“Well, Mr. Flood, we have not met like this
In a long time; and many a change has come
To both of us, I fear, since last it was
We had a drop together. Welcome home!”
—Edwin Arlington Robinson, “Mr. Flood’s Party”
McSorley’s is still there, just off Cooper Square at 15 East Seventh Street, and it’s still a wonderful saloon. It sold its first pint in 1854—gold-painted words in the front window say “This Is Our 138th Year And Ale Is Well”—making it the oldest place to drink in New York City. In 1940, when Joseph Mitchell, who had then only recently joined The New Yorker, wrote his famous Profile of McSorley’s, the saloon was a youthful eighty-six. In the half-century since, it has changed very little: it now draws its ale in small glass seidels rather than earthenware mugs; the pair of flickering gas lamps over...