This is considered America’s oldest bar. Where is it? Read on to find out.
By Matt Meltzer
Because you love drinking, you love history, and of course, you love the history of drinking, we’ve tracked down the oldest bar, tavern, or pub in each of the 50 states… and Washington, D.C.
Now obviously, tracing bars through time is an admittedly inaccurate science, especially in a country that once banned booze. Some bars opened, closed, and reopened again years later; some burned down and were rebuilt; others moved buildings, changed names, turned into post offices, or stopped serving alcohol altogether. And still others, amazingly, remain the longest, continuous-running, liquor-pouring establishments in their great states, having weathered Prohibition by peddling turkey sandwiches and O’Doul’s.
While records are scarce, debate fierce, and the laughter we received when calling state historical societies very real (not to mention, slightly hurtful. Come on, we’re just asking a question!), in the end these 51 bars can — to the best of our research — lay at least some claim to the title of the state’s oldest watering hole.
Credit: Keith Burns
T.P. Crockmeirs — Mobile (Est. 1875)
It should surprise absolutely nobody that the oldest bar in Alabama was started by “a plantation owner with large holdings, and a loyal Southerner who fought in General Lee’s army.” In New York this would likely lead to your bar getting picketed (unless you put it in Williamsburg to be “ironic”), but in Alabama it makes you one of the most popular spots in Mobile.
Credit: Pinterest user Jone Suleski
B&B Bar — Kodiak (Est. 1908)
When the sun doesn’t come out for a month, it’s nice to have a friendly dive bar where you can go to drink until sunrise… in a few weeks. This little spot in the largest city on Kodiak Island (is there more than one city?) is exactly that dive bar, and it proudly displays the oldest liquor license in the Last Frontier.
Credit: The Palace
The Palace — Prescott (Est. 1877)
About as close to an authentic Wild West saloon as you’re going to get, this Arizona watering hole claims Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers as early patrons. While a fire in 1900 engulfed the street known as “Whiskey Row” and destroyed the original building, loyal patrons reportedly rescued the hand-carved bar; you can still sidle on up to it today.
Credit: Ohio Club
Ohio Club — Hot Springs (Est. 1905)
We’d like to think this was a bar where Bill Clinton took and/or met all his ladies NOT named Hillary, but we have no idea. What we do know is that before Bill ever came to Hot Springs, the Ohio Club was a bookie joint frequented by the likes of Al Capone, and a target of frequent police raids until the late 1960s.
Credit: Nikki Howard
The Saloon — San Francisco (Est. 1861)
When you’ve been around since 1861 and survived the most destructive American earthquake of the 20th century, you don’t need to go around finding fancy names. So this North Beach boozery hasn’t bothered changing its name — or much of anything else if old pictures are accurate — since the 1860s. While the upstairs once doubled as a house of ill repute, today The Saloon doubles as one of SF’s favorite small live music venues.
Credit: Buffalo Rose
Buffalo Rose Tavern — Golden (Est. 1859)
Known as the International Bowling Saloon when it first opened in 1859, this place later served as a meeting house for the Colorado Territorial House of Representatives. The current building has stood since 1902, and is now a live music venue that we’re guessing serves a LOT of Coors.
Credit: Flickr user Joe Mabel
Griswold Inn Tap Room — Essex (Est. 1776)
This spot on the Connecticut River in the tiny town of Essex actually still operates as a working hotel AND bar, and was actually a British command center during the War of 1812. Much as we’re sure that interests you, the REALLY cool part is that it was also used as a filming locale for “Dark Shadows” and still boasts live entertainment nightly.
Jessop’s Tavern — New Castle (Est. 1724)
America’s second-oldest bar goes to great lengths to keep it real with the folks who founded it, offering Dutch, English, and Swedish food, as well as what they claim is the largest selection of Belgian beers in Delaware.
Credit: Old Ebbitt Grill
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Old Ebbitt Grill — Washington, D.C. (Est. 1856)
Once part of the Old Ebbitt Hotel (where President William McKinley lived when he served in Congress), the bar was a favorite drinking spot of other presidents as well, including Ulysses Grant, Andrew Jackson, and Warren Harding. D.C.’s oldest bar once stood on F Street before the Old Ebbitt was demolished for an even grander drinking club: The National Press Building.
Credit: Palace Saloon
Palace Saloon — Fernandina Beach (Est. 1903)
In 1903 the “normal” part of Florida (if there ever was such a thing) was up north, and Fernandina Beach near Jacksonville was a major rail and sea port in need of a bar. And so opened the Palace Saloon, complete with an embossed tin ceiling (that’s still there today), Italian marble, and a mahogany & oak bar that was purchased in 1905 for the ungodly sum of $1,250; in today’s dollars, that’s $33,783.78!!!
Credit: The Pirate’s House
The Pirate’s House — Savannah (Est. 1753)
Originally built as an inn for sailors in Georgia’s main port city, it didn’t take long for the Pirate House to morph it into a drinking establishment. We are talking about sailors, after all. The oldest bar in Georgia was also once the site of an experimental garden that early colonists used to determine which crops would grow best in the region. It sits next to a house that’s reported to be the oldest standing building in the state.
Smith’s Union Bar — Honolulu (Est. 1935)
Back when Hotel Street was the main drag for Honolulu’s red light district, this bar opened up so sailors and merchants could get a good buzz on before, ah, patronizing the other businesses. Today Smitty Smith’s is the best dive bar in Honolulu — or at least the best one not filled with guys Dog is hunting — and a part of the popular First Fridays block party.
Credit: White Horse
White Horse Saloon — Spirit Lake (Est. 1907)
This 100-plus-year-old structure also has the distinction of being the tallest building constructed in Idaho in 1907. So there’s that. Not only does this boozer boast its original hardwood floors, but there are still eight rooms upstairs in which patrons can crash. And, yes, they’ve been updated since the flop house days of 1907.
Credit: Village Tavern
The Village Tavern — Long Grove (Est. 1849)
In a city that may very well have more bars than people, you’ve gotta get out to the northern suburbs to find the oldest bar in Chicagoland: The Village Tavern, a family-owned and operated joint in Long Grove. While nothing of great historical significance happened here, the 35-foot mahogany bar did survive the “other” great Chicago fire at The McCormick Place in 1967 before finding its new home in Long Grove.
Knickerbocker Saloon — Lafayette (Est. 1835)
Reading the liquor license displayed on the wall in Indiana’s oldest watering hole may be the only time you’ll see the words “Knickerbocker” and “#1” in the same sentence this century. Even better, if you’re a history buff, that liquor license was the first one issued in the entire state. Which makes sense, given it’s the oldest bar. Also, the Knicks still suck.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Djh57
Breitbach’s Country Dining — Sherrill (Est. 1852)
Talk about a place that brings the community together. In 2007, this country bar and restaurant (that’s so old its liquor permit was issued by Millard Fillmore) was decimated by two fires in a year and a half. Throughout 2008, people literally bussed themselves from all over the Midwest to get this place rebuilt; and in the best Iowa feel-good story since Field of Dreams, BCD reopened in August 2009 and now stands as Iowa’s oldest bar in its sixth generation of family ownership.
Credit: Kansas Travel
Hays House — Council Grove (Est. 1857)
Not only the longest-standing liquor serving establishment in the Jayhawk State, it also claims to be the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi. Founded by the great grandson of Daniel Boone, this spot was the town’s main building; it was used as a courtroom, post office, and, on Saturday nights, a church after all the booze was covered from the prying eyes of the good Lord by God-fearing parishioners.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Talbott Tavern — Bardstown (Est. 1779)
It’s cute how every hipster enclave in America now has its own little bourbon bar. But long before skinny jeans and drinking brown booze was cool, Abraham Lincoln, Jesse James, and Daniel Boone were knocking ‘em back at this Bardstown joint. Talbott Tavern’s the oldest bourbon bar in America, and still displays both bullet holes courtesy of Mr. James and murals painted by the entourage of exiled French King Louis Philippe.
Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop — New Orleans (Est. 1772)
You wouldn’t think the oldest bar in Louisiana would be smack at the end of the tourist trap that is Bourbon Street, but it is. Jean Lafitte’s used to be a hangout for pirates and other carriers of contraband — and then a gay bar in the 1950s — before becoming a nice, quiet little pub on America’s most raucous street.
Credit: Jameson Tavern
Jameson Tavern — Freeport (Est. 1779)
A plaque out front of this Freeport restaurant and bar proclaims it as the “Birthplace of Maine,” since it was the supposed meeting spot for citizens of the Province of Maine seeking independence from Massachusetts. And although over the years it temporarily reverted to being a private residence, among other things, it’s been an operational bar and restaurant since 1981. Fun fact: Bobby Flay stopped by in 2003 to learn how to cook a proper Maine lobster dinner.
Credit: Middleton Tavern
Middleton Tavern — Annapolis (Est. 1750)
The great American tradition of elected officials drinking to excess during legislative sessions may well have started at this Annapolis tavern, which was an after-work hangout for the Continental Congress and such luminaries as George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Today, it’s still one of the best places to get Maryland Crab cakes. Also, just so you know, nearby Reynolds Tavern — which reportedly predates Middleton by three years — also claims to be the oldest bar in the Old Line State. Do people really call it that?
Credit: Warren Tavern
Warren Tavern — Charlestown (Est. 1780)
Named after Major General Joseph Warren — a key figure in the battle of Bunker Hill — this tavern was one of the first places built after Charlestown was burned down during the war. The site of George Washington’s funeral speech, the Warren hosted other historic patrons including Ben Franklin and Paul Revere. FYI, this one’s also the subject of some debate as the Green Dragon Tavern, billed as “the headquarters of the Revolution”, also stakes a claim.
Credit: Old Tavern Inn
Old Tavern Inn — Niles (Est. 1835)
This isn’t just the oldest BAR in Michigan; it’s the oldest BUSINESS, aside from maybe bribing public officials. What started as an overnight stop for people making the treacherous journey from Chicago to Detroit has become a Michigan institution, and still serves some of the best sandwiches in the state.
Credit: Neumann’s Bar
Neumann’s Bar — North St. Paul (Est. 1887)
Helping patrons stay warm through those long Minnesota winters during Prohibition, Neumann’s sold non-alcoholic suds in the downstairs main room while running a heated speakeasy on the second floor. The back bar was installed by the good people at the Hamm’s Brewery.
Credit: Kings Tavern
Kings Tavern — Natchez (Est. 1769)
What’s worse than tearing out a wall during a renovation and finding a dead body? Tearing out said wall and finding THREE dead bodies, plus a jeweled dagger, all of which date back a good 160 years. That’s exactly what happened in the 1930s when workers uncovered what they suspected to be the remains of original owner Richard King’s mistress, along with two unidentified males.
O’Malley’s Pub — Weston (Est. 1842)
It seems like every trendy nightspot now is trying to be some kind of secret “speakeasy” where you need a reservation to pay $19 for a drink made with ingredients you can’t pronounce. O’Malley’s is slightly more legit — as in, it really was a speakeasy. But it was also around long before Prohibition. This cavernous, three-level Missouri hideaway is located 55 feet underground in the basement of the Weston Brewing Company.
Credit: Flickr user The Q Speaks
Bale of Hay Saloon — Virginia City (Est. 1863)
Now owned by a couple of sisters, this bar literally runs a promotion that refers to its sordid “Brothel Days”. So, yes, it used to also be a house of ill repute. Bale of Hay rocks a giant mahogany bar that the original owners had hand-carved in Cincinnati, there’s live music playing all summer, and they claim to pour the best selection of Montana microbrews in all of Virginia City. Granted, there probably isn’t a whole lot of competition as the town’s population is 196, but hey, a title’s a title.
Glur’s tavern — Columbus (Est. 1876)
This whitewashed wood building is, according to its owner, the oldest bar west of the Missouri River operating continuously in the same building. Which fits nicely on a plaque, we’re sure, but isn’t nearly as notable as its place among favorite watering holes of Buffalo Bill Cody.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Genoa Bar — Genoa (Est. 1853)
You know you’re an authentic Old West saloon when John Wayne and Clint Eastwood have both filmed movies here. Maybe? This drinking den in desolate northern Nevada was also used as the set for a Coors Light commercial, and makes a brief appearance in “Misery.” Opened in 1853 as Livingston’s Exchange, Genoa is billed today as “Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor”. A wood stove is the only source of heat, and Raquel Welch’s leopard print bra reportedly hangs from some deer antlers behind the bar.
Credit: Hancock Inn
The Hancock Inn — Hancock (Est. 1789)
Since we’re talking rural New England here, it should come as no surprise that the oldest tavern in the state is in what now operates as primarily a bed and breakfast. This colonial landmark is the oldest inn in New Hampshire, and was a regular hangout for the only guy from the state to ever be president, Franklin Pierce. It’s still got a tavern and restaurant, so you can stop in without having to spend a romantic weekend watching the leaves change or some other equivalent unpleasantness.
Credit: The Barnsboro Inn
Barnsboro Inn — Sewell (Est. 1720)
Though there’s no shortage of historic bars in the Garden State, at nearly 300 years of age this one is the oldest; plus, it still goes off with nightly live music, boasts a solid outdoor terrace, and offers a menu long on comfort food.
Credit: El Patio
El Patio Cantina — Mesilla, N.M. (Est. 1934)
This building was originally owned by Billy the Kid’s lawyer, A.J. Fountain, and has been passed down through his family since the 1880s. Ironic, since prior to Fountain, the place was home to a saloon owned by Judge Roy Beam, the region’s notorious “hanging judge”. So while this incarnation of the bar’s only been around for 80 years, the building itself has been a bar for a lot longer.
Credit: The Old ‘76 House
The Old ‘76 House — Tappan (Est. 1755)
Though some have mistakenly thought this stone house on the New York/New Jersey state line was an old prison, it’s only ever incarcerated one person: Revolutionary War spy Major John Andre. And despite being referred to as “Andre’s Prison,” it has pretty much been a bar the whole time before and since. It was also a safe house for revolutionary soldiers hiding from the British, and was a regular dining spot for George Washington.
Credit: Tavern in Old Salem
Tavern in Old Salem — Salem (Est. 1784)
Ever wonder what traditional Moravian attire is? Did you just do a search for Moravian? We’ll save you the time: It’s a reference to the families that lived around Salem at the turn of the 19th century. During the day, the servers at the historic Salem restaurant and bar don that style of attire, while serving craft beers and cocktails together with traditional Moravian food.
Credit: Peacock Alley
Peacock Alley — Bismark (Est. 1933)
In addition to being the oldest bar in North Dakota, it is also, by far, the wold’s best bar located below a senior center. We dare you to find a better one. Originally the bar for the Patterson Hotel, the hotel was later converted to senior living, making the now hotel-less watering hole a convenient pickup spot for the swinging singles who live upstairs. Before the change, Peacock Alley hosted such famous patrons as JFK, Joe Louis, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.
Credit: Ye Olde Trail Tavern
Ye Olde Trail Tavern — Yellow Springs (Est. 1848)
Sure, eating in the second oldest restaurant in Ohio is cool and all; and drinking in the oldest bar in the Buckeye State has a certain novelty. But where else can you do both of those things AND down all-you-can-eat spaghetti and homemade sauce every Thursday through Sunday? Who says Ohio doesn’t have any redeeming qualities?
Credit: Eischen’s Bar
Eischen’s Bar — Okarche (Est. 1896)
Fried chicken is the main attraction at this 118-year-old Oklahoma drinking den, but the sleek black bar in the back has a more interesting story than the yardbird. It was hand carved in Spain nearly 200 years ago, shipped to California during the Gold Rush, and somehow ended up in Okarche in 1950. It’s one of the few surviving items from a fire that destroyed the original Eischen’s in 1993.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Huber’s — Portland (Est. 1879)
It’s rare that a bar would become better known for sandwiches than for drinks, but when Jim Huber bought the old Bureau Saloon in 1891, he hired a chef and started giving away a free turkey sandwich with every drink. In fact, it was the famous turkey that kept the place alive during Prohibition. While the free deal sadly no longer exists, the sandwich is still worth the stop.
Credit: Broad Axe
Broad Axe Tavern — Ambler (Est. 1681)
Originally an intersection of dirt roads in rural Pennsylvania used for trading with local Indian tribes, Broad Axe Tavern’s been serving up grog since the 17th century and was once home to horse races, revolutionary soldiers, and even a family of ghosts (allegedly).
Credit: White Horse Tavern
White Horse Tavern — Newport (Est. 1673)
Not just the oldest bar in the smallest state, but the oldest bar in the whole freaking country, this spot was home to colonial assemblies, criminal courts, and civic government before it ever served a single drink. Once run by a pirate, WHT was restored in 1957 and is now better known as a home for some of the best seafood in New England. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of booze for you to sip while snapping a selfie of yourself having a drink in America’s oldest bar.
McCrady’s — Charleston (Est. 1778)
Now that McCrady’s has graduated from saloon to fine-dining establishment, you may find yourself having more than a couple of courses while you partake of their extensive lineup of craft beer, wines, and cocktails. But you’ll never top George Washington, who in 1791, enjoyed a 30-course dinner here.
Credit: Buffalo Bodega
Buffalo Bodega Bar — Deadwood (Est. 1877)
Now known as the Buffalo Bodega Gaming Complex, this was actually the NEWEST bar in town when it became the city’s 18th saloon during the heyday of Buffalo Bill Cody, a close friend of original owner Mike Russell. Today, you can still drink and gamble there (with considerably less risk of being shot) and even get a room at the Bullock Hotel upstairs.
Credit: Springwater Supper Club
Springwater Supper Club — Nashville (Est. 1896)
Originally opened as a bar for the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, this grungy rock club was a southern speakeasy during Prohibition, then a bar called the Pirate’s Den, Norma’s, and finally, its current iteration since 1978. It’s a divey live music venue that, in the ever-changing world of Nashville nightlife, has managed to survive for over a century.
Credit: Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten — Austin (Est. 1866)
Since it’s in the capital, the oldest Lone Star bar has been a popular hangout for local politicos, as well as a staging ground for fundraisers, campaign events, and pretty much anything else alcohol related that Texas politicians do. Founded originally by German immigrant August Scholz, this beer hall is, not surprisingly, also known for its its schnitzel.
Credit: Shooting Star
Shooting Star Saloon — Huntsville (Est. 1879)
Yes, there are bars in Utah. And yes, they serve beer that’s over two percent ABV. And this one, formerly known as Holin’s Bar, got its name when a regular patron, Whiskey Joe, was asked to leave and began shooting at a decorative star over the doorway. We’re guessing he was angry that he didn’t get to finish his Star Burger, two all-beef patties and a knockwurst on two buns with onions, mustard, ketchup, and pickles.
Credit: Abingdon Tavern
The Tavern — Abingdon (Est. 1779)
The oldest bar in the Commonwealth has been a lot of things through the years, including a post office, private residence, and hospital for both Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War. And as an inn, it housed Andrew Jackson, King Louis Philippe of France, and other foreign dignitaries. It now serves drinks nightly, having been reopened by a retired Air Force officer in 1994.
Credit: Ye Olde Tavern
Ye Olde Tavern — Manchester (Est. 1790)
Formerly known as Thayer’s hotel, this Manchester landmark was a social gathering spot for the Vermont elite through much of the 18th and 19th centuries. Home to the first phone line in Manchester, it was fully restored as an operating bar and restaurant in 1975, just in time for the bicentennial. It still maintains uneven floors and slanted doorways as a tribute to its colonial past.
Credit: The Brick
The Brick Saloon — Roslyn (Est. 1889)
Despite being the oldest bar in Washington, the producers of the offbeat ’90s TV show “Northern Exposure” wanted us all to believe it was the favorite local watering hole of the good folks in Sicily, Alaska; the show didn’t even bother renaming it. Despite being the most famous bar in the state during the ’90s to NOT launch a grunge rock band, The Brick would have been well equipped to handle the crowd if it got rowdy — there’s even an in-house jail cell.
Credit: Three Gables Club
Three Gables Club — Hilltop (Est. 1935)
Don’t let that “club” in the name fool you into thinking there’s a velvet rope and a two-bottle minimum. Or even that there’s any sort of membership required. This classic local dive has been in the same family for nearly eight decades and serves, at least according to them, the best steak in Fayette County. Beef steaks. Not possum, in case you still harbor negative stereotypes of West Virginia.
The Uptowner — Milwaukee (Est. 1884)
Ironically dubbed “the home of the beautiful people”, this Milwaukee spot originally opened by Joseph Schlitz has been a blue-collar mainstay for the industrious workers of southern Wisconsin since the end of the 19th century. One of the best things about The Uptowner: It opens at 6 a.m.!
Credit: Wyomings Oldest Bar
Miner’s and Stockmen’s Steakhouse — Hartville (Est. 1862)
If you’re reading this story in a bar, there’s a good chance it has more people in it right now than in all of Wyoming’s oldest incorporated town. The 0.25-square-mile city of Hartville boasts 62 residents and is home to the Miner’s Inn, which in addition to being the town saloon is also the town steakhouse.
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