If you’re the type of person who hunts for authenticity in everything you do, then you probably spend a fair amount of time looking for the first and original. Why settle for any less in your bar choices? We dug through records, spoke with local historians and fact-checked promotional material to bring you the ultimate original bar list: The oldest bar in every state.
In some states, the title was claimed by multiple locations. Part of that is due to different definitions of “oldest,” like the question of whether it should be the oldest continuously running spot, or the bar in the oldest building. Other discrepancies came down to shoddy records, or the fact that the bar was rebuilt from the ground up, or picked up and moved to a different location.
We sorted out the facts and can present you with the oldest bar in each of the 50 states.
When the Peerless Saloon opened in 1899, it quickly made a name for itself thanks to seven-ounce pours of barrel-strength whiskey and a brothel run by a woman referred to simply as “Madam.” The spot had a hard time staying open after Prohibition rocked the country (a common theme on this list), and held different businesses for decades. In 1985, it was added to the Register of Historic places. Today, it’s a restaurant, bar and music venue anchored by a large mahogany bar from 1904 and booths made out of repurposed church pews.
T.P. Crockmeire’s is sometimes listed as the oldest, but it originally started in Atlanta in 1875 and wasn’t moved to Alabama until 1973.
The Red Onion Saloon opened as a brothel during the peak of the Klondike Gold Rush. Miners filtered in through the first floor bar for years while there was still promise of gold, but eventually went elsewhere. Without that steady stream of thirsty men, the building found other uses as barracks, a laundry, bakery and television station. Today, it’s (kind of) returned back to its roots as what is probably the only brothel-themed bar and pizzeria in the world.
The B&B Bar in Kodiak deserves a shout out as well, even though it’s not the oldest. It opened in 1906 and still holds Alaska’s oldest liquor license.
Prescott’s historic Whiskey Row has plenty of good bars to choose from, but few have the reputation of the Palace. In the early days, it served as a public meeting spot for elections and city notices. In 1900, the Whiskey Row fire took the building. Loyal patrons saved the original bar that’s still in use today and rebuilt around it. President Teddy Roosevelt, John Wayne and Doc Holliday have all allegedly visited the Palace.
Gambling and drinking was the name of the game at the Ohio Club. Gangsters from the 1920s and ‘30s like Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, Bugs Moran and Lucky Luciano allegedly stopped by while traveling through the middle of the country. During those dry years, it turned into the “Ohio Cigar Store,” which was a real mullet of a business. The business in the front was a 10-foot cigar shop, while the party in the back was the illegal bar and gambling den. On the more legal side, Babe Ruth and Mae West were also patrons.
The Saloon has been through a lot, to put it lightly. It’s so old that it predates the name of the street upon which it is located. The bar and brothel’s early popularity with firemen and sailors earned it a reputation, but it also might have saved the business during the 1906 earthquake. Allegedly, as fires raged and destroyed the city, The Saloon received special, building-saving attention. The seedier days are behind the building, but the establishment is still a notable place to visit.
Buffalo Rose Tavern was born in the Rockies and has defined the Colorado territory. The second floor of the building was the first public hall before statehood, and some heavy politicking went down over drinks here—including by General Ulysses S. Grant and General William Sherman.
Throughout 2018, Buffalo Rose is going under renovations and won’t be open to the public. The second oldest to visit during that time is J-Bar in Aspen inside the Hotel Jerome. It opened in 1889 and has the dubious honor of the birthplace of “Aspen Crud,” which is five scoops of vanilla ice cream and three ounces of bourbon.
1776 was a good year for America. The Griswold Inn shares a birth year with the U.S., and the Tap Room that’s still used today was built in 1735. President George Washington, Mark Twain and Albert Einstein have all stopped by for a taste of the Gris’, and you can too.
The Deer Park Tavern was only built in 1851, but its history as a bar goes back much, much further. The first drinks slung in the location in which Deer Park now sits were slung at the St. Patrick’s Inn, built in 1757. Washington supped there during the Revolutionary War, and Edgar Allen Poe was carried into the tavern on the shoulders of bar patrons in 1843. The original burned, and The Deer Park Tavern was immediately built in its place.
Jessop’s Tavern is often credited, but it’s only the oldest building with a bar in it in Delaware. Bar and restaurant service didn’t start until 1996.
Florida isn’t designed for longevity, but The Palace Saloon holds strong. It’s, well, palatial. It was built in 1903 with the help of Adolphus Busch (yes, that Busch), and made its name as the last American tavern to officially close during Prohibition. It proudly carries the title of “Florida’s oldest saloon in the same place, under the same name.”
An honorable mention is the Green Parrot Bar in Key West, which opened as a grocery in 1890. The drinking in the back was originally only for locals, but it officially became a bar in the mid-1900s. Today it has a super sketchy live webcam pointed at the bar.
Located just a block from the Savannah River, the place first opened as an inn and drinking spot. Sailors (not all of whom were pirates, probably) frequented the spot. Today it’s decidedly less boisterous with just as strong a focus on family fun as on drinking.
After Hawaii was taken by the U.S., but before Hawaii became a major tourist destination, it had a thriving red light district and gambling scene. Smack in the middle was Smith’s, yet it was so small it had no choice but to stay out of the illegal sex and casino business. So while the feds were shutting down the bars around Smith’s, it survived. You have to be thankful for that small size, because if it were any bigger, there probably wouldn’t be a Smith’s Union Bar to drink at today.
A name like the Snake Pit conjures up images of every vice imaginable rolled into one, and if you visited the bar in its heyday that’s likely what you would have seen. It’s been known by many names, but it’s always served drinks and food. In its past, it was also a “house of ill repute” for lonely loggers and miners. The name was briefly changed to the Enaville Resort in 1975 in an attempt to make the place more respectable and possibly get a liquor license, Tom Richards, the owner of The Snake Pit, tells Supercall. It didn't work, and the bar kept it's reputation. It also couldn't get a liquor license thanks to an Idaho law that only granted licenses to bars in incorporated cities. In 1990, the state legislature added an exception to the law specifically designed for The Snake Pit: Establishments that have been in "continuous operation" for at least 75 years officially qualified. The Snake Pit now legally serves liquor, but, as Richards says, "if we were to ever close we would lose the license and would have to run for another 75 years to get it back."
If there’s only one other thing to know about The Village Tavern besides its age, it’s that there’s a huge 35-foot long mahogany bar. And while that’s where the best times can be had, there’s also a 200-person dining room. That’s a lot of space for a lot of people through history.
Despite its Yankee name, the Knickerbocker is as Indiana as it gets when it comes to bars. Presumably, Hoosier Saloon just didn’t have the same ring to it. Regardless, it has the first liquor license in the state and hangs it proudly on the wall. It claims to have hosted President Grant, Mark Twain, Al Capone (the guy got around) and Neil Armstrong. Today, there are 80 beers to choose from.
Family runs deep at Breitbach’s. Jacob Breitbach purchased the spot in 1862 and renamed it, and now his great-great grandson Mike Breitbach owns it. Perseverance also runs deep, and a handiness for rebuilding. An explosion took the place out in 2007, and it was rebuilt exactly like it looked before. Then, in 2008, another fire took the new building out. Once again, it was rebuilt and here we are.
Daniel Boone’s great-grandson Seth Hays arrived in Council Grove in 1847 with intentions of selling goods on the Santa Fe Trail. Ten years later he opened Hays House, and the liquor has (mostly) flowed ever since. That is because every Saturday night, the bottles were covered up for the church goers the next morning. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t loved. When the roof caught fire in 1886, people rushed to save the local tavern from burning. Bars are beyond a doubt unifying structures in the face of fires.
Talbott tavern looks like it’s straight out of old England, but it’s very American. It was a Kentucky bourbon bar before bourbon bars were a thing—heck, even before bourbon was officially bourbon. Abraham Lincoln stayed here when he was five, just before his parents lost their land and moved to Indiana. On a lighter historical note, Jesse James stopped by, too—and he left his mark. Bullet holes from James are on the wall to this day, adding some good ol’ American spirit to the renowned stone work.
New Orleans has a long history of love and appreciation for absinthe, and the Old Absinthe House continues that tradition to this day. Originally called Aleix’s Coffee House, properly poured absinthe has always been one of the spot’s main focuses. In 1874, the Absinthe Frappe was created in the building, and in 1890 it changed its name to The Absinthe Room to better reflect its dedication to the spirit.
The bar Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is in a building constructed sometime between 1722 and 1732 by pirates and slave traders and often gets credit for being the oldest, but it didn’t become a place for legal drinks until the 1950s. It is, however, most likely the oldest building used as a bar today (and also reportedly haunted).
Without Jameson Tavern, there would be no Maine, probably. It’s alleged that the papers that made Maine independent of Massachusetts in 1820 were signed here. That’s where it earned the nickname “The Birthplace of Maine.” And it’s a good thing Maine did break off, because if Jameson Tavern was still in Massachusetts, its 3-hour, $3 happy hour would be illegal under Massachusetts’ anti-happy hour law.
The Founding Fathers liked to drink, and the country’s oldest bars like to mention which Founding Fathers visited their establishment—especially when it’s George Washington. Middleton Tavern is no exception, and also boasts serving Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
Reynolds across the street also claims the oldest bar title since it originally opened in 1747. The only issue is that the building housed the Farmers National Bank for the majority of its existence and only became a bar again in 1992.
The Warren Tavern was the first building to be rebuilt in Charlestown after the British burned the city down during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Paul Revere was partial to the bar, as was George Washington.
There’s also the Green Dragon in Boston, which was founded in 1654 and is known as the “Headquarters of the Revolution.” While it’s older and still open, it’s no longer in its original location.
When early Americans first got to Michigan, they clearly needed a drink: Old Tavern Inn is not only the oldest bar in the state, it’s the oldest business in all of Michigan that’s still operating in its original building. Plus, it has hot ham smothered in gooey American cheese. What’s not to love?
Neumann’s Bar opened in what was then a small settlement called Castle as soon as the rail line reached the area. It was made to serve Hamm’s beer, and did so until 1920 when Prohibition started. The folks at Neumann’s knew that you shouldn’t stop a good thing though, and survived by selling legal near beer in the main bar, bait for fishermen in the basement and the good stuff in a speakeasy upstairs.
You probably wouldn’t guess at Kings Tavern’s history by walking into the place. It’s owned by farm-to-table chef Regina Charboneau and has an upscale menu along with its drinks. Yet it wasn’t always this charming. It claims to be the oldest building in the state, and in the 1930s, a woman, two men and a bejeweled dagger were found stuffed inside the walls.
All Joseph Huston wanted was a home, but what he ended up with was a tavern. In 1834, Huston’s home quickly became a gathering spot for travelers heading west as well as Arrow Rock residents. The name stuck, and J. Huston Tavern claims to be the oldest continuously serving restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Come for the drinks, stay for the fried chicken.
This bar is all that and a Bale of Hay. It’s run by sisters Gay and Kay and bills itself as an authentic Wild West saloon, only with Montana craft beer and craft spirits. The focus here is just as much on the seedy history as the drinks. There are “brothel days” with lectures, bed races and a costume party.
Nowhere has stayed as true to itself for more than 140 years like Glur’s Tavern has. A photo of the front from 1899 shows how the building looked back then, and not much has changed. The weather has done a number on the outside, and it still shakes from the nearby railroad tracks. But the beer and burgers inside are still cheap, and you can still sit at one of three original wooden tables.
Genoa Bar is the Wild West, if the movies are to believed. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood Westerns were filmed at “Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor,” as well as a Coors Light commercial. It’s crammed with old stuff, including a mirror that has only left the bar three times, the last of which was in 1910 when the Genoa Fire took out most of the town.
The Hancock Inn is just a year younger than Hancock, and was the first tavern, sleeping place and restaurant in the state. Franklin Pierce, the only president to come from New Hampshire, loved the spot. Now there’s whirlpool tubs and jacuzzis in the rooms, but also, you know, history.
The Barnsboro Inn was originally built as a log cabin home in 1720. It officially turned into a tavern in the same year the U.S. officially declared independence. It’s grown over the years, but that original log cabin vibe still persists.
The Yankee Doodle Tap Room in Princeton started in 1756 and deserves an honorable mention, but the location moved to a building attached to the Nassau Inn. The only thing that remains of the original bar is an hearth from its opening year.
What was once the sole drinking establishment along a lonely road through New Mexico territory is now a Spanish bar with big flavor. The dirt trail in front has been upgraded and the long list of cocktails are modern, but the building, ghosts of drinkers past and live flamenco are traditional.
The building was put up in 1668, turned into a tavern in 1754, and was used as a meeting spot for Americans long before thoughts of independence were taken seriously. It earned the nickname as “the listening post of the Revolution” for its role in passing news, and was even briefly a prison for the traitorous spy Major John André.
This spot keeps it old school. Like, Moravian garb old school. The servers dress in the traditional clothes of 19th century Salem while serving up farm-to-table food and local craft beers. It’s like nothing has changed.
The bar known as Peacock Alley opened at the bottom of the Patterson Hotel just after Prohibition ended, but the hotel secretly sold alcohol throughout. Today it’s a lot more…tame. The hotel closed in 1970 and now the rooms are used for senior housing for all the geriatrics who always dreamed of living above a bar.
It’s not only the oldest bar, but also the oldest licensed building in all of Ohio. It started out as a two-story log building built for the love of good food and a place to stay, but as Ohio became more populous, the alcohol started to flow. The tavern has served as a place for people to sit and talk law and politics, as well as the spot where letters would be dropped off for Ohio travelers. Today, the tavern portion of the building runs under the name Black Horse Tavern.
The proclamation of “oldest in Oklahoma” is right there on the building’s awning. Granted, it closed for a spell during Prohibition, but it opened right after. The biggest draw for the place, other than the whole age thing, is a giant bar in the back that was hand carved in Spain in the 1800s. It was shipped to California during the Gold Rush, and then somehow made it all the way inland to Eishen’s Bar, where it has sat ever since.
Back in the 1900s, Huber’s used to want people to drink their beer so badly that they’d give customers a free turkey sandwich with each beer. Eventually they became just as known for their turkey as for their beer, and the bird meat sales kept the spot open during Prohibition. Today, it’s most famous on the drinks front for a flaming beverage they call the Spanish Coffee that’s made tableside with Bacardi 151, Bols Triple Sec, Kahlúa, coffee, whipped cream and nutmeg.
It’s not the oldest bar continuously run in the same location though, as it’s moved around a bit. That distinction belongs to the Pioneer Saloon in Paisley, which opened in 1883.
Back in the day, Ambler was just a small farming town where travelers would occasionally pass through. When they did, they’d stop by Broad Axe Tavern to meet the locals and buy some homemade liquor and hear the news be read aloud. The bar has plenty of stories to tell—ghost stories in particular.
A home is a home until it turns into a bar. A man named Francis Brinley built his home in 1652, and 21 years later it served its first legal drink. Leading up to the Revolutionary War, it served as the colony house meeting place for the General Assembly, and was only briefly vacated when Hessian mercenaries sent by the British took it over. Today, the bar has a focus on rum, just like the colonials of yore would expect.
No matter how good you think you are at feasting, you’ll never be George Washington eating a 30-course meal at McCrady’s good. That happened in 1791, and the bar continued its legendary service until around 1801. It wasn’t until 1982 that it returned to its former glory as a place to dress up and eat and drink until you can’t feel your body.
When Buffalo Bodega Bar opened in 1877, it was the 18th bar in Deadwood. Now it’s the only original bar left standing. And yes, it’s named after that Buffalo Bill, who was the hunting partner of the original owner, Mike Russell.
Possibly the diviest of dive bars in the entire country, Springwater’s been serving alcohol legally and illegally since it opened in 1896. Local legend says that Al Capone and Hank Williams have stopped by, while modern celebrities like Taylor Swift, Kesha and Kid Rock have definitely grabbed a drink here. It’s unassuming, small and looks like a shack, but it’s charming.
It’s not just the oldest bar in Texas, it’s also the oldest operating biergarten in all of America. Scholz keeps its tradition alive with German food while also serving as a modern place to watch all things Longhorn-sports related.
Built in the 1850s as a standard goods store, Shooting Star transformed into a saloon in 1879. That’s what it’s been ever since, even through Prohibition, when a husband-wife team would keep the place open through jail stints and raids by the feds. Just don’t be thrown off by the massive taxidermied St. Bernard mounted on the wall. His name is Buck, and he held the Guinness World Record for largest St. Bernard in the ‘50s.
Ye Olde Tavern has had its ups and downs over the years. Originally called The Stagecoach Inn, it served as the headquarters for the movement to sell alcohol in the state in 1902 (Vermont had a pre-Prohibition prohibition from 1850 to 1902). The original uneven floorboards and slanting doorways are still a fixture today.
Before America broke off its ties with Britain, this four story building was selling beers and serving as a public gathering place. During the Civil War, the bar was allegedly used as a surgeon’s operating table. Good thing alcohol sterilizes.
People don’t often volunteer to go to jail, but the basement jail cell at The Brick Saloon is a different story. While no one is incarcerated in the cell anymore, it’s a bonus attraction at the already Hollywood famous spot. The Brick Saloon was depicted as an Alaska bar on the TV series Northern Exposure. It’s definitely not in Alaska, but that doesn’t mean Holling Vincoeur diehards won’t still get a kick out of visiting.
If judged not by continuously running and only by being a bar, the Oak Harbor Tavern in Oak Harbor takes the cake. It opened in 1856 and has been many different things, but today it’s a divey old bar.
Originally just a pub, the North End Tavern opened up a brewery in 1997 and is also now one of the state’s oldest craft breweries, too. It’s one of the main attractions in the 30,000-person town of Parkersburg, which is the fourth most populous city in West Virginia.
The M & M Bar may not look like much, but it has a past. In early Wisconsin history, Watertown was a two-hotel town that served as a stopping point for people traveling from the east side of Wisconsin to the West. The first hotel to pop up was the one in which M & M sits now, The Exchange. Naturally, a bar was included, and it was the only commercial business in Watertown for two years.
The oldest bar in the oldest incorporated town in Wyoming. It’s old, and there’s a good chance that the biggest bar in your city can hold more people than the entire 60-person population of Hartville. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit, though.