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NYC’s Oldest Bars: 6 Best Destinations for the Locals and the Tourists!

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Have you ever wondered if some of New York City’s oldest bars are still around?

We all know about the iconic NYC bar scene. But have you ever thought to visit some of the oldest bars the metropolis has to offer?

New York City is iconic, and there are many places to see if you are ever going there to visit. However, a lot of people discount the unique charm and appeal of the bars in this city, especially when it comes to the oldest ones out there.

These bars can be characterized as being romantic; some have rooftop spots with breathtaking views of the city, and you can take your pick when it comes to the type of bar you can visit after a long day of going around town.

From beer halls to cocktail destinations, from amazing dives to even low- and no-ABV drinks, you will be able to find something that will make the experience worth it in any of the five boroughs.

And while there have been a lot of new bars popping up in NYC, there is something special about the town’s oldest bars that none of the new ones can beat.

While it may not be on your travel plan list, you should definitely make sure to check out some of NYC’s oldest bars and get a chance to see a part of history, bask in their legit pre-20th century magnificence, and enjoy a good drink!

Believe us, you will not regret visiting them! Keep on reading to discover the best and oldest bars in NYC!

nycs oldest bars
Image By Brian Logan Photography From Shutterstock

White Horse Tavern (1880)

Originally opening its doors in 1880 in West Village, White Horse Tavern is a mainstay of the area.

Not only that, but its claim to fame is its title as one of the city’s most popular watering holes for the city’s cultural and literary icons.

The likes of Jack Kerouac, Jane Jacobs, and James Baldwin, just to name a few, are some of the notable names that have been known to come to this tavern for a drink and something to eat.

While it is one of the oldest bars in NYC, the food is not something out of the world, but the vibes in this place are immaculate.

They have excellent cocktails that you can enjoy in their whimsical and lush outdoor decor, which the owners make a point to change to match the season.

It’s a great place, full of history, that can help people watch the energy and action in West Village.

Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn (1859)

If you are looking to see a true Bavarian-inspired bar, then look no further than Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn.

Back in the day, a higher number of German immigrants started to arrive in New York, and they brought with them the culture associated with beer halls, especially the German-style ones.

While we are all familiar with Irish pubs, the Bavarian ones are quite different, yet they are still just as fun but with a different cultural twist.

A lot of the bars that were once opened in this German tradition have closed, but one of the very few that stood the test of time is Killmeyer’s, still open today after its inauguration back in 1859.
Located on Staten Island, this is one of the oldest bars in NYC, and it stays true to its roots.

Not only is their beer list unique and authentic to the Bavarian style, but their food is also true to their roots. Here you can find the likes of spaetzle, pierogis, and a myriad of sausages and wurst!

If you are a foodie and curious about this type of food, you should not miss out on Killmeyer’s!

nycs oldest bars
Image By Little Vignettes Photo From Shutterstock

McSorley’s Old Ale House (1854)

Having been open for well over 150 years, McSorley’s Old Ale House is another spot that has a claim to fame due to the esteemed patrons that have crossed their doors. The likes of Boss Tweed to Abraham Lincoln have been here to enjoy their beer, which they only have in two kinds: light and dark!

Much like the other ones on this list, McSorley’s also has a history with Prohibition, since the bar took its operations underground and continued to operate for about 13 years.

Yet, this is not where the contriversion with this old bar stops. The bar only opened its doors to female patrons in 1970, but only due to a lawsuit that was brought about in conjunction with the women’s rights movements!

This place is a place where history has been made, and it still stands the test of time!

Pete’s Tavern (1864)

Pete’s Tavern is in a league of its own, despite being in one of the town’s history-rich neighborhoods. The bar was opened in 1864 in Gramercy Park.

The date is notable since back then the country was deep in the civil war, and the story has it that Pete’s Tavern used to be disguised as a flower shop when Prohibition hit the city of New York. It is part of the charm of a lot of these older bars that they have managed to stay afloat even during the prohibition.

Back in the 1950s, the tavern became one of the first pubs in the city that started to offer dining “al fresco.” A move that was motivated by the European influences that continue to show even on the tavern’s food menu!

It is a great spot to stop by and eat, as well as enjoy a drink!

nycs oldest bars
Image By Dariusz Gryczka From Shutterstock

Fraunces Tavern (1762)

The oldest bar still standing in New York City is Fraunces Tavern! This bar opened its doors back in 1762, and it is the last connection we have to those times when drinking culture was beyond different!

Fraunces Tavern is the only 18th-century remaining and operating bar in the city, and it was once George Washington’s favorite watering hole!

The bar still maintains a lot of its original charm, with the inside upkeeping special spaces with elements that honor its over 250-year-old rich history!

The building has been restored, so it is definitely safe to visit, and you do not want to miss out on the amazing rooms you can find inside that are homages to different periods in its history.

The most notable ones are the Dingle Whiskey Room, the Piano Bar Upstairs, and the Tallmadge Room, which is based on craft beer!

A true part of American history that you can easily visit next time you’re in NYC!

Neir’s Tavern (1829)

This tavern has a very interesting self-appointed title, the “most famous bar that you’ve never heard of,”  and we find it pretty funny.

Dating back to the early 19th century—1829,  to be more exact—this bar is located in Queens’ Woodhaven neighborhood.

The location is modest, in a humble row house, but ever since it’s opening, it has become a quirky local legend that locals absolutely love.

Neir’s definitely not overlooked, since it has a couple of claims to fame, including the fact that a young Mae West used to dance there when she was a child and that Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas has a couple of bar scenes filmed here, the bar later hosting the cast and crew.

If you want to read more about the rich history of New York, we recommend you give this book on its history a read, as it is fascinating and a great way to prepare for your trip to the Big Apple!

If our article has left you wanting to read more about what other amazing and historical places you could visit here at home, then we recommend that you check out our section, The Best of America! There, you will find way more similar articles that are bound to help you find your next U.S. travel destination!

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