The storied McSorley’s Ale Old House—the oldest continuously operated bar in the city—has welcomed the likes of John Lennon, Teddy Roosevelt, Hunter S. Thompson and Woody Guthrie since opening in 1854. But since Memorial Day weekend, New Yorkers can now drink the bar’s popular ales like no guests have done before: to-go growlers are now available for takeout.
The growlers are sold in half- and one-gallon sizes ($27 and $54, respectively), along with a limited food menu that is offered 1-8pm daily. Thirsty imbibers will have to drop by the East Village watering hole on Seventh Street to pick up their beer and burgers ($9 with fries). The menu also includes Feltman’s hot dogs ($5) and a trio of sandwiches ($5 for liverwurst, turkey and ham-and-cheese).
“When you’re born and raised in the city, it’s surreal to see it digressing like it is right now,” says Gregory de la Haba, a longtime bartender whose wife owns McSorley’s. “I know a lot of bars and restaurants are doing whatever they can to survive.”
The city effectively shut down all restaurants and bars—except for the option to offer takeout and delivery with alcohol to-go—in mid March. McSorley’s initially offered takeout but business was too slow to keep it going and they put an end to it after a few days, according to de le Haba. But like other iconic institutions, such as steakhouse Peter Luger, the historic saloon was ready to jump back into business as the state began loosening its stay-at-home orders.
The takeout menu and to-go growlers—a half gallon serves about 10 mugs of beers—will be available for at least for the next few weeks before the McSorley’s owners decide whether to keep it going. This latest closing is the longest in the bar’s 166-year history (it stayed open during the Civil and throughout the Spanish flu).
“When John McSorley died in 1910, the bar was shut down for a week. Hurricane Sandy shut the door for a week,” says de la Haba. “This is unprecedented for sure.”
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