Vintage Barrooms in downtown New York City
326 Spring Street (btw Greenwich and Washington)
Founded circa 1871, the Ear served as a halfway house for runaway slaves during the Civil War. It's now a beautiful historic landmark building, open for late-night meals. The crowd is rowdy and eclectic, and spills out into the sidewalk in the summertime.
94 Prince Street (at Mercer)
Definitely on the finalist list for one of the oldest and best taverns, nothing beats that original dark wood paneling and a bartender who used to be a prizefighter in his youth. It served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, and the days is best enjoyed late at night, once the tourists and shoppers have gone to bed.
The White Horse Tavern
567 Hudson (at West 11th Street)
Also a former speakeasy and hangout of artists like Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, and Bob Dylan. Dylan Thomas drank himself to death right here in 1953, for whatever that's worth to you. Good for beer and a tuna melt on lazy Saturday afternoons.
86 Bedford Street (btw Grove and Barrow Streets)
Sawdust covered former speakeasy where you can carve your sweetheart's name into the tables. Early evening it's overrun by frat boys, but late and on snowy evening nights you can cozy up to the fire and enjoy a pretty great selection of local and imported beers.
McSorely's Old Ale House
15 E 7th Street (btw 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
This place hasn't changed much in the last 70 years or so. It's still dark and gloomy and a good place to get a little melancholy with one of two beer selections available: McSorely's own light and dark.
Old Town Bar and Restaurant
45 East 18th Street (btw Boradway and Park Avenue South)
Sweeping view of the mahogany bar is part of the opener on Late Night With David Letterman. The serious drinkers go early and sink into one of the intimate booths opposite the bar.
129 East 18th Street at Irving Place
Yet another bar that claims to be "the longest continuously operating saloon in New York". Two staples of American literature were created here, O'Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" and Ludwig Bemelman's "Madeleine." What is it with beer and writers?