The Great American Saloon Series
Women are not so much interested in actually drinking here as having the right to do so if they wish. After all, this is an ale house and it takes a certain amount of stamina to down pints all evening long.
—Daniel O'Connell Kirwan
McSorley's Old Ale House, Lower Manhattan
The first female to enjoy the illicit and theretofore unfeminine pleasure of quaffing an ale at McSorley's Old Ale House, Manhattan's oldest tavern, was not, as many believe, a skirted member of Betty Friedan's National Organization for Women. True, it was on the heels of a much-publicized court battle that NOW successfully forced the admission of women to the pub in 1970. But in fact, the first woman ever to drink at McSorley's was a guest willingly admitted to the tavern by the founding owner himself.
"Beer," the venerable Nürnberger confided to me with a discreet belch, "has one distinct advantage over sex; when you finally have the time and the means to make the most of it, you can still do the stuff justice." The pronouncement, delivered over brimming steins of Rauchbier, a fascinating tawny brew made with smoked hops in Bamberg, and available only in an old Nürnberg tavern a few steps from Albrecht Dürer's imposing medieval house, carried a certain weight. So did the toper, who must have tipped the scales at close to three hundred pounds. Given his years and tonnage, there was certainly no question about it in his case -- spirited quaffing must have been easier than spirited lovemaking.