Though it’s not one of the oldest bars in the city, Nancy Whiskey Pub (1 Lispenard St.) is turning 50. Having opened in 1967, it was long-ago name-checked by T Magazine for its randomness factor — “shuffleboard + frozen pizza = fun”— and celebrated as the city’s only shuffleboard table with padded bumpers along the sides: Amateurs need not apply.
An employee there since 1972, Bill Wall bought the place in 1985. Since this purchase, he’s also bought two properties, now called Saluggi’s, the original on Church and, more recently, 399 Grand St., which opened last year.
Nancy Whiskey is gathering memorabilia to celebrate its anniversary, says Facebook, and while it’s not as old as Old Town Bar in the Flatiron (1892), White Horse Tavern in the West Village (1880), or its neighbor, the Ear Inn (1817), at one point it was considered “a sanctuary” David Wondrich wrote in Esquire:
Lower Manhattan once had dozens of bars like this--gruff joints where you could sink a couple of beers and a whiskey or two alongside the regulars without fear of harassment as long as you kept things low to the ground. Now, though, except for one or two places around Wall Street, downtown bars are all cocktail list and design. That makes the Nancy Whiskey a holdout, and a sanctuary.
Other dive bars that have closed as of late include Winnie’s in Chinatown, which is poised for a comeback; Subway Inn, which, in 2015, moved a few blocks from its original location for 77 years, and Milady’s, the SoHo bar that closed in 2014.
Back in 2014, Eater NY listed chefs’ favorite dive bars on this map. Remarkably, most of them are still open.