabilia and apparently they have never removed anything from the walls. There wasn't a hint of the 'circus' aspect so often found in places of this nature (just look at the Hong Kong chain with the same name). I arrived first and must have looked a little confused as I stood at the bar. The bartender threw me a knowing smile as he quietly asked "light or dark". Yep that's it folks McSorley's just serves two drinks; both their own, original recipe beer (though I do think they also sell sodas). Starting with a light I was presented with TWO sloshing glasses of a creamy, gutsy larger. My mate, who had eventually managed to sneak out of the office, explained the theory behind the two three quarter full glasses rather than a single full one was to make pouring faster in peak periods. We switched to the more full and rich dark ale and managed to get through quite a few. OK so I was impressed with the setting, impressed with the beer, but how was the food? To be honest I've got no idea. I met my mate for lunch, I saw a chalkboard advertising sandwiches, but apart from sharing a plate of cheese and crackers, it somehow ended up being a liquid lunch. McSorley's Old Ale House could have so easily become a tourist trap, but it wasn't. This place really was an authentic old school pub; most of the drinkers were regulars and there wasn't a souvenir t-shirt in sight.
I loved the simple beer selection, I loved the two half filled handles and I would have dearly loved to have tried the food. I had a blinder of a time at McSorley's and will remember it fondly when I think of New York.

Visit pub website.

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