"Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies"

For 116 years, McSorley's Old Ale House was a "men only" bar.   First known as The Old House at Home, this legendary saloon is an establishment that dates back to pre-Civil War days.  Its unique atmosphere and history is a time capsule to another century.  Its food menu offers onion and Limburger cheese sandwiches with mustard, Shepherds Pie, hamburgers, chicken wings, hot dogs, and, naturally, both dark and light ale served in big mugs.  Women were eventually allowed to drink and eat here after the National Organization for Women won a lawsuit against McSorley's discriminatory policy in 1970.  Still it took 17 years for the establishment to install a women's bathroom.  

Founded by a Quaker Irishman, John McSorley, the bar was modeled after public houses in Ireland and is the oldest Irish pub in New York City.  McSorley’s first patrons were mostly working class Irishmen, policemen, firemen, and neighborhood men and a couple of cats were residents there.  “Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies” was its motto.  The bar’s name was officially changed to McSorley’ Ole Ale House in 1908 after its original sign blew down.  During Prohibition, it escaped being shut down due to its great popularity with city policemen and politicians.  

American artist, John Sloan, introduced the bar to many New Yorkers with a series of paintings done from 1912 to 1930.  A 1940 Life magazine photo story about the bar and essays published in the New Yorker by Joseph Mitchell (later the book, McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon) brought McSorley's national fame.  The poet, ee Cummings, wrote a poem, i was sitting in mcsorley's, about it (see below).   It was memorialized in the book, Two and Two:  McSorley's, My Dad and Me, by Rafe Bartholome whose father was a longtime bartender here

McSorley's is one of the oldest bars in New York CityOver its long history, visitors have included many celebrities, artists, and even presidents (including Abe Lincoln).  Folk singer/composer Woody Guthrie was a regular.  McSorley’s golden rule was:  “Be Good or Be Gone.”  As long as John McSorley and his son ran the bar, the tradition was that the last round of the evening was always on the house.  The ashes of seven regular patrons, including industrialist Peter Cooper, can be found in different vessels behind the bar.  

Some say the sawdust on the floor, the old photos, cartoons, newspaper and magazine clippings hanging on the walls are much more memorable than the beer served there.  The bar is located in the East Village on E. 7th Street between First and Second Avenues. 

"i was sitting in mcsorley's"

i was sitting in mcsorley’s. outside it was New York and beautifully snowing.

Inside snug and evil. the slobbering walls filthily push witless creases of screaming warmth chuck pillows are noise funnily swallows swallowing revolvingly pompous a the swallowed mottle with smooth or a but of rapidly goes gobs the and of flecks of and a chatter sobbings intersect with which distinct disks of graceful oath, upsoarings the break on ceiling-flatness

the Bar.tinking luscious jigs dint of ripe silver with warm-lyish wetflat splurging smells waltz the glush of squirting taps plus slush of foam knocked off and a faint piddle-of-drops she says I ploc spittle what the lands thaz me kid in no sir hopping sawdust you kiddo

he’s a palping wreaths of badly Yep cigars who jim him why gluey grins topple together eyes pout gestures stickily point made glints squinting who’s a wink bum-nothing and money fuzzily mouths take big wobbly foot

steps every goggle cent of it get out ears dribbles soft right old feller belch the chap hic summore eh chuckles skulch. . . .

and I was sitting in the din thinking drinking the ale, which never lets you grow old blinking at the low ceiling my being pleasantly was punctuated by the always retchings of a worthless lamp.

when With a minute terrif iceffort one dirty squeal of soiling light yanKing from bushy obscurity a bald greenish foetal head established It suddenly upon the huge neck around whose unwashed sonorous muscle the filth of a collar hung gently.

spattered)by this instant of semiluminous nausea A vast wordless nondescript genie of trunk trickled firmly in to one exactly-mutilated ghost of a chair,

a;domeshaped interval of complete plasticity,shoulders, sprouted the extraordinary arms through an angle of ridiculous velocity commenting upon an unclean table.and, whose distended immense Both paws slowly loved a dinted mug

gone Darkness it was so near to me,i ask of shadow won’t you have a drink?

(the eternal perpetual question)

inside snugandevil. i was sitting in mcsorley’s It,did not answer.

outside.(it was New York and beautifully, snowing. . . .

Famous and notorious bars have been a part of the Village's landscape throughout its history.  One bar, the Cedar Tavern (now gone), was a hangout for avant-garde artists and writers in the 1950s.  Over the years, the bar had three locations:  Cedar Street in downtown Manhattan, 55 W. 8th Street, and finally 82 University Place.  Beatniks, artists such as Jackson Pollock, Rothko and Willem de Kooning, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank O'Hara, and Bob Dylan were regular patrons.  The bar is the setting for Bluebird, a novel by Kurt Vonnegut.