white horse tavern

This post is more history than anything else, and its connection to Mad Men is tenuous–it is mentioned, but never seen, in a line of dialogue in a season 4 episode (“Where do you work? The White Horse Tavern?)–but it’s a very famous New York landmark in its own right. The White Horse Tavern, 567 Hudson Street in the West Village, is famous in literary history as one of the prime hangouts of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac used to drink here and was thrown out many times. The death of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in November 1953 is intimately connected with this place. Killer smog was keeping many New Yorkers indoors that week, and Thomas spent much of a day drinking here. He got back to his hotel, claiming he drank 18 glasses of whiskey here; then he collapsed of an alcohol overdose and died shortly thereafter.

Although the White Horse’s heyday was the early 1950s, where the Beats congregated here, it has operated as a bar on this spot since 1880. The neighborhood was much different then, and this was the kind of place that longshoremen would come to get drunk. The Greenwich Village area began to become “Bohemian,” attracting writers, artists and political leftists, in the early years of the 20th century. Now it’s one of the most gentrified areas of the city.

It’s never seen in Mad Men, yet somehow the White Horse Tavern made the top of the Mad Men blog’s list of “10 places to party like it’s 1965.” Notably, the original Benihana restaurant, which I also profiled in this blog series, is also on the list.

I tried to find a wine list for the White Horse Tavern online, but couldn’t. Evidently the place’s reputation has slipped in recent years and it now has mixed reviews from customers. I couldn’t see myself ordering a pinot noir here anyway, but it still seems like an interesting place.