Open since the mid-1850s, McSorley’s Old Ale House is the oldest Irish tavern in the city, and it feels like it with its sawdust floor, worn wood doors, and walls covered with yellowing newspaper clippings and artwork including a wanted poster for Lincoln’s assassin. Everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to John Lennon has been here at some point, and it still packs in a crowd. Drinking here doesn’t require much thought: there are just two types of ale, light and dark, that come in little half-pint mugs for $4.50.
A few doors down, the worship of beer continues at Burp Castle with its quirky medieval-style murals, piped Gregorian chant, and bartenders occasionally dressed as monks. There are 12 types of draft beer and 40 brands of potent bottled beer imported from Belgium, Germany, and Britain. Free French fries from the nearby Belgian Pommes Frites shop are passed out from 5.30pm until supplies run out. Heavenly.
At the Thirsty Scholar around the corner, there’s no evidence that the wild-haired effigy of Mark Twain, the piles of musty books, or the beady-eyed portrait of Samuel Beckett inspire intellectual debate. Most serious thought given by locals at this cozy, low-ceilinged pub is on what to drink.