The Oldest Bars in New York City

the beer list here was not exciting, but the scene is as classic as the jukebox| © Beer By BART/flickr
the beer list here was not exciting, but the scene is as classic as the jukebox| © Beer By BART/flickr
Photo of Nick Dauk
Senior Travel Writer5 March 2022

New York City is full of storied, centuries-old bars. Heritage haunts, such as the Paris Cafe, have seen Teddy Roosevelt and other historical people stroll across their floors, while “newer” bars, such as Rudy’s Bar & Grill – opened in 1933 – have hosted more contemporary figures, such as Johnny Knoxville. Whether you’re thirsty for a bit of history or just looking for an old-school watering hole, wet your whistle at some of the oldest bars in New York City.

The Landmark Tavern

Restaurant, Irish, European, American, $$$
People drinking and socializing outside the red-brick Landmark Tavern, adorned with parasols and green awnings
© Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo

Surely, Patrick Henry Carley couldn’t have guessed that his Landmark Tavern would become a beacon on the New York City bar scene when he opened it in 1868. Hugged by the Hudson and Hell’s Kitchen, the Landmark Tavern has watched the city grow into a metropolis, even surviving Prohibition by becoming a speakeasy. The charm of this old-school bar still pours from the draft, as does the Landmark Ale and Landmark Lager.

The Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall

Bar, Restaurant, Czech

It was thoughtful of the Czech and Slovak immigrants to bring a little Bohemian spirit to Brooklyn in the late 1880s – and even more kind of them to bring a beer garden into Astoria. The Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall had an unlucky opening at the start of Prohibition but persevered to serve excellent brews well into the millennium. Spend time in the sun sipping beers older than the bar itself, or discover some of the finest craft beers in Brooklyn with a crowd of fellow beer lovers.

Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn

Restaurant, German, $$$
Killmeyer’s origins are a little fuzzy, but that’s to be expected from a bar that’s been soaked in beer since at least 1890. Indeed, the building has worn many name tags over the past century, though the only details you should be concerned with are those on the extensive beer list. A dozen taps in the beer garden, 16 inside and more than 100 rotating bottles demonstrate why Killmeyer’s is one of the few bars on Staten Island to hold the prestigious Gold Beer Seal.

The Paris Cafe

Restaurant, American, $$$
The yellow-and-white facade of the Paris Cafe, with blue-and-white checkered tables, chairs and blue parasols in front
© Cecile Marion / Alamy Stock Photo
Don’t let the Parisian name and aroma of French steak hamburgers dupe you into sobriety – the Paris Cafe is one of the oldest bars in New York City. Lads and ladies have tended bar here since 1873, drawing in dedicated drinkers such as Butch Cassidy and Teddy Roosevelt. While we can’t speak to what Thomas Edison drank, we can confirm that you’ll elbow up to the restored German-made Victorian bar on which all barflies have landed since the cafe’s opening.

Brooklyn Inn

Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
People drinking at the 19th-century bar inside Brooklyn Inn
© New York City / Alamy Stock Photo
Among all the trends and hype filling the streets of Brooklyn, it’s easy to walk right by the unassuming Brooklyn Inn. Should you pass by this low-key watering hole, you’ll miss out on the same good times and chill vibes that have stained the wooden bar since 1885. A well-poured pint, a pool table and a jukebox that doesn’t disappoint – that’s all you need to know about the Brooklyn Inn.

PJ Clarke’s

Restaurant, American, $$$
People walking outside the red-brick PJ Clarke’s restaurant and bar, with high-rises behind
© Sandra Baker / Alamy Stock Photo
Fancy a proper pint of Guinness in one of the oldest bars in New York? You’d be wise to walk to PJ Clarke’s in Midtown. The beer started flowing here in 1884, less than 20 years after its last red bricks were laid. Irish immigrant laborers were the usual crowd, and in 1912, Irishman Paddy J Clarke arrived from the Emerald Isle and began to tend bar here. He bought it and renamed it, and ever since, it has entertained legends such as Buddy Holly, Richard Harris and – soon – you.

Rudy’s Bar & Grill

Bar, American, Wine, Beer, Pastries, Fast Food, $$$
A giant pig statue standing outside Rudy’s Bar and Grill, flanked by other businesses and with two people walking by
© Patti McConville / Alamy Stock Photo
Those who know the difference between a hole-in-the-wall joint, an old-school tavern and a true dive bar will appreciate the warm welcome from the big pig in front of Rudy’s Bar & Grill. Cheap beer, an eclectic list of patrons, including Al Capone, Johnny Knoxville and Irvine Welsh, and free hotdogs slathered in mustard, relish and sauerkraut make this a superlative slot to sink a few drinks. Rudy’s officially dates back to 1933, though some dodgy characters may have sneaked sips at this speakeasy as far back as 1919.

Julius’ Bar

Bar, Gay Bar, Cocktails
The dimly lit interior of Julius’ Bar, with a rainbow flag above the entrance
© Gay Tourism / Alamy Stock Photo

Julius’ Bar isn’t merely one of the oldest bars in New York City – it can also stake a claim as one of the oldest gay bars in NYC. If you could wring out the history spilled across this 1864-founded bar, you’d drink in tales of a Prohibition speakeasy and a “sip-in” in 1966 to advocate for gay rights. Dancing and drinks may lure you to this bar in the Village, but the juicy burgers will keep you coming back.

Thirsty for more? Drink in our selection of places to stay in Manhattan, the cheapest hotels in New York and the coolest stays in the city – all bookable on Culture Trip.

This is an updated article originally written by Rachelle Eason.

These recommendations were updated on March 5, 2022 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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