One For The Road At McSorley's Old Ale House
McSorley's has been around since 1854 which makes it the oldest bar in New York City. It was once called "The Old House at Home". New Yorkers considered this pub a Temple. Some of the most famous men in American history once drank at this historic bar. Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ulysses S.Grant all had a pint or two while stepping on the sawdust as they walked through the bar.
Two things I'm instantly aware of when I walk into any bar or restaurant are the people and the energy. I keep a close eye on the body language and hospitality of the staff, especially if I plan on spending my money there. Greg, one of the owners of McSorley's, met me at the door with a smile and a warm welcome. He made me feel like I had been there before, when in fact, I had never seen this place before in my life. My drinking buddies would tell me tales of great times at McSorley's that led to foggy mornings with wide-back women laying in their beds. I just never took the opportunity to visit. But on this day, it was as if Greg and I had met before and he was happy to see me back. It was quite refreshing to be honest. This rarely happens to me considering my size and my resting "I'll kick your ass" face. I've been accustomed to very little eye contact, curt replays, and tired eyes from bartenders. Most of the time I chalk it up. It's New York! What you gonna do?
I walked into McSorley's by myself on a Friday to case out the place. As I sat at a table in the corner across from the bar, I found myself paying attention to one guy in particular who was sitting by himself at a table adjacent to mine. I could see that he was soaking it all in. To be sitting at a table in a bar, with Covid-19 threatening the very air we breathe and witnessing people more focused on the company they are with, rather than that stupid soul-sucking device we call a phone, just felt good. There isn't a TV in McSorley's, so watching a sports show or your favorite team is not an option. McSorley's grants you two wishes, either be present or be friendly. No matter which one you choose, do it with a dark or light pale ale.
After 10 minutes goes by about six dark pale ales find its way into my belly. Fish and chips are only on the menu on Fridays. Greg pretty much ordered it for me and I wasn't saying no. I sat and ate and allowed my eyes to absorb all the history that covered the walls. Time went by casually and the urge to stay lingered in my mind. But I stopped what could have been the start to helluva a Friday night. As I slapped my cash down on the table to pay my bill, I walked towards Greg and said I'm coming back with friends so keep the beer cold and the bathrooms clean. This is .....One For The Road!