Like many patrons who have visited McSorley’s Old Ale House before me, I will never forget my first visit to the legendary Manhattan bar (which happened back around the turn of the millennium). Between drinking mugs of “light” and “dark” (the only two beers offered), I decided to order cheese and crackers – which turned out to be nothing more than a sliced block of cheddar and an unopened bag of saltines. Probably about 30 minutes later, I asked for seconds and was promptly informed, “Kitchen’s closed!” No more saltines for me, I guess! It was, as I later learned, classic McSorley’s.
Sadly, it turns out that recently some local varmint may have been chowing down on that McSorley’s cheese because last Wednesday, November 10, the New York City Department of Health closed down the establishment which boasts on its signage that it’s been around since 1854. According to Eater, the shutdown was due to “evidence of rat activity” – a bit of an ironic twist being that another one of McSorley’s recent run-ins with the DOH was when the bar was forced to give its resident cats the boot. Though McSorley’s has maintained a good standing with the DOH as of late, the newfound rat infestation was believed to be an unavoidable result of ongoing construction nearby.
However, good news: You can’t keep an over 150-year-old bar down. McSorley’s was back up and running as of yesterday after patching up some holes, handling some paperwork and passing a follow-up inspection. According to the blog EV Grieve, there was even “a small group of patrons waiting for the doors to reopen.”
If you’ve never been to McSorley’s, hopefully it goes without saying that you shouldn’t let the recent shutdown deter you from visiting this historic pub. (If you’re looking for a reason to deter you from going, the weekend crowds are a much better excuse!) And definitely don’t let the DOH scare you from ordering some food. Nothing pairs with McSorley’s light and dark like saltines – assuming you can convince them to serve you a sleeve.