The Oldest Bars in the USA

By Blake Potolicchio | July 30, 2010 | 6 Comments |
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You love to drink beer right? Who doesn’t? (Well at least if you are on this site, we have to assume you do). We also appreciate history—whether it’s the history of beer or the industry in general. That is why Beer Universe wanted to get to the bottom of the oldest bar or pub in the major cities throughout the country. With beer becoming a more regional phenomenon quarterbacked by the craft movement, it is only fitting that in America’s most prominent cities, we try and highlight and pay tribute to their oldest watering holes.

Please let us know if we missed any or if there should be additions for your city!



BOSTON: Bell – in – Hand Tavern

Address: 45 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 227-2098
Founded: 1795

Settled September 17, 1630, Boston is not only home to craft beer’s most media minded company – Boston Beer Company, it is also where Bell-in-Hand Tavern has been holding drinking parties since 1795. Touted as the oldest, continuously operating bar in the country, the Tavern is currently housed in a building that dates back to 1844. Daniel Webster and Paul Revere had been known to frequent the Bell-in-Hand to enjoy their favorite beers. The Tavern is open 7 days a week and is a full service restaurant and bar. There are two floors and the capacity is approximately 496. Today even you can enjoy the flavor of many local beers in any of the five full-service bars.


NEW YORK CITY: McSorley’s Alehouse

Address: 15 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003
Phone: (212) 473-9148
Founded: 1854

McSorley's Old Ale House has been a gathering place, a watering hole, the subject of art and literature and even a Supreme Court controversy. McSorley's, under order of the court and law from the city council considers becoming a private club, but relents to the pressure and opens its doors to women. Established in 1854 - McSorley's can boast of being New York City's oldest continuously operated saloon. Everyone from Abe Lincoln to John Lennon has passed thru Mcsorley's swinging doors. Perhaps the single greatest novelty of McSorley's is that it has served one beverage in its 150 year history-Ale!


PHILADELPIA: McGillin’s Olde Ale House

Address: 1310 Drury Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 735-5562
Founded: 1860

McGillin’s Olde Ale House threw open its doors the year Lincoln was elected president. That’s shortly after the Liberty Bell cracked and long before ground was broken for Philadelphia City Hall. The beer taps have been flowing since 1860 -- making it the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia. It has outlasted Strawbridge’s, the Civil War and even Prohibition. McGillin's is marking its 150th Anniversary with the launch of its own beer, called McGillin’s 1860 IPA. It is made by Stoudt’s Brewing, brewer of the tavern’s two house beers: McGillin’s Real Ale and McGillin’s Genuine Lager. McGillin’s serves a large selection of regional microbrews such as Yards, Stoudt’s, Flying Fish, Victory, Sly Fox and Dogfish Head beers on tap, as well as imports.


WASHINGTON, DC: Old Ebbitt Grill

Address: 675 Fifteenth Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 347-4801
Founded: 1856

Each table in the Ebbitt was graced by a blue history card that read: "Many other famous statesmen, naval and military heroes, too numerous to mention here, have been guests of the house." Old Ebbitt Grill is just steps from The White House and museums in downtown Washington. Established in 1856, it was a favorite of Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Theodore Roosevelt and is still a popular meeting spot for political insiders, journalists, celebrities and theater-goers. The moves and their history have amassed a priceless collection of antiques and memorabilia. Along the way, Old Ebbitt acquired beer steins, animal heads (reputedly bagged by Teddy Roosevelt), and wooden bears said to have been imported by Alexander Hamilton for his private bar.



Address: 1232 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone: (415) 989-7666
Founded: 1861

As the oldest bar in San Francisco--it opened during the Gold Rush and survived the 1906 quake. It boasts the best of the blues in the Bay Area, not only in terms of the incredibly good music with almost unbelievably small crowds of a mid-week evening, but because of the impressive array of CDs recorded on the premises and released by proprietor Myron Mu. During the 1800s, so the legends go, drunks who stumbled out of this tavern risked being shanghaied for nasty and ill-paid ocean voyages. Its Between Columbus and Vallejo in the scenic heart of North Beach.



We hope to visit all of these fine establishments soon. Comment about your stories below!

Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe

6 Comments · The Oldest Bars in the USA

  • Ye Olde Tap Room the oldest bar in Detroit has been in operation since 1912. They are also home to over 285 beers since the 1970's.

  • The Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis was established in 1850. Well known not only for its history, but also for its live blues. Close to downtown, it is an institution for locals and visiting conventioneers, sports events, etc.

  • I've been to McSorleys plenty of times. I love it and its amazing the light and dark beers they give you there. It's never that good from the store, but in that setting best beer in the world!

  • The Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette, Indiana. was established in 1835. Here is a link to their history page.

  • Good article. Inspired me to do some researching in my home state:

    The Jury Room Pub in Columbus, OH. Established in 1831!

  • Though its original name is unknown, The Horse You Came In On is the oldest continuously active tavern / bar in Baltimore. Legend has it that this taproom was the last place Edgar Allan Poe was seen alive and his ghost still haunts the establishment.

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