Made famous by its literary regulars the White Horse Tavern is one of oldest drinking establishments in New York.
The White Horse Tavern is best known for its 1950s and 1960s Bohemian culture, as it was the favorite spot amongst local writers and artists at that time.
It started humbly in 1880 as a longshoremen’s bar but turned into the literary center of the neighborhood upon discovery by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
Incidentally, he was the person who made the place infamous when he drank himself to death, beating his own personal record by downing eighteen shots of whiskey. He collapsed right outside of the bar and proceeded to make his last trip (in other words carried while unconscious) back home to the Chelsea Hotel. He fell into a coma and died the next day at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Dylan Thomas’ portraits line the Tavern’s walls while a plaque above the bar commemorates his last lethal visit.
The White Horse Tavern became a regular gathering place for such literary heavyweights as James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, and Anais Nin, as well as a drinking spot for Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. The latter was asked to leave the establishment more than once, a sentiment immortalized by the words scrawled on the bathroom wall: “JACK GO HOME!”
Owing to its literary repute, the White Horse Tavern has become popular with tourists: one can often spot tour groups and people armed with guidebooks. Despite this, it hasn’t really changed much. The place is still cash-only – the way it used to be – and keeps very basic food menu.
Order Dylan Thomas’s favored whiskey neat or Bob’s Bloody Mary.