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Plan a road trip to visit the oldest bars state by state

Written By | Feb 22, 2022
Bars, America, States, Oldest

WASHINGTON: Did you ever wonder where the oldest bars were in every state? Or who may have sat in your spot and the impact they had on America’s growth. Every state has its historic bar where our forefathers and ancestors took a break to have a local brew. (Beer & American History) The earliest bars where places where information was shared.  And surveillance was conducted.  In fact, the term cocktail comes from Revolutionary times.  When the bartender thought a patron was a “British spy” he would put a rooster, or cock, feather in his drink.  Thus alerting others to be careful of their tongues. 

After stumbling onto two of America’s legacy taverns, one in Wisconsin and one in Iowa, I began to wonder where America’s oldest bars are found?  So I started looking, state by state:

ALABAMA

The Peerless Saloon  — Mobile (Est. 1899)

Robert E. Garner was a philanthropist who bought Old Wildcat Whisky by the barrel and sold it at the Peerless in bottles from his very own glass factory. The Saloon sat empty for a few years but after being registered as a historic building on the National Registry of Historic Buildings, it reopened in 1992, with its vintage ambiance preserved and restored remarkably well.

ALASKA

B&B Bar — Kodiak (Est. 1906)

While the bar posts one of the oldest original liquor licenses in the country, 1906, one may say this bar actually has been around since the late 1800’s. The bar is in a little frame building offering respite from the cold.




ARIZONA

The Place — Prescott (Est. 1877 or 1864)

An example of an authentic old west-style saloon is found in The Palace. With roots back to 1864, a gold inscription on the front window dates the bar back to 1877. The current owners say the later date was the result of faulty research. A fire in 1900 engulfed the street known as “Whiskey Row” destroying the original building – but loyal patrons rescued the hand-carved bar you can still sidle on up to today.

ARKANSAS

The Ohio Club — Hot Springs (Est. 1905)

Some big names have visited this historic bar. Al Capone, Bugsy Segel, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, just to name a few of the gangsters that stopped by. Many Major League Ballplayers also visited this local watering hole during early 1900s spring training. Babe Ruth was the most famous ballplayer to visit. It was said to be a bookie joint frequently visited by the police as well.

CALIFORNIA

The Iron Door Saloon – Groveland, (Est. 1852)

A few miles down the road from Yosemite National Forest is The Iron Door Saloon. It is billed as California’s oldest continuously operating bar. It is said to have served gold prospectors, loggers, and workers for 170 years now. As soon as you see it, you sense you are seeing something very old and very original.

COLORADO

The Buffalo Rose Saloon — Golden (Est. 1858)

The International Bowling Saloon was established on property that is the present-day Buffalo Rose Saloon. This makes The Buffalo Rose the oldest bar in the state of Colorado. The original saloon was a 2-story clapboard building. But proprietor Gustavus Haas removed the second floor in the 1880s to install a grand orchestrion (think of it as an early jukebox) to offer patrons music.

CONNECTICUT

Griswold Inn Tap — Essex (Est. 1776)

The Griswold Inn Tap Room is one of the oldest continually operating inns and taverns in the nation. The Tap Room is located on the Connecticut River in the town of Essex where it began as a place for thirsty travelers and shipbuilders. The inn would serve as a British command center during the War of 1812. It also was a filming locale for the 70’s TV show “Dark Shadows”.

DELAWARE

Jessop’s Tavern — New Castle (Est. 1724)



America’s second-oldest bar dates back to a building originally built in 1674. A cooper, or barrel maker, Abraham Jessop lived and worked dating back to 1724. The current owners channel the founders as they offer meals from the Dutch, English, and Swedish people who first landed here and a very large selection of Belgian beers.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

The Old Ebbitt Grill — Washington, D.C. (Est. 1856)

While this bar is widely accepted as D.C.’s oldest bar, it has moved around town a bit. It once stood on F Street before that Old Ebbitt was demolished for an even grander drinking club in the National Press Building. US Presidents of tipped a few here. Names dropped include Presidents William McKinley, Ulysses Grant, Andrew Jackson, and Warren Harding.

FLORIDA

The Palace Saloon — Fernandina Beach (Est. 1903)

In 1903 Fernandina Beach near Jacksonville was a major rail and seaport in need of a bar. Louis G. Hirth bought the Prescott building in 1903. Originally constructed as a haberdashery in 1878, Hirth replaced the shoes with booze and named it the Palace Saloon.

GEORGIA

The Pirate’s House — Savannah (Est. 1753)

Built as an inn for sailors in Georgia’s main port city, The Pirate’s House soon logically added a saloon. Georgia’s oldest bar is located in one of the most historic spots in Georgia. It is here the first public agricultural experimental garden in America was located as well. Trustee’s Garden was also founded in 1753.

HAWAII

Smith’s Union Bar — Honolulu (Est. 1934)

Back when Hotel Street was Honolulu’s red-light district, this bar opened for sailors and merchants to have a drink. Joe Holley opened Smith’s Union Bar which is also known as Smitty’s. Holley served whiskey and entertainment to the sailors of Pearl Harbor.

IDAHO

The White Horse Saloon  — Spirit Lake (Est. 1907)

This saloon was established in the same year the town was plotted and has been in continuous operation ever since. The White Horse Saloon shows its original hardwood floors and there are still eight rooms upstairs in which patrons can crash to avoid driving buzzed or drunk. Room number 2 is rumored to be haunted.

ILLINOIS

The Village Tavern — Long Grove (Est. 1847)

The Village Tavern just outside Chicago is the oldest tavern/restaurant in continuous operation in Illinois. A family-owned and operated bar in Long Grove notes their piece of history is a 35-foot mahogany bar from the original McCormick Place. The bar was one of the few things to survive the 1967 fire that took down the original convention center on the lakefront in Chicago.

INDIANA

The Knickerbocker Saloon — Lafayette (Est. 1835)

Indiana’s oldest bar The Knickerbocker Saloon has stories to tell. Some of the famous people to cross the threshold of this bar include President Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Al Capone, and Neil Armstrong. Reading the liquor license displayed on the wall if you’re a history buff, that liquor license was the first one issued in Indiana.

IOWA

Breitbach’s Country Dining — Sherrill (Est. 1852)

This bar opened in 1852 by a federal permit issued from President Millard Fillmore to Jacob Breitbach, the great-great-grandfather of the present owner. This qualifies it as Iowa’s oldest food and drinking establishment. This business was decimated by two fires in a year and a half but in 2008 people literally bussed themselves from all over the Midwest to get the BCD rebuilt for the Breitbach family.

KANSAS

Hays House — Council Grove (Est. 1857)

Not only the longest-standing liquor serving establishment in the state, but Hays House also claims to be the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi. Founded by the great-grandson of Daniel Boone, what he began is still here with large portions of both restaurant and bar intact. However, no one has stayed overnight upstairs since the 1940s.

KENTUCKY

Talbott Tavern — Bardstown (Est. 1779)

The Old Talbott Tavern is known as the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. Abraham Lincoln, Jesse James, and Daniel Boone are some of the more recognizable names known to partake in the devil’s nectar here. Talbott Tavern is also known as the oldest bourbon bar in America, and still displays several bullet holes courtesy of Mr. James.

LOUISIANA

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop — New Orleans (Est. 1722)

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is one of the oldest buildings in America, and the oldest building being used as a bar in the country. The architecture is old French Provincial Louis XV or Briquette-Entre-Poteauxe style used in French Louisiana. It sits at the end of the tourist trap known as Bourbon Street.

MAINE

Jameson Tavern — Freeport (Est. 1779)

Jameson Tavern, not related to Jameson whiskey, began the role as a local inn known as Codman’s Tavern in 1828. John Cushing, a local shipbuilder, bought the house and land in 1856. Cushing’s family lived in the home until about 1901 when it was bought by Captain Samuel Jameson. A plaque at this establishment notes in 1820 citizens of the Province of Maine signed papers seeking independence from Massachusetts making it “The Birthplace of Maine”.

MARYLAND

Reynolds Tavern — Annapolis (Est. 1747)

William Reynolds was a hatter and dry goods salesman. He constructed the building to hold his hat business, rental rooms, and an “ordinary” (a.k.a. tavern). Reynolds served hot and cold food and liquor to visitors. The “Beaver and Lac’d Hat,” as the tavern was originally known, was said to provide a meeting place for farmers, gentlemen, merchants, and soldiers. The tavern still operates as an authentic inn where 3 rooms can be had by the night.

MASSACHUSETTS

Warren Tavern — Charlestown (Est. 1780)

Doctor Joseph Warren attended Harvard University and practiced medicine in Boston. Dr. Warren sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on their messenger rides to Lexington on the evening of April 18, 1775. Dr. Warren was appointed a Major General just a few days prior to the Battle of Bunker Hill. The Warren Tavern hosted historic patrons such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Paul Revere. Dr. Warren died in battle at the Battle of Breeds Hill.

MICHIGAN

The Hudson Inn — New Hudson (Est. 1831)

Russell Alvord of Monroe County, New York, sought out President Andrew Jackson for a grant of 40 acres of land in the Northwest Territory in 1830. He obtained a deed with President Jackson’s signature with which he opened “The Old Tavern” inn in 1831. Michigan was not yet a state when the “Old Tavern” opened its doors. Alvord’s establishment served as a changing point for travelers and businessmen on the stagecoach line called the New Hudson Station which explains the name change.

MINNESOTA

Neumann’s Bar — North St. Paul (Est. 1887)

Bill Neumann founded Neumann’s Bar in 1887 to serve Hamm’s beer to a rapidly growing community of North St. Paul. Hamm’s Brewery helped put Bill into business providing him with a back bar that still serves as the centerpiece of Minnesota’s oldest saloon. If that is not good enough for you, around 1930 or so Bill’s son Jim added what would become Neumann’s signature trademark to the saloon – a small pond of frogs in the front window vestibule.

MISSISSIPPI

Kings Tavern — Natchez (Est. 1769)

This tavern is believed to be haunted by several ghosts. In the 1930s the skeletal remains of three bodies were found in the wall behind the fireplace. Also found was a jeweled dagger believed to be the weapon of their murders. The bodies were believed to be that of Madeline, the mistress of one of the tavern’s original owners, and two other men.

MISSOURI

O’Malley’s Pub — Weston (Est. 1842)

In 1842 John Georgian founded the Weston Brewing Company. Back in the day, breweries operated along river banks utilizing natural cave formations and ice from the rivers to create ideal brewing and storage conditions. O’Malley’s Pub is an authentic Irish pub that was a part of Weston Brewing Company. To this day you can enjoy a pint of suds 50 feet underground.

MONTANA

Bale of Hay Saloon — Virginia City (Est. 1863)

It is said this building was originally a grocery and liquor store but by 1890 it had been converted into a saloon. It is widely regarded as one of the oldest buildings in the state. This bar changed hands a bunch and even sat empty from about 1908 to 1845 but today it is an attraction with a giant mahogany bar that the original owners had hand-carved in Cincinnati. The 1970 movie “Little Big Man” had several scenes filmed here.

NEBRASKA

Glur’s Tavern — Columbus (Est. 1876)

This establishment originated as the Bucher Saloon of Swiss Immigrant brothers William and Joseph Bucher. In 1914 it was renamed Glur’s Tavern after Louis Glur took over as proprietor. This establishment bills itself as the oldest continuously operated tavern west of the Missouri River. It was said to have been frequented by William “Buffalo Bill” Cody in the late 1800s.

NEVADA

Genoa Bar — Genoa (Est. 1853)

Besides its history, the most impressive thing about this place is the celebrities who have visited here; Mark Twain, Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, Carol Lombard, Clark Gable, Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, Ronnie Howard, Red Skelton, Cliff Robertson and Raquel Welch. And as for music people; Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Slim Pickens, John Denver, Toby Keith and the Captain and Tennille to name a few. When Raquel Welch visited she left her bra.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

The Hancock Inn — Hancock (Est. 1789)

This colonial landmark inn is the oldest in New Hampshire, and a favorite watering hole of the only president to ever come from the state was, Franklin Pierce. The Inn’s Fox Tavern continues to serve drinks and meals to small groups of visitors, inn guests and passers-through.

NEW JERSEY

Barnsboro Inn — Sewell (Est. 1720)

In 1720 John Budd built his log cabin at the edge of a pine forest inhabited by Indians and bears. Situated atop the highest ground of the area, the inn commands a view of the wooded countryside. On March 19, 1776, John Barnes petitioned to license his house as a tavern. Not only did Barnes get a tavern license it has kept its license under a succession of owners ever since.

NEW MEXICO

El Farol – Santa Fe (Est. 1835)

Many do not know Santa Fe is the oldest state capital in the country (1607) as well as the highest at 7,000 feet above sea level. It should come as no surprise that the oldest restaurant in New Mexico is located in this city as well. El Farol which means “warmth or light” in Spanish as used in this name for a Spanish tapas restaurant. Legend holds this building was originally owned by Billy the Kid’s lawyer, A.J. Fountain, and has been passed down through his family since the 1880s.

NEW YORK

The Old ’76 House — Tappan (Est. 1755)

In 1753, Casparus Mabie bought land from Cornelis Myers. The following year Mabie built a house on this land on what was to become Main Street in Tappan. He included a space for a tavern, probably no more than a few tables and benches in a corner of the front room. Legend holds the ’76 House was used during the American Revolutionary War as a meeting place for local Patriots. George Washington is said to have regularly dined here.

NORTH CAROLINA

Antlers Bar — Blowing Rock (Est. 1932)

Since The Tavern (dating back to 1784) was permanently closed in Salem in 2019, the Antlers Bar now takes its place. It is now combined with the Bistro Roca but has assumed the title rights to be deemed the oldest continuously serving bar in the state. Antlers Bar offers an amazing collection of local pet photographs spanning 15 years all over the walls.

NORTH DAKOTA

Peacock Alley — Bismarck (Est. 1933)

Peacock Alley is located in North Dakota’s state capital. It was located in what used to be the 1911 era Patterson Hotel right in the heart of downtown Bismarck 22 years after the hotel opened. That hotel has since been converted to a senior living center. Before that conversion, Peacock Alley hosted such famous patrons as boxer Joe Louis, as well as Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson, to name but a few.

OHIO

Ye Olde Trail Tavern – Yellow Springs (Est. 1827)

William Mills built this 1827 cabin-style tavern with his son Elisha. The cabin-style structure was of hand-hewn logs that remain in the rear portion of the building. It was the only structure in Yellow Springs back in the day. It was first known as Elisha’s Tavern.

OKLAHOMA

Eischen’s Bar — Okarche (Est. 1896)

Eischen’s Saloon was established by Peter Eischen, remaining open until Statehood and Prohibition. This establishment reopened thereafter Prohibition ended as Eischen’s Bar by Nick & Jack Eischen, son, and grandson of Peter Eischen. A massive back bar is a vital part of the history of Eischen’s. It was hand-carved in Spain in the early 1800s and shipped to California during the Gold Rush. It was lost in time until it was brought to Okarche in 1950 to adorn Eischen’s.

OREGON

Huber’s — Portland (Est. 1879)

Huber’s was established in 1879 as the Bureau Saloon. However, it was renamed when Jim Huber bought the saloon in 1891. Huber hired a chef and gave away a free turkey sandwich with every drink ordered. Many felt it was the famous Huber turkey sandwiches that kept the place alive during Prohibition. Today it is now located at its 4th location since its inception, the historic Oregon Pioneer Building.

PENNSYLVANIA

Revere Tavern — Paradise (Est. 1740)

The Broad Axe Tavern established in 1681 closed its doors in 2019 making way for a new bar to be titled the oldest in this state. Revere Tavern is unusual as it is a stone building which was built as “Sign of the Spread Eagle” a stagecoach inn along the 62 miles of trail stretching from Philadelphia to Lancaster. In 1854 James Buchanan, the Fifteenth President of the United States, purchased the inn.

RHODE ISLAND

The White Horse Tavern — Newport (Est. 1673)

William Mayes Sr. saw the commercial possibilities of this building and purchased it. In those early days, a liquor license was not required but Mayes officially obtained a tavern license in 1687. His son, William Mayes, Jr., once a pirate of the Red Sea, also helped run the tavern. This criminal would return to Newport with his bounty both welcomed and protected by the townspeople. In 1702 William Jr. inherited the tavern. British authorities, not so forgiving, arrested William Jr. leaving the tavern operation to William’s sister, Mary Mayes Nichols, and husband, Robert. It is listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places as the oldest restaurant in the country.

SOUTH CAROLINA

McCrady’s Tavern — Charleston (Est. 1778)

McCrady’s Tavern and Long Room, as it was originally known as a long room completed in 1788 which was used for theatrical performances and banquets by the city’s elite. It is the last of its kind in Charleston and perhaps the state and nation. McCrady’s Tavern was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 both for its architectural and political significance. Legend holds President George Washington once enjoyed a 30-course dinner here in 1791!

SOUTH DAKOTA

Buffalo Bodega Bar — Deadwood (Est. 1877)

Originally known in 1877 as simply the Buffalo Bar today is known as the Buffalo Bodega Complex. Back in the day, this bar became the 18th saloon in deadwood. This bar took its name after Buffalo Bill Cody, a close friend of original owner Mike Russell. These days you can still drink and gamble here and get a room at the Bullock Hotel upstairs but the prostitutes are long gone.

TENNESSEE

Springwater Supper Club — Nashville (Est. 1896)

This establishment proudly bills itself as “the oldest continuously open and operational bar in the great state of Tennessee.” Originally it opened as the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, most probably the longest name ever given to a bar. The Chicago mobster Al Capone is said to have been a patron of this place which he loved very much.

TEXAS

Scholz Garten — Austin (Est. 1866)

A German immigrant and Civil War veteran August Scholz opened this bar and cafe over an old boarding house. Soon thereafter Scholz Garten became a favorite gathering place for the German population in and around Austin. To this day the menu has a combination of American and German meals. Not surprisingly it is known for its schnitzel.

UTAH

Shooting Star Saloon — Huntsville (Est. 1879)

Founded among Brigham Young’s non-drinking followers this seems an unlikely place for such a historical bar. The bar is the oldest continuously operating bar in the state and some say the oldest continuously operating west of the Mississippi. In a bar that only accepts cash and has a coin-operated 45 records jukebox the late 1800s cash register on the bar makes perfect sense. Each piece of memorabilia, from dollars on the ceiling to stuffed animals on the walls, offers a story of its own.

VIRGINIA

The Tavern — Abingdon (Est. 1779)

The Tavern has been many things over time a; tavern, bank, bakery, general store, cabinet shop, barbershop, private residence, post office, antique shop, and restaurant. Legend holds it even served as a hospital for both wounded Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War. The Tavern is home to the oldest bar in Virginia and is one of the oldest in the United States. As an inn, it hosted President Andrew Jackson, King Louis Philippe of France, Henry Clay, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant, designer of Washington D.C.

VERMONT

Ye Olde Tavern — Manchester (Est. 1790)

Built by Dorset Master Builder Aaron Sheldon this establishment was originally named the Stagecoach Inn. This place might best be known for its architectural history such as the spring floor in its 3rd-floor ballroom and the high square columns of its porch to the being first building in Manchester to have a telephone. While it has been renovated to be safe for the public, it still offers signs of its colonial birth from uneven floors to crooked doorways.

WASHINGTON

The Brick Saloon — Roslyn (Est. 1889)

In 1889 John Buffo and Peter Giovanni tavern was built, then rebuilt in 1898 using 45,000 bricks hence “The Brick Saloon”. The Dick Van Dyke movie “The Runner Stumbles (1979)  jail scenes were filmed here  . The ’90s TV show “Northern Exposure” bar scenes were filmed at the Brick Saloon.

WEST VIRGINIA

The North End Tavern – Parkersburg (Est. 1899)

They say the owner was a former professional wrestler, Bradford “Zip” Thorn. Thorn chose to become a businessman after an injury had left him with a peg leg, effectively ending his wrestling career.  The current owner, Joe Roedersheimer, also claims the title of the oldest microbrewery in West Virginia after adding his own spin to it in 1995.

WISCONSIN

East Troy House – East Troy (Est. 1838)

In 1838 Walworth County became an official county known as Walworth County of the Northwest Territory. That is the year East Troy House was licensed as an Inn and Tavern making it the oldest tavern in Wisconsin. This was ten years before Wisconsin would become our 30th state.

WYOMING

Miner’s and Stockmen’s Steakhouse — Hartville (Est. 1862)

With less than 100 residents, Hartville’s days as a mining boomtown are long gone. However, Miner’s and Stockmen’s Steakhouse has steaks and a variety of top-shelf whiskeys so good people travel from the neighboring states of Colorado and Nebraska to enjoy their fair. The back bar was hand carved in Germany.

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Read more from Mark Schwendau.

About the author:

Mark Schwendau is a conservative Christian patriot and retired technology professor (CAD-CAM and web development). He prides himself on his critical thinking ability. Schwendau has had a long sideline of newspaper editorial writing where he used the byline, “bringing little known facts to people who want to see the truth. Mark is on alternative free speech social media platforms after lifetime bans from Facebook and Twitter and shadow bans from Instagram and Fox News commenting.

His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech

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Mark Schwendau

Mark Schwendau is a Christian conservative patriot and retired technology professor (CAD-CAM and web development) who prides himself on his critical thinking ability. Schwendau has had a long sideline of newspaper editorial writing where he used the byline, “- bringing little known facts to people who simply want to know the truth.” Mark is on alternative free speech social media platforms after lifetime bans from Facebook and Twitter and shadow bans from Instagram and Fox News commenting. His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech