The true story of the historic Irish bar where generations of celebrities and everyday citizens have raised a glass.
It’s been a beloved watering hole for Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Rocky Marciano, and Buddy Holly (not to mention fictional characters like Don Draper). Nat King Cole pronounced its bacon cheeseburger “the Cadillac of burgers”—and the New York Times labeled P.J. Clarke’s “the Vatican of saloons.”
Established in 1884 and bought in 1904 by Patrick “Paddy” Joseph Clarke, this Irish saloon in a beautiful Victorian building on the corner of Third Avenue and Fifty-Fifth Street has captivated generations of New Yorkers—from the working class to entertainers, athletes, business executives, and members of high society. Here, finally, is the story of this famed saloon and the immigrant family that lived above it. Over P.J. Clarke’s Bar tells how the establishment survived through the Prohibition era as well as the pressures of development and financial struggles. It’s filled with anecdotes—such as when Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman announced their impending nuptials to an astonished crowd; Johnny Mercer penned “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” on a napkin; and Sinatra became the “owner” of table twenty. Written by the former owner’s grandniece, it also shares vivid personal memories, including walking in through the “ladies’ entrance” and watching thirsty customers taking buckets of beer from the “to-go” window.
This is at once a fascinating history of a family business and a nostalgic look at Manhattan in decades gone by.