McSorley's Old Ale House


78 Reviews
McSorley's Old Ale HouseMcSorley's Old Ale House

Type: Bar, Eatery

15 E 7th St
New York, New York, 10003-8001
United States

(212) 473-9148 | map

No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate

View: Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 78 | Ratings: 103
Photo of Kubishark
4.58/5  rDev +28.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4

If you've ever read Joseph Mitchell's classic New Yorker piece about this place, or even if you haven't, it's worth the visit. This is the kind of place I love, simple and old. You walk out of the street in one of the most ridiculous, wealthy cities in the world and enter a time machine back to the 1800s. The ales are simple and standard, the service is outstanding, and the selection of light and dark ale is good enough for me.

 431 characters

Photo of oldn00b
3.5/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 3.25 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3

This is a place to go to check off your bucket list. For the beer snob, you might thumb your nose at "light or dark" being the only option but if so you shouldn't be here. It's an experience. Mugs served 2 at a time in a dirty old hole in the wall Irish pub. It's an awesome experience, but not a place I'd go frequently.

 325 characters

Photo of KornWallace
4.74/5  rDev +32.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 3

This place is simply an institution. Light or Dark are your only beer options and they are both fantastic. You don't come here for the food, just the beer and the atmosphere, both of which are top notch. This place is traditional down to the saw dust on the floor a must go to for anyone who enjoys a bar with an old style.

 323 characters

Photo of nycsportster
2.93/5  rDev -17.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3 | selection: 2 | food: 2

Pick light or dark! One of the oldest bars in NYC, McSorley's is famous for its men only policy up to 1970. Saw dust floor and relics everywhere, it's a time capsule of a by gone era. The beer comes by the fist fulls, and goes down quick. Get used to making new friends, as no chairs go unused. Unless you are a fan of cheese and onions, grab a slice before hand.

 363 characters

Photo of rev_jimmy
4.48/5  rDev +25.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I work a few blocks north of McSorely's. I am a traditionalist and McSorely's is the real deal. It has been around for 150+ years. The stuff on the walls isn't kitschy, it is really old. Pepe, the bartender, has been there for decades and is great at initiating first timers.

McSorely's serves two beers, their light and their dark. I only get the dark. Someday, I'll try the other one. For $5.50 two pints. In NYC, that's a steal. Being kind, the food is pedestrian at best. Do not expect a great menu. However, it is passable and it is cheap.

As for the beer, it is very drinkable. Have two and you will want two more.

 623 characters

Photo of morebeergood
3.37/5  rDev -5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.5

Third stop on a recent NYC pub crawl. First time visiting here, so we went out of way to swing by. It's worth it, this place is cool. Talk about a place with tons to look at! Doesn't look like it changed since 1860. It just reeks old NYC, and I loved it. Sawdust on the ground. Two choices of beer: light & dark. Two mugs of beer per order. Waiters wear uniforms. Just crazy that a place like this survives. For lovers of nostalgia, you have to visit here for a beer.

 467 characters

Photo of brewsclues
4.36/5  rDev +22.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 3.25 | food: 3

"Good Ale. Raw Onions. [No] Ladies."

People who have visited McSorley's: Abe "Lincoln Logs" Lincoln. Teddy "Don't Call Me Teddy" Roosevelt. Boss Tweed. Peter Cooper. Winston Churchill. e.e. Cummings. Me.

McSorley's: grimy, dirty, historical, raw, hug-you-bar-neighbor, sing-songs-with-strangers, play flip cup with servers, be good or be gone, raw onions, buy beers in multiples of two, sawdust since the eighteen-seventies, wishbones for doughboys that never came home, graffiti from the great depression, and two solid sessionable ales. Come for the experience, stay for the experience.

 591 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.6/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 1.5

A landmark above all landmarks. No, this is not a spot for beer. Technically, it shouldn't be in the BA database. But there is no place that carries as much history as this one. Keep an eye out for Houdini's handcuffs at the base of the bar. And if you haven't been back to McSorley's in some time, the wishbones had to be dusted off per the health department. So, there will be no dust bunnies clinging to them, and a few less as they crumbled upon cleaning. This place is history for the eyes.

Oh yeah. Burp Castle is just down the street.

 542 characters

Photo of aeibrean
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 2 | food: 3.5

First of all I have to preface this review by saying I am bias toward this place. I have been going here since I was in nappies/diaper. My grandfather brought me here before my first birthday. I have been a regular ever since. Mind you they did not serve me for 18 years.
This is the original beer bar/brew-pub. They only serve their own brew. They are the oldest continuously serving bar in North America.
The ales are first rate. It is very difficult to find a superiour Irish ale, dark or light. It is however the atmosphere that draws me in. You enter alone & never leave without making a friend. You stand @ the bar or sit @ a table & chat. That is what this place is for & has been for 160 years.Since 1860 every Gouvernor of N.Y., Mayor of New York, & President of The United States has been through these doors. Popes & Kings as well. Winston Churchill (sic) & Brendan Behan (sic) both drank here. Not @ the same time.

 927 characters

Photo of Neorebel
3.14/5  rDev -12%
vibe: 5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 2

In my opinion, McSorley's is a must see if you have some time to kill with a group of friends hanging out near the lower east side. I was going to a concert at Webster Hall in the evening and took a detour here. The atmosphere is awesome - The oldest saloon in New York! There's tons of authentic old memorabilia adorning the wall, as well as pictures, articles, badges, etc. You really have to see it. The place has a lot of historical significance. The old wooden tables are scratched to hell and there is sawdust all over the floor. Not TVs or music to distract you from your present company, just loud conversation going on everywhere and bustling staff. Don't try to engage the bartenders much - the place is always super busy and I'm sure it's hectic to keep the beer flowing. The beers are very cheap - choose from either 'light' or 'dark,' and you receive 2 small mugs for $5. They are unpretentious and straight forward beers, but definitely a huge step up from PBR or Coors Light, etc. It's a great 'man's type of place' for a reunion with old friends and other such occasions.

 1,087 characters

Photo of Rassilon
1.54/5  rDev -56.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 1.5 | service: 1 | selection: 1

McSorley's? They should change their name to McSurly's to accurately represent their staff.

The staff of jerks will take advantage of you and treat you like crap. The 2 choices of beer are okay at best. Be sure that you follow the tradition of the place: when you order a beer, you get two smaller glasses full of the beer that you ordered. Do not ask for one of each. That will piss off the surly staff even more. Maybe treating customers like crap is their gimmick.

Worth visiting once for its history as it is the oldest bar in Manhattan.

 544 characters

Photo of jjboesen
3.44/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 1

No trip to the East Village, much less New York City, can be considered authentic without stopping at this venerable saloon for a few frothy mugs of McSorley’s Ale. Beer geeks, you need not ask for the beer menu since the only beer served is light or dark. Yes, the era of craft beers, much like that of electronic devices, television, credit cards and air conditioning, has no place here in this 19th Century time capsule. In fact, women were barred entry until a 1970 Supreme Court decision. Despite this minor adaptation to the present, McSorley’s refuses to change and remains a living (and drinking) history lesson that offers one a unique and personal experience of the bygone days.

Walking through the doors and across the saw dusted floor, you are tracing in the same steps as Babe Ruth, Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Houdini, whose handcuffs are still connected to the bar rail;. In fact, it is said that even tee totaling Abraham Lincoln paid a visit following his 1860 “House Divided” speech at nearby Cooper Union Hall – his chair is secured behind the bar. From the weathered chandelier hang wishbones, placed there for “Good Luck” by World War I doughboys, to be reclaimed upon returning from war. Many of these soldiers did not and their wishbones still hang. (Incidentally, anybody who removes a wishbone is banned from McSorley’s.) The ancient walls are covered in yellowed newspaper articles and an unknown amount of memorabilia, much of it honoring the NYPD, which has been in place since 1910.

So, come by on a quiet weekday afternoon, stand at the bar, knock down a few mugs, order up some hash, and take a good, long look around. Just remember; “Be Good or Be Gone.”

 1,707 characters

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.83/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3

So I decided to go ahead and visit the (in)famous McSorley's. About time! Didn't know it was right behind the cool Morphosis-designed Cooper Union building. What a contrast, the future and the past...

The door looks shut from the outside, like a speakeasy (very East Village). Inside, no music, the smell of sawdust, worn-out wood and old memorabilia. I dig it.

Lively but not totally busy on a Monday at around 3:00 pm, with a mixture of tourists and businessmen. Apparently it was a slow day, the friendly barkeep said, but it was busier than most bars are on any given Monday.

Super nice guy, the bartender, as old as McSorley's itself. We chatted and laughed about my sugar mama ("everybody should have one!"), the one that makes it possible for me to be at McSorley's on a Monday.

Beer? Well. You know the drill. There is dark and there is light, and you get two. Not exactly great but good enough, goes down easy and tastes decent. Felt like a cheap nut brown ale to me, or a Smithwicks.

Price is reasonable ($5 bucks for two small mugs) and food looks like you only want to eat it if you're drunk. :-) I didn't try it.

Should this be on BA? Probably not. But it holds tremendous historic value, and it sure is worth at least one visit. I will certainly go back, hopefully with the sugar mama, on a quiet day just to enjoy the priceless atmosphere.

 1,366 characters

Photo of henkster
2.63/5  rDev -26.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 1.5 | food: 3

I went on a recent weekday night for my first visit in a while, but I have been many, many times over the years. When I'm in the right mood, and when the place isn't packed to the hilt (which is frequently on weekend nights), this is a great pub. However, it is by no means a 'beer bar' that should be a BA destination. I'm shocked by the number of reviewers giving it 4s or 5s on selection or quality. There are 2 beers - light and dark - and they're not that good, in my opinion. However, the old atmosphere is great, and I love the old-school, gruff waiters. The saltines and cheese plate, with some horseradish mustard, goes great with a few mugs of beer too. Please don't get me wrong - I highly enjoy this place, just not as a destination for craft beer (or even decent tasting beer).

 790 characters

Photo of tobelerone
2.79/5  rDev -21.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 2

An institution, obviously. But I don't really enjoy going to McSorley's much. Usually packed, often with a mix of tourists and long-time regulars. Loud. Two rooms that flow into each other, looks nice in the old-timey dark oak bar kind of way. The two beers (light and dark only) while pretty cheap are also pretty mediocre. Not gonna excite a craft fan much. If you're visiting NY and want to check a historic tavern where famous writers and artists hung out blah blah blah then stop in. Certainly not a "beer destination" for a BA.

 533 characters

Photo of masterg2
4.53/5  rDev +26.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I have been going to McSorley's for years now. A bunch of us go down on the day before Thanksgiving and spend the day. Nothing better than walking in at 10:30 and stumbling out at 4 to catch the train home! I love the beer. Drinking half the dark and mixing in some light beer makes a great Black and Tan. Food is great. We typically order up some saltines, crackers and cheese for starters then finish it off with a great Thanksgiving dinner. Come stop by and grab a chair at our table! We are always sitting next to the wood stove!

 533 characters

Photo of huxcrunner
4.15/5  rDev +16.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3

I went to this place for the first time last night people had told me at how great this place was but you truly don't understand how awesome it is until you experience it in person, it has such a rich history and you could hear a different story every night for the next ten years. As for the beer you can get all of two kinds, light and dark both are great but it limits variety if that what your looking for. The price you can't beat. You get two great beers for$ 5 talk about a steal expecially in nyc. Overall I love this place anybody who wants to here some good stories meet good people and drink awesome beer this is the place for you

 641 characters

Photo of JordoBeerlady
4.72/5  rDev +32.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Words cannot express how much I love this place. Simple. Nostalgic. Full of history. It's a place where women don't have to feel the need to dress up & act cute & vacant. One of the best memories in my young adult life took place here. If you love beer, simplicity, good conversation, and laughter, then you must go here. I know that NYC is full of off-the-chart cool microbreweries with bells and whistles and taps and bottles and s***. But this place understands what beer is about. Water, hops, malt, & yeast. People. Understatement. I feel like this whole "beer movement" is getting away from that, and it makes me sad. Beer=Good.

 634 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

McSorley's is what it is... An historic site, a tourist trap, a good place to return to what it was like to drink beers in college. You're not here for the cultural experience. Your beer choice is light or dark, and that's it. I actually enjoyed the dark; not loved, but enjoyed. The light beer sucked. You go here with a group to enjoy the time warp feel. You need to get there early and get a table. It's pretty cool if you're with the right group, having a few laughs, when your bartender comes with his hands loaded with 10 little mugs he clanks onto the table. Without 3-4 friends and a table, I'd go somewhere else.

 621 characters

Photo of gskitt
3.5/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Firstly, one does not make the pilgrimage to McSorleys to sample the beer. One visits McSorleys to have fun with friends and walk a little less straight when leaving assuming one can walk. There have been times I have doubted my own bipedal abilities when leaving McSorleys. The crowd is diverese, the waiters are Irish, there is sawdust on the floor and Kennedy on the wall. The best part for me is the saltines, onion, and Irish cheese at the end of the night. The beer, light or dark, somehow tastes much better in the bar than outside of it. When march rolls around, I always think about another visit. Great place, worth the crowds for at least one visit. Thumbs up for old New York!

 688 characters

Photo of unclejimbay
3.13/5  rDev -12.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3

This is a legendary dive worth a stop if you are in the East Village area. It was quite a diverse crowd with an atmosphere with even more character. Dubbed as "the oldest bar in NYC" and you can tell given by the legendary layers of dust on the archaic chandeliers, decorations and interior.

The beer is nothing special, but is decent to sip on and share a round with some new friends from the diverse crowd. We went and chatted with some Brits at the bar who were friendly and shared a round or 2 to get a feel of the place. Once was enough, but worth a see if you are in the area and appreciatte character from yesteryear...

 627 characters

Photo of nickmoerr
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

I love this place! I went here for the first time a month ago. It is a hole in the wall place. Limited menu with cheap items. Great Value! Beer is served in two six oz glasses and they only serve McSorleys Light and McSorleys Dark. People share tables in this establishment, but strangers will treat you like family. Sawdust on the ground and people sign the tables with carvings. Waiters are Irish. Best place to grab lunch in this part of the City. GREAT VALUE! I had the corn beef and cabbage. It had some kind of gravy on it that was delicious.

 548 characters

Photo of HUXC
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 3.5

The atmosphere blew me away. A little difficult to find being tucked away off the beaten track, but having been established in 1854 this place is incredible. The walls are literally covered with New York history. If you're looking for variety this probably isn't the place for you. They serve only light or dark McSorley's on tap, small menu with terrific Irish food. Cash only business. Very traditional old school bar. If you plan on visiting I urge you to visit their website and read up on the history of the bar, it's just spectacular.

 540 characters

Photo of DarkBrews
3.3/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 2 | food: 4

This place is a must stop for any beer fan visiting NY (if you can get in). The atmosphere here is not to be beat, 19th century taps and bathrooms, working potbellied stove in the bar and political memorabilia such as buttons etc. since its been open.

The only complaints in here can be getting in and getting service at busy times. Some may see the selection as a down side as well but I think both are good are quality beers. However this isn't the kind of place you enter to peruse the menu and study the tap. It's more like going to a laid back party at a friends:
What do you want to drink: Light(B) or Dark(A-)
What do you want to eat: sandwichs, simple burgers or cheese/cracker/onion plate

The tightly packed tables ensure that you make friends quickly as well. All in all I've been here a half dozen times and am heading back in 2 days and would recommend checking it out.

 886 characters

Photo of ThreeDimesDown
3.79/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3

If you want to be transported to the times of "pre-Disneyfied" New York, this is a must stop. Basically you have two choices, light or dark beer, either way you can't go wrong.

The walls are covered in pictures of "older times", sawdust covers the floor, and limited table and chairs (especially on weekend) will probably have you ponying up with people you don't know. The service is very solid, not missing a beat even when it's standing room only.

Upon entering you'll get the feeling of young hipsters and old yuppies but before you leave, you will realize everyone is there to conjure up the feelings of the old New York as McSorley's was.

 647 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
McSorley's Old Ale House in New York, NY
3.57 out of 5 based on 103 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.