The Global Barfly’s Companion #1 by Kristin Maffei
Bar: White Horse Tavern
Location: 567 Hudson St, New York, NY
The White Horse Tavern was a favorite of the Welsh poet, who Robert Lowell once described as “a dazzling obscure writer who can be enjoyed without understanding.”
Why Writers Love It: This historic West Village tavern has been operating since 1880, and for the first half of its life was mostly popular with local longshoremen who would come in for a drink after their shifts ended. It began leaning literary in the 1950s, when beat writers starting imbibing, sometimes to excess, there.
Famous patrons include Norman Mailer, Delmore Schwartz, James Baldwin, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, and, most famously, Dylan Thomas, who spent his last conscious night on earth drinking here, before falling into a coma and dying of pneumonia on November 9, 1953.
The event solidified the White Horse’s status as a literary bar, and it has since become a bit a tourist spot, though it’s certainly still a fun place to grab a beer and bask in the old-fashioned ambiance.
Caveat Emptor: The bar staff is polite but brisk, and once put up a sign advising soccer-loving patrons not to take up too much space while nursing a single drink. Your humble correspondent had no trouble with this sort of thing on a weekday night after work, but it’s something to keep in mind for busier times.
Kristin Maffei is a poet and copywriter living in New York City. Her work has been featured in Works & Days, Mount Hope Journal, and Underwater New York. For more information, visit www.kristinmaffei.com.