Food & Drink

These are Manhattan’s 10 oldest bars

Published On 09/01/2014 Published On 09/01/2014
McSorley's Old Ale House
Flickr/ Alan Levine
Facebook/ Fraunces Tavern Whiskey Society
Facebook/ PJ Clarke's
Flickr/ Alan Turkus
Flickr/ Prayinto Photography
Facebook/ Julius'
Flickr/ Alan Turkus
Facebook/ Mulberry Street Bar
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1. Pete's Tavern 129 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003 (Gramercy)

Surviving the Depression and two World Wars means Pete’s Tavern was established in 1864, and even stayed open during Prohibition, when it masked itself as a flower shop while still serving alcohol. Initially called Healy’s Cafe, the place didn’t get the name Pete’s Tavern until Pete Belle purchased the property in 1932. Sidle up to the intricately carved rosewood bar and order one (or four) of the house special, the 1864 Original House Ale.

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2. McSorley's Old Ale House 15 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003 (Lower East Side)

Opened in 1854, McSorley’s is the oldest still-running saloon in NYC, and was one of the last “Men Only” pubs in NY (until 1970). When you visit, you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped into a bit of city history -- after all, you'll be sitting at the very same counter Abe Lincoln and John Lennon did. McSorley’s also keeps it real with just two beers -- the house ale, light or dark, and nothing else.

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3. Ear Inn 326 Spring St, New York, NY 10013 (Soho)

More than a century ago, this SoHo watering hole was a hotspot for sailors waiting for their ships to dock. The Ear Inn is a designated landmark of the City of New York, and the cheeseburger is a designated bar burger of the City of New York (designated by Thrillist, of course). The prime sirloin number topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion is something you absolutely have to check off your NYC burger bucket list, whether you're from here or not. It’s big, it’s juicy, and it goes perfectly with a pint.

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4. Fraunces Tavern 54 Pearl St, New York, NY 10004 (Financial District)

This Pearl St boozery/resto has something for everyone, whether you're looking for a solid adult beverage (their whiskey list is extensive and impressive) or a delicious meal (with everything from burgers to pot pie to penne).

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5. P.J. Clarke's 915 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022 (Midtown)

A New York institution, P.J. Clarke's has delivered on the fancy cheeseburger promise since 1884. And while Midtown in the new millennia no longer projects late-20th century old money glam, the venue continues to maintain a setting of demure class. Come for the bacon cheeseburgers, stay for the exemplary cocktails.

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6. White Horse Tavern 567 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

Dating back to 1880 as a hangout for longshoremen, this West Village saloon later became a popular gathering spot for literary lushes like Michael Harrington, James Baldwin, Dan Wakefield, John Ashbery, and Hunter S. Thompson; a popular myth even says that Dylan Thomas’ ghost haunts his favorite table in the room where his picture now hangs. Take your chances with a ghost run-in and enjoy the roomy West Village digs (a rarity for the neighborhood's bars) with a beer or cocktail, but remember to grab cash beforehand, since debit and credit aren't accepted.

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7. Landmark Tavern 626 11th Ave, New York, NY 10036 (Hells Kitchen)

This Hell’s Kitchen bar is one of the oldest in New York, (it opened in 1868!). It was eventually renovated in the early 2000s in the hands of new owners, but it still retains its historic charm, including tin ceilings and an original mahogany bar carved from a single tree. The menu lacks pretty much all pretense with items like Shepherd’s pie, Scotch eggs, potato and leek soup, and fish and chips.

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8. Julius' 159 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

One of the oldest gay bars in New York, Julius' is a laid-back tavern in the West Village. Three dollar well drinks, five dollar burgers, and a jukebox make this spot a classic for both tourists and locals.

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9. Old Town Bar 45 E 18th St., New York, NY 10003 (Union Square)

While many other bars are trying to create it, old-school New York charm comes naturally to this institution, which has been slinging drinks since 1882 (then known as Viemeister’s). The charm, however, is not the only anachronism that makes it so popular: Old Town also boasts a mahogany bar, distressed mirrors, a dumbwaiter, and high, tin ceilings.

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10. Mulberry Street Bar 176 1/2 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013 (Little Italy)

This Little Italy bar, opened in 1908, mixes old and new with a classic wooden bar and jukebox alongside new TVs and beers on tap. Mulberry Street Bar also offers a full menu, and can boast that The Sopranos has been filmed there.

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