Every state has bars that locals love to say have been around forever. But which one has been around the longest?
Taverns and bars opened in America as soon as the first settlers arrived to the continent. And while changes to commerce, culture, and technology have caused businesses to come and go, the demand for a place to drink has been a constant (as has the demand for beer). Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin frequented City Tavern in Philadelphia while writing the Declaration of Independence, and “The Star Spangled Banner” was set to a British drinking song.
24/7 Wall St. has identified the oldest bar in each state that is still serving drinks. To be considered, the establishment has to have been in the same location from the time it started serving alcohol, although continuous operation was not required. These places sometimes changed hands and name, but patrons today can stand in a place where alcohol was served centuries ago.
What we found is that 14 bars on the list opened by 1789, the year George Washington took office as the first President of the United States.
The nation’s oldest bar, Rhode Island’s White Horse Tavern, opened in 1673. The newest bar on this list of oldest bars is West Virginia’s Three Gables Club, which opened in 1935. Almost half of the bars on the list opened before the state they are located in joined the Union.
Determining a founding date for these establishments was rarely easy, and often depended on the claims of the establishments themselves. Whenever possible, we consulted corroborations by local experts, state historical societies, the issuance of liquor licenses, and more. In each bar’s description, the date listed is when we believe the establishment first served liquor on its premises.
Many bars have been private residences or other types of facilities over the years and many were forced to close or go underground during temperance movements in the 1800s and Prohibition from 1920-1933. Many of these establishments, however, continued to operate as speakeasies.
> Bar name: Peerless Saloon
> City: Anniston
> Original bar founded: 1899
Robert E. “Daddy” Garner, the original proprietor of the Peerless Saloon, was known for serving its own Old Wildcat whiskey. The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985. The saloon features the original mirrored back bar that the owners claim was exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The second floor of the Victorian Neoclassical building was a brothel at one point.
> Bar name: B&B Bar
> City: Kodiak
> Original bar founded: 1906
On the wall of B&B Bar is the oldest liquor license issued in Alaska. The bar only serves bottles of beer — nothing on tap — and requires cash payment. The wood frame building is across from the marina, which is home to America’s second largest fishing fleet and supplier of many of the bar’s patrons.
> Bar name: The Palace
> City: Prescott
> Original bar founded: 1877
Among the early patrons of The Palace, situated on Whiskey Row in Prescott, Arizona, were Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, and Doc Holliday. The infamous Whiskey Row fire on July 14, 1900 gutted the Palace, but the original bar, still used to this day, was saved by patrons who carried it across the street to safety.
> Bar name: Ohio Club
> City: Hot Springs
> Original bar founded: 1905
During its first eight years of existence, the Ohio Club was also a legal casino. Even after gambling was declared illegal in 1913, the casino and sports book remained open and in operation until 1967. A haunt of celebrities — famous and infamous — patrons included Babe Ruth, Al Jolson, and Mae West as well as gangsters Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, and Bugs Moran.
> Bar name: Smiley’s Schooner Saloon
> City: Bolinas
> Original bar founded: 1851
Built during the Gold Rush days for Captain Isaac Morgan, who also owned an apple orchard and schooner building, Smiley’s Schooner Saloon survived the temperance movement of the 1860s, Prohibition, and the Great Earthquake of 1906. During Prohibition, the front was a barbershop and a door led to the bar. Leila Monroe, who purchased the bar in 2015, is the first woman to own the establishment.
> Bar name: Silver Dollar Saloon
> City: Leadville
> Original bar founded: 1883
When it first opened in the Clipper Building, it was known as the Board of Trade Saloon. Gunslinger and gambler Doc Holliday played poker at the saloon. The bar’s name was changed to Silver Dollar Saloon in 1935. The saloon still has an old phone booth, the original tile floor, and the back bar was made by the Brunswick Company.
> Bar name: Tap Room in the Griswold Inn
> City: Essex
> Original bar founded: 1776
Established during the American Revolution, the Griswold Inn survived an 1814 raid by the British during the War of 1812. Known as the Gris, the bar thrived during the golden era of steamboating and still features an impressive collection of marine art and artifacts from the 1820s. The tap room was originally used in 1730 as a schoolhouse.
> Bar name: Cantwell’s Tavern
> City: Odessa
> Original bar founded: 1822
William Polk built the Federal building that was initially called Cantwell’s Bridge Hotel and Tavern. It remained in operation for the next 100 years. the clientele was primarily merchants, ship captains, and visitors to this port town. Cantwell reopened in 2011 as an early 19th century style tavern, and the flooring on the first floor is the original.
> Bar name: The Palace Saloon
> City: Fernandina Beach
> Original bar founded: 1903
Located on Amelia Island, the Palace Saloon was originally a haberdashery before it was converted into a tavern. Known as the “Shipcaptain’s Bar,” owner Louis Hirth had his friend Adolphus Busch, founder of Anheuser-Busch, help design of the establishment. The last bar in America to close when Prohibition became the law of the land, the Palace Saloon served ice cream and sold Texaco gas.
> Bar name: The Pirate’s House
> City: Savannah
> Original bar founded: 1753
The Pirate’s House was a popular meeting spot for seamen and pirates thanks to its location — just one block from the Savannah River. Legend has it that the bar is not only haunted, but also that patrons who entered looking for a drink would wake up the next morning aboard a ship at sea. The most famous ghost to haunt the place is actually a fictional character. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” Captain Flint dies in an upstairs room, shouting, “Darby M’Graw – fetch aft the rum….”
> Bar name: Smith’s Union Bar
> City: Honolulu
> Original bar founded: 1934
Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, each ship in the Navy had a bar that its sailors frequented. Smith’s Union Bar was home to the crew of the ill-fated USS Arizona. Every year on Dec. 4, Lauren Bruner comes to Smith’s for a drink in memory of his shipmates. Bruner was a 20-year-old Fire Controlman on Dec. 7, 1941 when the Japanese attack sank the ship and killed 1,177 of the 1,512 crewmen on board.
> Bar name: White Horse Saloon
> City: Spirit Lake
> Original bar founded: 1907
The White Horse Saloon still has its original wood floors and bar. The building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, also houses a restaurant and an eight-room hotel. It’s also said to be haunted by “Big Girl,” a spirit who is said to roam the second floor.
> Bar name: The Village Tavern
> City: Long Grove
> Original bar founded: 1847
Originally known as the Presidents Bar, The Village Tavern is known for its massive 35-foot mahogany bar, which survived Chicago’s Great McCormick Place Fire in 1967. Other antique artifacts in the tavern include a clock from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition and the front door that was in the entryway back in 1847.
> Bar name: Knickerbocker Saloon
> City: Lafayette
> Original bar founded: 1835
Although it opened its doors in 1835 as the Cherry Wood Bar of the Lahr Luxury Hotel, it became the Knickerbocker Saloon in 1874. It was named for the automatic Knickerbocker piano, which provided the entertainment. The current bar, which is made of walnut with an inch-thick cherry veneer, replaced the original bar in 1891.
> Bar name: Breitbach’s Country Dining
> City: Sherrill
> Original bar founded: 1852
President Millard Fillmore issued the federal permit allowing the bar to open in 1852. Since Jacob Brietbach purchased the bar and restaurant in 1862, it has been passed down through six generations. Fires burned the building to the ground — twice in the span of 10 months in 2007 and 2008. However, the bar was rebuilt and remains a popular spot.
> Bar name: Hays House Restaurant and Tavern
> City: Council Grove
> Original bar founded: 1857
Ten years after he was the first European settler in Council Grove, Seth M. Hays, a great-grandson of Daniel Boone, established the Hays House. Built on the Santa Fe Trail, the building was mixed use in the 1800s, serving as a court house, post office, and holding church services in addition to being a bar, restaurant, and trading post. The original bar can still be found in the cellar, which is sometimes opened for special occasions.
> Bar name: The Old Talbott Tavern
> City: Bardstown
> Original bar founded: 1779
The Old Talbott Tavern is known as the oldest stagecoach stop west of the Allegheny Mountains. The original eastern end of the building has 2 feet-thick stone walls. Since opening, the tavern has attracted many celebrated visitors, including Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Abraham Lincoln, the exiled King Louis Philippe of France, Jesse James, and General George Patton.
> Bar name: Old Absinthe House
> City: New Orleans
> Original bar founded: 1870
This more than 200-years-old building became a regular drinking establishment in 1870. It was renamed “The Absinthe Room” in 1874 thanks to its new specialty, the Absinthe House Frappe, created by mixologist Cayetano Ferrer. Located on Bourbon Street, the bar had to use a substitute for its most famous concoction from 1912 to 2007, when absinthe was illegal in the U.S.
> Bar name: Jameson’s Tavern
> City: Freeport
> Original bar founded: 1801
Originally a private residence, the home was purchased in 1801 by Captain Samuel Jameson. Jameson’s widow sold the establishment to Richard Codman in 1828. Codman’s Tavern remained in business until 1856. A bronze plaque on a granite marker outside the tavern proclaims it and Freeport to be the “birthplace of the state of Maine.” The tavern reopened in 1982 and is located next to L.L. Bean’s main store.
> Bar name: Middleton Tavern
> City: Annapolis
> Original bar founded: 1750
Horatio Middleton, who purchased the building in 1750 and also operated a ferry that connected Annapolis to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, opened the Middleton Tavern as an “Inn for Seafaring Men.” Among the early patrons were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. James Monroe is reported to have visited the tavern in 1818 while he was president.
> Bar name: Warren Tavern
> City: Charlestown
> Original bar founded: 1780
The Warren Tavern is named in honor of Dr. Joseph Warren, who directed Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming to arrest them in 1775. Among the tavern’s famous patrons are George Washington, who stopped by while in Charlestown, and Paul Revere, who was a regular.
> Bar name: Old Tavern Inn
> City: Niles
> Original bar founded: 1835
Located in the village of Sumnerville, the Old Tavern Inn originally served those along the stagecoach route between Chicago and Detroit. It opened two years before Michigan became a state. The Old Tavern Inn has been recognized as the “oldest business in Michigan” by the State Historical Society and the State Chamber of Commerce.
> Bar name: Neumann’s Bar & Grill
> City: North St. Paul
> Original bar founded: 1887
Neumann’s Bar & Grill predates the city it’s located in. When it was established by Bill Neumann to serve the beer made next door by Hamm’s Brewery, the settlement was called Castle (it changed to North Saint Paul later in 1887). A small pond that is home to frogs was built into the front window vestibule around 1930 and remains to this day.
> Bar name: King’s Tavern
> City: Natchez
> Original bar founded: 1789
The oldest standing building in Natchez, in addition to hosting King’s Tavern, served as a stagecoach stop and a mail station. Named for Richard King, who also had an inn in the building, it became a private residence in 1821 and did not reopen as a drinking establishment until the 1970s.
> Bar name: J. Huston Tavern
> City: Arrow Rock
> Original bar founded: 1834
The J. Huston Tavern is located at Arrow Rock State Historic Site. The two-story red brick establishment, in Federal-style architecture, was built by Joseph Huston, Sr., an early Arrow Rock settler. The tavern is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
> Bar name: Bale of Hay Saloon
> City: Virginia City
> Original bar founded: 1863
The Bale of Hay Saloon, which was once a brothel for Virginia City’s mining community, now hosts an annual Brothel Days festival. With a population of only 200, Virginia City is dependent on seasonal tourism, so the saloon is only open from May until September. It features old furniture and fixtures, including a giant hand-carved mahogany bar.
> Bar name: Glur’s Tavern
> City: Columbus
> Original bar founded: 1876
It was originally called Bucher’s Saloon after owners William and Joseph Bucher, immigrants from Switzerland. Louis Glur began working at Bucher’s as a 17-year-old bartender, and in 1914, at age 28, he bought the place and renamed it Glur’s Tavern. The tavern was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
> Bar name: Genoa Bar
> City: Genoa
> Original bar founded: 1853
Originally known as Livingston’s Exchange and then Fettic’s Exchange, the bar still features many of the original elements, including the diamond-dust mirror behind the bar, which came from Glasgow, Scotland in the 1840s. Among those who have had a drink here are Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and Raquel Welch, who left behind a black leopard-print bra that still hangs from the rafters.
29. New Hampshire
> Bar name: The Hancock Inn
> City: Hancock
> Original bar founded: 1789
Established by Noah Wheeler, there is no record of the inn and tavern’s original name. It was known as the Fox Tavern after Wheeler’s son-in-law, Jedediah Fox, took over. It has also been called the Hancock Hotel, Jefferson Tavern, and the Hancock House. In the early 1800s, future President Franklin Pierce was a frequent guest.
30. New Jersey
> Bar name: The Barnsboro Inn
> City: Sewell
> Original bar founded: 1776
Originally built as a log cabin in 1720, Gloucester’s County Court issued a license in March 1776 allowing John Barnes to make his residence a tavern. Over the years it’s also been known as Spread Eagle and the Crooked Billet Inn. The Barnsboro Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings 1973.
31. New Mexico
> Bar name: El Patio Cantina
> City: Mesilla
> Original bar founded: 1934
El Patio Cantina was established in 1934, just after Prohibition ended, in a building that has seen more than its fair share of history. It reportedly dates back to the mid-19th century and was owned by Albert Jennings Fountain, a Civil War veteran and lawyer whose most famous client was Billy the Kid. As well as El Patio Cantina, it has housed the Butterfield Overland Mail, the Mesilla Times, and even a post office.
32. New York
> Bar name: The Old ‘76 House
> City: Tappan
> Original bar founded: 1755
The building that houses the Old ‘76 House dates back to 1668. Known as Mabie’s Inn, during the American Revolution and the nation’s early years it hosted George Washington and many Continental Army generals. In 1780, it was where British spy John Andre, who plotted with Benedict Arnold, was confined before his execution.
33. North Carolina
> Bar name: Tavern
> City: Salem
> Original bar founded: 1784
The Tavern in Salem dates back to 1784 and an annex was added in 1816. It houses a restaurant that serves dishes inspired by the local Moravian community, as well as craft beers, wine, and mixed drinks. Famous visitors include George Washington, who spent two nights there in 1791. The Tavern was designated a National Historic Monument in 1964.
34. North Dakota
> Bar name: Peacock Alley American Grill and Bar
> City: Bismarck
> Original bar founded: 1933
Located in what was the lobby of the Patterson Hotel, Peacock Alley American Grill and Bar opened when Prohibition ended. The hotel has since been converted into senior housing, but the bar remains. The Peacock Alley still has the original Herman Kretz vintage decor, and the scroll decoration around the door area inspired the bar’s name.
> Bar name: Spread Eagle Tavern
> City: Hanoverton
> Original bar founded: 1837
The three-story building that houses Spread Eagle Tavern is considered a good example of Federal Period architecture. One of the legends surrounding the tavern is that Abraham Lincoln paid is a visit in 1864. It was also a stop on the Underground Railroad.
> Bar name: Eischen’s Bar
> City: Okarche
> Original bar founded: 1896
Originally called Eischen’s Saloon by owner Peter Eischen, it opened 11 years before Oklahoma became a state. The bar took its current name after Prohibition ended, when Peter’s son Nick and grandson Jack reopened the tavern. The bar burnt to the ground in January 1993 but was rebuilt and reopened in August 1993.
> Bar name: Huber’s
> City: Portland
> Original bar founded: 1879
Huber’s was established as The Bureau Saloon in 1879 and renamed when it was acquired by Frank Huber. It has been run by the Louie family for three generations. During Prohibition, it survived as a restaurant that specializes in turkey dinners. Today, its signature drink is a Spanish Coffee that includes Kahlua. The drink is so popular that Huber’s is one of the largest users of Kahlua in the United States.
> Bar name: King George II Inn
> City: Bristol
> Original bar founded: 1681
An establishment originally founded in 1681, the bar now holds the title as the state’s oldest watering hole — King George II Inn. Its founder, Samuel Clift, was granted 262 acres along the Delaware River by New York’s governor Edmund Andros, on the condition that he build a river ferry and a pub. It is so old, the Inn’s website claims George Washington slept there on his way to his first military commission.
39. Rhode Island
> Bar name: White Horse Tavern
> City: Newport
> Original bar founded: 1673
Housed in a building that was originally constructed in 1652, the White Horse Tavern was established in 1673 and is purported to be America’s oldest bar. Not everyone was literate back then, and a white horse signified a tavern. Today, it has an extensive menu that includes local seafood and farm produce. While some of the entrants on our list proudly consider themselves dive bars, the White Horse Tavern has a dress code that stipulates “Country Club” or “Business Casual.”
40. South Carolina
> Bar name: McCrady’s
> City: Charleston
> Original bar founded: 1778
South Carolina’s oldest bar was founded by Edward McCrady in 1778. His home was a meeting place for notables before and during the American Revolution, and he was imprisoned by the British. After the war, McCrady established the tavern and it quickly became a local favorite — it hosted a banquet for George Washington in 1791. The building has had a number of uses over the years and was even derelict for a while, but it was restored in 1982 and designated a National Historic Landmark.
41. South Dakota
> Bar name: Buffalo Bodega Bar
> City: Deadwood
> Original bar founded: 1877
The Buffalo Bodega Bar was established by Mike Russell in 1877 and named for his friend Buffalo Bill Cody. Deadwood was never short of bars or other forms of entertainment, but Buffalo Bar has stood the test of time. Today, it is part of a complex that offers dining, gaming, and live entertainment.
> Bar name: Springwater Supper Club
> City: Nashville
> Original bar founded: 1896
Once a dive bar, always a dive bar. Though the bar has been known as the Springwater Supper Club only since 1978, it’s been serving drinks since 1896. One year later, it was serving drinks during the Tennessee Centennial and International Expo in 1897. During Prohibition it was a speakeasy and Al Capone and Jimmy Hoffa are known to have gambled there.
> Bar name: Scholz Garten
> City: Austin
> Original bar founded: 1866
The Scholz Garten claims to be the oldest continually operated biergarten in the United States.
Founded in 1866, it’s even older than Germany, which was not unified until 1871. Not surprisingly, it has an extensive beer menu with a choice of German drafts. Located in the heart of the state capital, Austin, it’s popular with local politicians and hosts fundraisers and other political events.
> Bar name: Shooting Star Saloon
> City: Huntsville
> Original bar founded: 1879
The Shooting Star Saloon isn’t just Utah’s oldest bar, it’s the state’s oldest business. Another distinction is Buck, a dog whose head is mounted on the wall of the Shooting Star. Buck was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest St. Bernard, weighing 298 pounds.
> Bar name: Ye Olde Tavern
> City: Manchester
> Original bar founded: 1790
Ye Olde Tavern was built in 1790, when it was known as The Stagecoach Inn, and has gone through a number of name changes, uses, and owners since. It boasted the first phone line in Manchester, but is still proud of its uneven floors, slanting doorways, and antique furnishings.
> Bar name: The Tavern
> City: Abingdon
> Original bar founded: 1779
Founded in 1779, The Tavern has had various functions over the years. It served as a hospital for Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War. It also housed a post office, and still features the original mail slot. As an inn, guests included Andrew Jackson, King Louis Philippe of France, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant, designer of Washington D.C.
> Bar name: The Brick Saloon
> City: Roslyn
> Original bar founded: 1889
Nine years after opening, the tavern was rebuilt with 45,000 bricks and was renamed after the building material. The TV series “Northern Exposure” was filmed in Roslyn, and many scenes were filmed at The Brick as well. The bar features a 23-foot long running water spittoon.
48. West Virginia
> Bar name: Three Gables Club
> City: Hilltop
> Original bar founded: 1935
Despite its name, the Three Gables Club doesn’t require membership. It has been run by the same family for decades. It serves dinner at the weekends and is known for its steaks.
> Bar name: The Uptowner
> City: Milwaukee
> Original bar founded: 1884
The Uptowner was originally founded in 1884 as the Barnet Kozlowski Saloon. In 1891, it contracted with the local Schlitz Brewing Company to operate as a “Tied House,” selling only Schlitz beer. It was renamed The Uptowner in 1952 and also nicknamed the “Home of the Beautiful People.”
> Bar name: Miner’s and Stockmen’s Steakhouse
> City: Hartville
> Original bar founded: 1862
Miner’s and Stockmen’s Steakhouse is the oldest bar in Wyoming, and Hartville is the oldest incorporated town in the state. Hartville’s days as a mining boom town are long gone though — today the town has a population of only a few dozen. However, Miner’s boasts that people travel from the neighboring states of Colorado and Nebraska to enjoy its steaks. It also boasts a menu with 35 different whiskeys.
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