McSorley’s Old Ale House – A Quick Snapshot
McSoreley’s Old Ale House, generally known as McSorley’s, is the oldest “Irish” tavern located on East 7th Street in the East Village. it was one of the last of the “Men Only” pubs, only admitting women after legally being forced to do so in 1970.
The aged artwork, newspaper articles covering the walls, sawdust floors, and the Irish waiters and bartenders give McSorley’s an atmosphere that many consider, correctly or not, reminiscent of “Olde New York.” No piece of memorabilia has been removed from the walls since 1910, and there are many items of “historical” paraphernalia in the bar, such as Houdini’s handcuffs, which are connected to the bar rail.
Walk around and soak up the history of New York. From Joe Kennedy’s shoes, to the side door with the slot from Prohibition to the invitation to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s a museum unlike any other.
There are also wishbones hanging above the bar; supposedly they were hung there by boys going off to World War I, to be removed when they returned, so the wishbones that are left are from those that never returned.
Two of McSorley’s mottos are “Be Good or Be Gone”, and “We were here before you were born”. Prior to the 1970 ruling, the motto was “Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies”; the raw onions can still be had as part of McSorley’s cheese platter.
Women were not allowed in McSorley’s until August 10, 1970, It is said that the bar was forced to admit women, but it did so “kicking and screaming.” With the ruling allowing women to be served, the bathroom became unisex. Sixteen years later, a lady’s room was installed. The men’s room urinals are spectacular porcelain sarcophagi big enough to contain a body. The ladies’ room fixtures are decidedly less impressive.
Mugs of house-brand ale are served in pairs (like Twinkies)—one light, one dark (with your eyes closed, they taste identical).
If you order anything off the spartan menu, make it the cheese and onion plate: The big slice of raw onion and hunks of sharp cheddar will arm-wrestle your senses to a draw, overpowering even the bouquet of more than a hundred years of spilt ale soaked into everything.
Drop in sometime and see what other notable people (like you) have visited this landmark bar.
NEXT WEEK’S POST WILL BE AN UP-DATE ON THE EAST VILLAGE