Top 10 Irish Bars in the Country

Officially, St. Patrick's Day is an occasion to celebrate Irish culture. Realistically, it's an occasion for normally fairly sensible adults to uncork Jameson, dye their beer green, drop shots into Guinness, chug and repeat. All usually starting around 8 a.m.

Sure, we paint four-leaf clovers on our cheeks and solicit smooches for being (part) Celtic, but are we really honoring the heritage of The Emerald Isle? Answer: No. But, it's all in good fun and after all, stout is part of a balanced breakfast.

Here are some of the best Irish bars in America to give thanks to the patron saint of Ireland this year. Slainte!

McSorley's Old Ale House, 15 E. 7th St., New York, NY
Let's start in the home of the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in America: New York City. There's some debate about when McSorley's first opened, but the consensus is that it's old. Like 1860s old. Presidents such as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant have all knocked back pints at this historic watering hole that only opened its doors to women in 1970. There are only two options when it comes to beer — dark or light. And don't think about asking for WiFi, this place doesn't even have a working website. Old school.

Doyle's Café, 3484 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, MA
Located a little outside of the heart of Boston, Doyle's has gotten high praise from such disparate luminaries as Clint Eastwood and Time Russert. The bar was opened back in 1882 and has been featured in several films while also hosting local and national politicians. Ted Kennedy was on hand to dedicate one of the newer rooms to JFK. An added bonus is its proximity to the Sam Adams Brewery, which keeps it stocked with rare and experimental beers from the Boston stalwart.

Galway Arms, 2442 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL
In Chicago, they don't just dye their beers, opting to also turn green the Chicago River, which runs through the city. After you've watched the waters turn Kelly green, head to the Galway Arms for upscale pub fare and a healthy selection of beers. The building dates to 1883 and retains an intimate, traditional pub feel with various inviting alcoves to while away an afternoon.

Ale House 150 YearsASSOCIATED PRESS​

McGillin's Olde Ale House, 1310 Drury St., Philadelphia, PA
Philly loves St. Patrick's Day and has been throwing a parade since 1771. They even offer the Erin Express Pub Crawl, a free coach that takes you to 15 different Irish bars. One place not to miss is McGillin's which outlasted both the Civil War and Prohibition, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2010. Among the 30 beers on tap - including offerings from several regional craft breweries – you'll find O'Hara's Irish Stout (the only stout brewed exclusively in Ireland) and McGillin's Real Ale, Genuine Lager and 1860 IPA all brewed for the bar by Stoudt's.

Old Shillelagh, 349 Monroe St., Detroit, MI
Not much to look at from the outside, the Old Shillelagh opened in 1975 in an otherwise non-descript brick building in Greektown. With a green awning festooned with shamrocks, there's no mistaking the nature of this bar. There are three floors each with its own ambiance, the upper two often being venue to live music. There are a plethora of Michigan beers on tap along with a few selections from the motherland. Food is traditional pub fare at reasonable prices.

St. Patrick's @ Finn McCool's New Orleans 2010
Finn McCool's. Credit: Witty Name/Flickr​

Finn McCool's, 3701 Banks St., New Orleans, LA
New Orleans knows how to throw a party and just because they're known more for their Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest celebrations doesn't mean they don't come out for St. Patrick's Day. McCool's opened in 2002 in Mid City and was forced to close for six months in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But they came back strong being voted the city's Best Neighborhood Bar. They offer modern takes on Irish fare (Corned Beef Putine, anyone?) and a great selection of local beer.

The Plough and the Stars, 116 Clement St., San Francisco, CA
A drinking man's bar if there ever was one, the Plough serves up healthy pours of whiskey and imperial pints of Guinness in a warm, inviting atmosphere. There's no food, but there is traditional live music almost every night and all day happy hour and free pool on Tuesdays. With sidewalk seating and a deceivingly spacious interior, it has been voted the Best Irish Pub in town.

The Irish Rover Pub, 54 S. Broadway, Denver, CO
While the Rover might not be the oldest Irish bar in Denver, its popularity has necessitated several expansions over the last several years in the trendy Baker neighborhood. There are now multiple bar areas and a massive rooftop terrace overlooking Broadway. It's a neighborhood joint where the bartenders will remember your name after the first visit. The menu offers interesting Eire-infused options such as Irish Nachos and Irish Egg Rolls and brunch on the weekends (white pudding!). A bevy of Colorado craft beers and Irish whiskeys are served up along the joint's expansive oak bars.

IMG_0047St. Patrick's Day in Pittsburgh. Credit: ccs-pics/Flickr

Monterey Pub, 1227 Monterey St., Pittsburgh, PA
While a steel town might not evoke visions of clover-specked greenery, Pittsburgh has one of the largest and oldest celebrations in the country, dating to 1869. The place to be on St. Pat's is the Monterey Pub nestled among the tree-lined avenues of the historic Mexican War Streets. The menu compliments a frosty February day perfectly with rib-sticking classic offerings such as Bangers and Mash, Fish and Chips, Shepard's Pie and Boxty's, an Irish potato pancake of sorts. The drinks are stiff and the Guinness and Harp flow like water.

McGinleys' Golden Ace Inn, 2533 E. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN
The oldest Irish pub in Indianapolis, the McGinleys opened their namesake in 1934 and their St. Patrick's Day bash is one of the oldest continuous pub events in the nation. Traditional live music is their specialty and every Tuesday you'll witness a jam session similar to those found in Erin. While it might not be potato based, the iron skillet cooked cheeseburger is considered one of the best in town at a price that will have you wondering what decade you stepped back into.



Matt Sandy, a self-proclaimed "Beer Gadabout," moved to Denver in 2007 and immediately took up residency at the Great Divide taproom. Since then, he's enjoyed exploring all of the craft corners of this great town. He writes about beer for various publications.

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