As one of the last Colonial buildings remaining in New York, Fraunces Tavern gives patrons a sense of what life was like nearly a century before America’s nationhood. Built in 1719 as a merchant's residence, the building was purchased by tavern keeper Samuel Fraunces in 1762. It soon became a hotbed of pre- and post-Revolution activity. This includes a visit from George Washington in 1783, during which he stood in The Long Room and delivered a farewell address to officers of the Continental Army. Today, Fraunces Tavern functions as both a museum and a restaurant operated by Dublin-based The Porterhouse Brewing Co. Preserved to retain its original Colonial appearance, the dining room is defined by its plank floors, stalwart wood tables, and bench seating. At the bar, brass dispensers pour microbrews such as the Plain Porter, which has won multiple distinctions from The Brewing Industry International Awards. The Dingle Whiskey Bar, a secluded part of the tavern, invites whiskey aficionados to lay down their muskets, take off their tricorn hats, and relax in front of a crackling fire.
In 1854, just three years after he landed in New York, Irishman John McSorley opened a blue-collar saloon that served ale along with cheese and crackers. He probably never foresaw the legends who would walk through the swinging front doors, or that his saloon would become a landmark associated with literature, art, music, and even civil rights. In the more than 150-year history of McSorley’s Old Ale House, its sawdust-strewn floors were tread on by figures such as Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon, and Woody Guthrie. e.e. cummings visited and wrote the poem “i was sitting in mcsorley’s”, and artist John French Sloan created several paintings depicting the saloon. Even a play inspired by McSorley’s ran on Broadway for more than 100 performances. Two attorneys led a suit to allow women into the ale house, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court. And amid this flurry of activity, the saloon survived multiple changes to the brewer of its McSorley’s Cream Stock Ale, including during Prohibition when Bill McSorley had to set up a brewery in the basement. Though ownership has changed three times, each owner has honored the original spirit of McSorley’s. This remains true today as the Maher family continues to run the place as a true ale house. Behind the bar still looms the words of John McSorley embossed on a hardwood cabinet: “Be good or be gone.”
The Ginger Man might be relatively quiet by day, but come evening, this Midtown restaurant and bar features an international selection of beers that keeps customers hopping. Happy hour officially kicks off the festivities, while crowds continue to swell as the evening progresses. International vintage beer and alcohol advertisements line the walls inside the Ginger Man, where groups of beer lovers enjoy selections ranging from an Emelesse Smoked Porter from the Netherlands to a bottle of Japanese Hitachino Red Rice. Beers come from halfway across the world or just down the road, including a local cask-conditioned pale ale from a Bronx brewery. Pretzels, sandwiches, sausage and cheese plates, as well as an array of meat pies make for good pub fare to wash down all the suds, wine and spirits. Sink into a tall wooden booth or hang by the large front windows for a more loungey feel.