Venerable East Village bar McSorley's Old Ale House turns 158 today! Or is it 150? A century and a half of beer sure can take its toll on the old memory, but certainly we can all agree the storied establishment is a NYC treasure. Eight years ago, Mayor Bloomberg officially declared today McSorley's Day, so let's all take a moment to disappear from work for an hour to knock back a celebratory pint. McSorley's, which is generally considered the oldest continuously-operating bar in NYC, was immortalized by New Yorker writer Joe Mitchell in his book McSorley's Wonderful Saloon. In the '40s, he found it to be:
A drowsy place; the bartenders never make a needless move, the customers nurse their mugs of ale, and the three clocks on the walls have not been in agreement for many years... The backbone of the clientele is a rapidly thinning group of crusty old men, predominantly Irish, who have been drinking there since they were youths and now have a proprietary feeling about the place. Some of them have tiny pensions, and are alone in the world; they sleep in Bowery hotels and spend practically all their waking hours in McSorley's.
After a legal battle, women are now allowed over the threshold, but watch out for that cat! Also watch out for nationalistic sing-a-longs of the Star Spangled Banner. We're a long way from Woddy Guthrie and e.e. cummings: