(CNN) – In a city where new bars and restaurants are always open, old and revered favorites take on a different meaning.
Given the rate at which some of the most expensive places of local people close – high rents, changes of ownership and bureaucracy problems in the city – it is particularly important to evaluate the long-standing places that have managed to stay afloat and resist changes in a constantly changing city.
Below, our list (in no particular order) of the oldest and most iconic bars in New York City. These are the dimly lit corners, the shiny work surfaces and the cavernous corners where we find ourselves returning again and again.
Old town bar
The Old Town bar has always been an unpretentious paradise for artists and creatives from all over the world.
Mark Lennihan / AP
Old Town Bar, opened in 1892, has been a popular gathering place for both residents and visitors. Originally a German drinking trough, the building is nestled between Union Square and Gramercy Park, containing many of its original interior features, including the striking mahogany bar behind it, a beautiful beveled mirror and soaring “tin” ceilings ( actually pressed steel).
The charm of this institution is its patina: it is worn out and extravagant. The squeaky staircase leading to the dining room on the second floor is inclined, the alignment of antique-style urinals in the men’s room dates back to 1910 and the presence of a silent workers contributes to the living history of the place.
The old town was used as a location for filming, for television (Letterman from the 80s), films (“The last days of the disco”) and music videos (“Jump Around” by the House of Pain).
It has long been an unpretentious paradise for artists and creatives around the world. There is a strong literary tradition, with regulars such as poet Seamus Heaney and “Angela’s Ashes” author Frank McCourt, and more autographed and framed book jackets and other historical events hanging on the walls.
Gerard Meagher, owner and resident historian of the Old City, says that the bar “thrived” during Prohibition, but that its most enduring attribute is the sense of belonging and the camaraderie of its customers. “Everyone feels comfortable here. And it’s truly unique in New York these days.” —Brekke Fletcher
The Campbell Bar enjoys the unique distinction of being inside the Grand Central Terminal.
Courtesy of the Gerber group
Grand Central commuters may have it better than any other commuter in town. Instead of fighting the masses at Penn Station (is the surrounding area never under construction?), They have access to one of the oldest and most beautiful bars in the city right there inside the terminal.
The central vein of transport offers much more than just access to transit. Attachment A: The Campbell Bar, formerly known as The Campbell Apartment. One of the oldest bars in New York City, it is also one of the most stunning.
Before numerous indications on Vanderbilt, a narrow street that blinks parallel to Madison and Park Avenue, indicated the hidden location of The Campbell inside the terminal, it was appreciated for being, among other things, a little difficult to find.
This made it a great place for the first date, but it also made it a relaxing break from the chaotic center just outside of midtown Manhattan.
Even now, this is a Midtown bar so downtown devotees go out of their way.
Stroll for a cocktail or appetizer (or, as in the case of a recent lively February afternoon, a mocktail currently in trend) before jumping off a train out of the city or returning to Brooklyn.
The signature Manhattan is the best thing on the menu. Better ordered by Paris Durante, who spent 20 years behind this bar, the taste of the classic drink owes much to mixing, according to Durante.
“The key to creating a big Manhattan is mixing it enough, but not too thoroughly. Most of the time they don’t mix it enough in crowded bars.”
Durante knows his things: when you take that first sip of the powerful mix of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, sweet vermouth (here Carpano Antica) and a pinch of Angostura bitters, served on or on an oversized ice cube with Luxardo cherries, you will be happy that you have found your way inside. —Stacey Lastoe
The Bohemian Hall beer garden
The Bohemian Hall beer garden really comes alive in the summer when the outdoor garden invites customers to stay a while.
From Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
Grab a picnic table in this huge and rowdy Astoria beer garden and you’ll see why Queens are recognized as one of the most diverse counties in the country.
Many of the area’s Greek, Italian and Hispanic populations flock to the beer garden, and it’s also a place for all ages – you’re just as likely to see families as you are 20 years old.
The reception of the children, however, comes with a warning: the rowdy children have led to the implementation by the bar of a “no madman” rule, which provides that the children are always within walking distance of a parent in every moment and left after 9:00 PM.
The Hall and Garden (the garden is open all year round for people who don’t mind moderate temperatures) were originally built as a gathering place for Czech and Slovak immigrants in the area, and this helps explain the influence of Eastern European menu (although burgers and nachos can also be had).
In 1892, residents formed the Benevolent Society of the Bohemian Citizen, and in 1910 raised funds to purchase part of an old agricultural plot. They built the hall and eventually the garden and both opened to the public. It survived the ban and today the building and garden are still owned, managed and used by The Society for the conservation of their culture.
The word “Bohemian” comes from a region of the Czech Republic known in the Middle Ages as the Kingdom of Bohemia, but in Astoria, Queens today, this word can best be used to describe the masses of hipsters who adore the beer garden. open. —Channon Hodge
Julius’ real stars are the people behind and in front of the bar. Daniel Onzo, who has worked as a bartender in and out for over 20 years and has been a regular for more time, is as much a part of Giulio’s present as his past.
This corner pub has a historical past and a legacy of inclusion and community.
Operating in Greenwich Village on the corner of West 10th and Waverly for over a century and a half, Julius’s has had many iterations, albeit always a bar.
It started in the mid-nineteenth century and, like most bars opened during Prohibition, it became a talkeasy. It turned into a sports bar in the 1940s, becoming a gay bar in the 1950s and 1960s. And the Julius logo has been around since the 1930s.
Modeled after the sit-ins of the black civil rights movement, this group of gay men traveled from bar to bar demanding to be served. The group wisely enlisted the press to follow as they protested the state liquor authority practice that prevented homosexuals from serving alcohol.
Julius’s bar looks like a common West Village neighborhood, but this gay bar is the setting for half a dozen Hollywood movie scenes.
Today Julius is a home away from home for anyone who shows up. The interior is simple, a long bar with tables in the front and rear: the front tables feature ancient Ruppert wooden beer barrels, a former brewery that operated at the beginning of the 20th century.
The bar is a celebrity in its own right, serving as the location for films like “Can You Ever Forgdon Me?” about Julius’ ex regular Lee Israel, and Netflix’s original and upcoming remake, “The Boys in the Band”. And actress Julianne Moore saw Super Bowl LIV there.
But Julius’ real stars are the people behind and in front of the bar. Daniel Onzo, who has worked as a bartender in and out for over 20 years and has been a regular for more time, is as much a part of Giulio’s present as his past.
“I want to fall dead right there. I want to be part of it until the last day. That’s how I feel.” He talks poetically of days gone by, of cheaters, bar fights and friends lost due to AIDS, many of whose portraits hang on the walls. “The people who came here because this was their home.” -BF
Neir’s Tavern, in Woodhaven in Queens, is about an hour by subway from Midtown Manhattan, which could be one of the reasons why it is not as recognizable as the others on this list.
Courtesy of Neir’s Tavern
It is a paradox that one of the oldest bars in the city (190 years of age!) Is one of the least known, despite its colorful history and a faithful local following.
Neir’s Tavern, in the Woodhaven neighborhood of Queens, is about an hour by subway from Midtown Manhattan, which could be one of the reasons why it is not as recognizable as the others on this list.
As Neir (and New York City firefighter lieutenant) said Loycent Gorden to Anthony Bourdain in a 2017 “Parts Unknown” episode focused on Queens, “It’s the most famous place you’ve never heard of” .
In this 2017 Parts Unknown clip, Tony visits one of the Queen’s oldest and most iconic bars and talks about Queens life with the new owner Lt. Loycent Gordon.
Inaugurated in 1829 as a tavern to satisfy customers of the nearby Union Course Race Track, the Neir family became owners around the turn of the 20th century, calling it Neir’s Social Hall. Among its various offerings at the time were a ballroom, hotel rooms and a bowling alley.
Neir’s fame goes beyond his longevity. The bar’s website claims that a young Mae West may have performed there. It was a prominent location in Martin Scorcese’s highly praised 1990 film, “Goodfellas”.
Firefighter Loycent Gorden took over in 2009, overseeing a careful restoration, but in early 2020, he almost had to close the bar after an occupancy certificate resulted in unsustainable rent increases (actually fivefold).
Thanks to an outburst of community support and the subsequent intervention of various members of the city government, Neir’s has been saved from closure and the New York institution will continue to live. -BF
McSorley’s Old Ale House
The East Village bar has only two options on tap: light or dark beer.
Mario Tama / Getty Images
“Light or dark?” This is the question that will be asked when you approach the bartender at this 166-year-old establishment in Manhattan’s East Village.
Many customers choose one of the house beers and, apart from a handful of soft drinks ranging from a can of Coca Cola to a can of Sprite, these are, really and truly, the only options, and there is only one way beer is served: in two eight and a half ounce glass beer mugs.
There’s a nice half-inch of head in half-full pints and, for $ 6, you can get it all for less than the average price of a beer in New York City these days.
It should come as no surprise, given the limited menu options (cheese plate options include cheddar or American), that McSorley’s is cash only. Not much has changed inside since the brewery opened its doors in 1864, although the owners installed a women’s bathroom 24 years ago, 15+ years after women were admitted to McSorley.
The bartender on duty on a recent Wednesday evening estimates that the bar crosses 60-70 barrels of beer every week.
“We are never slow,” she said, nodding towards the front and rear rooms, but not too crowded.
Every evening, it’s a mix of regulars who swell to the bar – and they’re literally swell to the bar without stools – and pretending the signature twice produces the informal din of the conversation. There is a lot for beginners to take, with memorabilia dominating almost every square inch of space.
At McSorley’s, the sawdust under your feet, a staple food of the tavern, looks fresher than anything else in the room. -SL
Registered landmark in New York City, Dante remembers past times, with his subway tiles, painted tin ceilings and his location on Macdougal Street, in the heart of Greenwich Village.
A registered landmark in New York City, the current bar (and restaurant) recalls past times, with its subway tiles, painted tin ceilings and its location on Macdougal Street, in the heart of Greenwich Village.
Throughout his tenure, Dante has attracted luminaries and artists from all walks of life, Lost Generation (Hemingway), Beats (Bob Dylan) and now the crowd of appetizers.
Given that Dante is so hot right now, getting one of his few places at the bar isn’t always easy. But it has been waiting for you for over a century: you can wait an hour. -BF
White horse tavern
In a corner of Greenwich Village is the White Horse Tavern, once an artist’s paradise and now a reference site.
Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
Neither a luxury cocktail bar nor a direct dive, the White Horse Tavern fits somewhere in the middle of the diverse spectrum of bar types.
It is old, of course, and on our list because first of all it meets these criteria, but it is also a nice chameleon. During a lively winter week, it is cozy but relaxed, with a game on the large TV hanging in the left corner of the bar.
There are no bouncers or a huge crowd of people to fight with to order a drink from the accessible but nonsense bartender.
But stop late at night on Friday or Saturday and the atmosphere is definitely different. It is a place to celebrate, not to think about which of the gins you want with your tonic. Stay with a draft beer for around $ 7 if you’re looking to look at your wallet and know that if you order a brand of high-end spirits, you’ll pay for it.
Regardless of which white horse you get, you’re sure to have a strong drink and a side to the story. It has the title of “second oldest continuously operated tavern in New York City”, having opened in 1880.
Welsh native Dylan Thomas was a regular, the Beats and Jack Kerouac frequented the bar – now a famous site in a corner in Greenwich Village – during its heyday.
Floor-to-ceiling windows make White Horse excellent for people watching, but we recommend that you admire the space’s original tin ceiling and also the beautifully maintained wooden works. They don’t make them like that anymore, they say melancholy New Yorkers everywhere. -SL
There is a quintessence of New York elegance in the Bemelmans Bar, located inside the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Courtesy of the Bemelmans Bar
Inside the Tony Carlyle Hotel, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, are the extravagant and elegant Bemelmans.
Since its opening in 1947, the bar has hosted dozens of the greatest jazz pianists, playing contemporary standards and pieces while customers sip expensive cocktails.
The room is adorned with murals by the famous author and illustrator of children’s books Ludwig Bemelmans, who is best known for his series of children’s books “Madeline” – and of course being the namesake of the bar.
Bemelmans’ murals, commissioned in the 1940s, depict the four seasons of nearby Central Park. There is a quintessential New York elegance in the room, tables and banquets surround a grand piano. On the side you will find a black granite bar and above you, a 24 carat gold leaf ceiling.
For the little ones and their adults, the bar hosts a Madeleine tea every Saturday in November and December.
In the evening the bartenders dress perfectly, the drinks are expertly mixed and presented deferentially.
The white sheets are thick (there are no paper napkins here) and the patrons have come to absorb and celebrate. The air is full of music and memories of an era when New York City was synonymous with glamor and sophistication and seemed the center of the universe. In Bemelmans it still is. -BF
Fraunces Tavern enjoys the remarkable distinction of being a bar frequented by George Washington long ago.
Courtesy of Fraunces Tavern
In operation since 1762, Fraunces achieves the remarkable distinction of hosting George Washington later in the day. Far back in time.
While it is still primarily a bar and restaurant, history buffs will want to take note of the tavern’s collection of 18th-century artifacts and artifacts housed in the two period rooms on the first floor of the museum.
Media contact Cian Lahart says the museum attracts people from across the country and beyond.
But a tourist bar is not. Located in the financial district, in Manhattan’s emerging South Street Seaport neighborhood, Fraunces sees many people after work.
Locals also know what happens: on a certain night, craft beer enthusiasts may be lucky and find the Franks serving the Alchemist’s Heady Topper. (A beer loved by the Stowe, Vermont microbrewery, Heady Topper is produced in limited quantities and distributed in an even more limited capacity outside of Vermont.)
The wide variety of tavern options includes not only an excellent (and sometimes rare) beer, but also a lot of whiskey. Over 400 varieties to be exact.
Fraunces’ mission to be faithful to America’s ancestors, the farmers who brewed their own beer and distilled their whiskey, however, is still evident today. Lahart points to Samuel Fraunces Ale in draft, which says “it evokes the type of beer styles that existed in colonial times.”
Aren’t you a beer drinker? Experience the tavern’s presidential punch, a colonial-style punch created to honor President George Washington. -SL
The Brooklyn Inn
The Brooklyn Inn on Boerum Hill is one of Brooklyn’s oldest drinking establishments. The interior has been beautifully maintained.
Courtesy Brooklyn Inn
On the surface, not much has changed in the 135-year history of this Boerum Hill bar.
It is still located in a cavernous corner space that manages to feel comfortable despite the atypically high ceilings and a long wraparound bar. Much of the woodwork in the large rooms is original and there are many details that evoke a 19th century American tavern.
(The ATM in the back room isn’t one of them, but an important date is March 2, 2020 – when the bar will start accepting credit cards for the first time in its history.)
The Brooklyn Inn manages to be both comfortable and extremely trendy without straining at all. Dark and downright relaxed in its behavior, it’s a local Brooklyn bar minus any new-brooklyn pretense.
There’s no food served here (but you can order), and the drink list is short and to the point.
It wouldn’t be a mistake to order one of the few cocktails listed on the back of the laminate menu.
Brooklyn Manhattan, so named for the inclusion of not only all the old bitters – but of the Brooklyn rhubarb hemisphere – suggests perhaps there is a touch of hipster in this old school bar after all. Just a little though: the side dish is a maraschino cherry – not to be confused with the luxurious Luxardo. -SL
Chumley’s current decor, including distressed leather sofas and heavy beveled glass objects, along with a working fireplace, evokes the apogee of the 1920s pub.
Courtesy of Chumley
This landmark was founded by Leland Chumley in 1922 as a private club for members of a socialist union. After the dissolution of the union, Chumley turned into an illegal speakeasy during prohibition.
During that time, Chumley paid the local police, thus avoiding the raids that would systematically shut down the other factories.
And, according to Jessica Rosen, media representative for Chumley, “The term” 86 “is said to have been coined by Chumley.” The police warned management that a raid was imminent and said “86 your customers.” That meant exiting the guests from the 86 Bedford Street entrance as the cops were about to enter through the now closed side door.
Notable early 20th century writers drank from Chumley, from the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay to John Steinbeck and Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Their portraits and those of old Hollywood movie stars like Humphrey Bogart are hung on the walls above shop windows that display book jackets, creating a literary atmosphere similar to a salon. The current furnishings, including worn leather sofas and heavy and beveled glassware, together with a working fireplace, evoke the apogee of the 1920s pub.
A 2007 construction accident caused Chumley to close for nearly 10 years, but was carefully renewed and renewed by restorers Alessandro Borgognone and Daisuke Nakazawa, who reopened Chumley in 2016.
If you plan to visit, a suggestion to find it: there is no external signage, only the number 86 on the door. -BF
The Ear Inn
Ear Inn is the oldest bar in New York City and not much has changed since the first drinks were poured.
Andy Kropa / Redux
Founded in 1817, The Ear Inn began as a watering hole for sailors and workers who worked hard along the Hudson River.
James Brown’s federal-style house, which houses the then unnamed bar, dates from the late 1700s.
As maritime traffic increased, the coasts expanded and commerce grew, the Ear Inn was a notorious den of iniquity – a place where men could drink, gamble and shop – no woman allowed it.
Ear Inn is the oldest bar in New York City and not much has changed since the first drinks were poured.
In the late 90s, the neighborhood in which The Ear is located was shady, even dangerous, not the adjacent Soho, full of luxury condominium that it is now. The bar remained unnamed until the 1970s (although it was known as “The Green Door”), when the owners gave it the current moniker.
According to its website, “They called it The Ear Inn to avoid the long overhaul of the new signage’s Landmark Signage, simply by covering the round parts of the long-standing neon” BAR “sign, leaving it to read” EAR “.
These days, models and bankers are more likely to be seen than sailors. You can choose from a large selection of beers and cocktails and immerse yourself in a damned hamburger. And when you cross the threshold, it is clear that you too will drink in history.