Defining the qualities that make up a great Irish pub is a bit like trying to map a path to that elusive pot ‘o gold – you can feel it when you’re on the right track, but the signs for how you get there are never the same.
There are, of course, some obvious touchstones. A great beer list is generally regarded as a must – with a barkeep that knows how to pull a proper pint – and bonus points to the place that also boasts a solid list of Irish whiskeys. As for the look of the place, aside from the usual dark wood furnishings, it’s all those tiny details that contribute to bar feeling as though it has been lived in – right down to the regulars and barkeeps, each with their assigned places like pieces on a chessboard. Add to that, in certain cases, touches like TVs screening overseas football and rugby matches, or lives bands playing traditional tunes.
But most importantly, what counts in a great Irish bar is the atmosphere. Those pubs with that more or less intangible quality of a space that is at once cozy and raucous. They’re charming and homey, but with a fun-loving spirit and just the slightest ounce of attitude.
So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, here are 6 favorite Irish bars around the country.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House (Philadelphia)
There are plenty of great Irish bars in Philadelphia, but only this one can call itself the city’s oldest continually operating tavern. With the kind of old-school, no-frills charm that can only be achieved after 152 years in business, this place is no-brainer for cold beers (try their house brand Real Ale and Genuine Lager) and good times.
McSorley’s Old Ale House (New York City)
Ah, McSorley’s. With its sawdust-blanketed floors, vintage photo-lined walls, and thick garlands of dust icing nearly every inch of the space – it just has pints full of charm. And speaking of pints, here, at what is distinguished as New York’s oldest bar, there are only two choices of beverage: the light or dark house beer. This is definitely an institution everyone should experience at least once – and good luck not going back for more.
The Blackthorn Pub (Boston)
This South Boston bar is confident in asserting that it offers a “TRUE Irish pub experience without the fake ‘Irish props,'” and fans and regulars no doubt agree. With that old-school, worn-in feel and a solid selection of beers on draft (including Irish favorites like Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks), it’s simply a great place to grab a drink. Plus, they screen all the important Irish and U.K. sports games on their big-screen TVs.
The Grafton Pub (Chicago)
Consistently called out among the city’s best Irish pubs (in addition to the praise for its top-notch burger), The Grafton Pub boasts a craft beer list with some 70-plus selections and more than 20 Irish whiskeys. If that alone didn’t make for a stand-out Irish pub, tack onto that a friendly staff and regular live music performances.
Molly Malone’s (Los Angeles)
Even though the legendary Tom Bergin’s Tavern is still closed for renovations, that doesn’t mean Angelenos are lacking in options when it comes to Irish bars. This 40-year-old landmark is known for its great live music, featuring a wide range of local musicians nightly. A good place to grab a pint, the LA Times once wrote this about it: “The shelves are lined with books and, generally speaking, everything that isn’t made of wood is green – except for the beer, which is never green, even on St. Patrick’s Day.”
B.D. Riley’s (Austin, Texas)
This pub was named by Imbibe Magazine as one of the country’s best places to drink Guinness. The secret to their “perfect pint ‘o dark”? Spotless imperial glasses and the patience to allow the beer to settle into its two proper parts. The bar is adamant about not being a “cookie-cutter” pub, and much of the establishment’s design and furnishings were sourced directly from Ireland. And of course, this being Austin, there’s plenty of great music to add to the atmosphere.
Source: The Daily Meal, shine.yahoo.com