"Writers spend all their time preoccupied with just the things
To a devoted McSorley’s customer, most other New York City saloons are tense and disquieting. It is possible to relax in McSorley’s. For one thing, it is dark and gloomy, and repose comes easy in a gloomy place. Also, the barely audible heartbeatlike ticking of the old clocks is soothing. Also, there is a thick, musty smell that acts as a balm to jerky nerves; it is really a rich compound of the smells of pine sawdust, tap drippings, pipe tobacco, coal smoke, and onions. A Bellevue interne once remarked that for some mental states the smell in McSorley’s would be a lot more beneficial than psychoanalysis or sedative pills or prayer.