Neighborhood Spotlight: The Iconic McSorley’s Old Ale House

The journey from the contemporary residences of EVGB to the well-worn wooden bar at McSorley’s Old Ale House is not just a short trip through the East Village — it’s a pilgrimage through the history of the city.

In NYC, where the unexpected is the norm, McSorley’s stands as a defiant throwback, a familiar reminder of what once was, in a city that never stops reinventing itself. It’s not just a bar; it’s a kind of sanctuary where the city’s gritty, unfiltered past meets the modern-day quest for genuine connection.

McSorley’s, established in 1854 by John McSorley, an immigrant from County Tyrone in Ireland, has played host to a wide-ranging congregation of clientele where the salt-of-the-earth working class, literary luminaries, and unabashed bohemian artists, alongside suited stockbrokers and polished politicians, have all found common ground.

Each has crossed its threshold, seeking the same things: solace and camaraderie over a pint or four, adhering to the long-standing tradition that two pints are ordered and served simultaneously. Offering only two choices of ale — light or dark — McSorley’s Old Ale House has been, and will always be, a nod to simplicity in the midst of the complexity of life.

Wooden tables, worn from decades of use, and the accompanying chairs that have cradled countless backsides (rumor has it that Abraham Lincoln may have settled in here), are placed upon floors freshly blanketed in sawdust, a clever measure against accidental ale overflow. In this place, steeped in history, lives the unvarnished soul of the city brimming with stories.

Every inch of wall space is occupied with memorabilia, offering a narrative richness that rivals even the most detailed chapters of E. B. White’s book, “Here Is New York.” From Houdini’s handcuffs to yellowed newspaper clippings to paintings and pictures, the decor is a gold mine, potentially occupying a historian more thoroughly than a bartender during the frenzy of St. Patrick’s Day. Resting above the fireplace, the McSorley motto, “Be Good or Be Gone,” is a reminder that the ale flows freely, but only if your manners do, too.

It may not come as a surprise that McSorley’s, a stronghold of old-school norms, didn’t welcome women until 1970, and even then, it lacked the necessary facilities — a ladies loo. Legal nudging was needed to transform the tavern from a men-only hideout to a welcoming space for all. With women stepping in, McSorley’s had to finally admit (begrudgingly) that it was time to install new restrooms, marking a modern shift in social norms, underscoring that progress, like a good ale, is best served shared.

The food menu, written on a pair of chalkboards, cuts right through the culinary fluff, offering a straightforward selection that smacks of authenticity. Here, it’s about bare essentials that hit the spot — think a no-nonsense cheese plate with cheddar, a column of crackers, and an aromatic heap of onions; or a liverwurst sandwich that doesn’t mince words; or chili that’s as unpretentious as it gets. What you see is what you get, and it’s all good. Don’t bother quizzing the bartender about the origins of your meal; the focus here is on solid, tasty fare that speaks for itself.

For the residents of the EVGB East Village luxury apartments, McSorley’s is a revered watering hole where a unique kinship flourishes, not from creed, but from a collective appreciation for the here and now, recognizing that within these walls, everyone is searching for connection amid the hustle of life.

To learn more, check on availability at these East Village rentals or contact us today.

Our leasing team is fully equipped and available to accommodate in-person and virtual tours.

To schedule an appointment please click here