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Style & Living Food and Drinks

7 of the Oldest Irish Pubs in America Where You Can Down a Pint With a Nostalgia Chaser

Toast to St. Patrick's Day at one of the oldest Irish pubs in America.

By Elizabeth Seward

Every year, across the U.S., bars fill with Americans keen on celebrating St. Patrick's Day by wearing green, pinching those who aren't... and drinking excessively. If that's your thing, consider adding doses of authenticity and tradition to your party plans with a stop at one of the oldest Irish pubs in America — where you can chase your Guinness with a rich sense of history. If the walls could talk! 

Wherever you go to down your pint, take a moment to pour out a little for what was until recently considered by many to be the oldest Irish pub in America — Baltimore's Patrick's of Pratt Street which dated back to 1847— until it closed in 2016, according to The Baltimore Sun.

1. McSorley’s Old Ale House — New York City

Founded in the mid-19th century, this New York City pub is not only legendary, but it's also the oldest Irish pub in America. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and even a 1940 New Yorker piece all cite the opening year as 1854. Still, some ambiguity remains in popular mythology surrounding the opening date. Thrillist notes that the exact date is debatable, saying it could have been as late as 1862. But even if some mystery as to the specifics linger in doubt, the place is old as heck and an incredible place to visit: There are historical mementos all around in McSorley's, like hanging wishbones that are said to have been placed there by soldiers heading into World War I intending to retrieve them upon their return (hence, the ones still hanging belong to those who did not return). Though the establishment didn’t allow women on the premises until legally forced to do so in 1970, the space in 2018 operates much like any other Irish pub in the U.S.A.; everyone is free to enter and indulge (and sometimes overindulge) equally.

2. McGillin’s Olde Ale House — Philadelphia

This Philadelphia spot isn’t just the oldest Irish pub in the city: It’s the oldest continuously operating tavern of any kind there. Yes, McGillin's opened in 1860, and has never stopped serving. Stop by McGillin's these days for beer, bar food standbys, and a peek at various old memorabilia — like the establishment's original bar sign.

3. Shinnick’s Pub — Chicago

Shinnick’s Pub in Chicago is tucked into a building that has been standing since the 1880s. It was a pub under a different name before the Shinnick family took it over in 1938 and is still under the under the ownership of the nine Shinnick children who inherited the business from their parents. St. Patrick’s Day events start early at this spot, making for a multi-day celebration.

4. Doyle’s Café — Boston

Just outside of Boston in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts sits another one of the U.S.A.’s oldest Irish pubs. Doyle’s Café first opened its doors in 1882. This landmark watering hole was the first bar to ever put Sam Adams beer on tap; it’s located close to the brewery. So the next time you’re in the Boston area, head to Doyle’s for a pint, a veggie burger (or whatever standard American pub fare you prefer), and a look into Massachusetts history.

5. Molly’s Shebeen — New York City

The New York City bar that is now known as Molly’s Shebeen first opened in 1895. While prohibition yielded some non-bar iterations of the space, it’s been an Irish pub since 1964, replete with sawdust on the floor.

6. Kelly’s Logan House — Wilmington, Delaware

The oldest Irish bar in the state of Delaware is Kelly’s Logan House, located in Wilmington, and it’s been a spot the public can enjoy since 1864. Go and indulge in decadent food, Irish whiskey, or whatever your favorite beverage is — it's all behind the bar.

7. Golden Ace Inn — Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis’ Golden Ace Inn swung its doors open in 1934, just four months after prohibition. Two Irish immigrants started the pub and it’s still going strong today. The Golden Ace's St. Patrick’s Day event is a two-day affair featuring live music.

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