It’s St. Patrick’s Day once again, and we have a hankering for corned beef and cabbage, well-poured Guinness, and some old-fashioned pipe and fiddle music. This time of year, we all have a little Irish in us, but just like us, not all Irish pubs can claim true Emerald Isle authenticity. So, where do we go to chow down on the best shepherd’s pie, to hear a bona fide brogue, to kiss someone who’s actually Irish? What separates the shamrock-laden theme bars from the genuine article?
We’ve searched the nation over, and have discovered these pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. What were we looking for in making our judgments? Of course, a real Irish pub has to know how to pour a proper Guinness. For those not in the know, it takes a full two minutes to get the beer into the glass correctly, and requires your bartender to commit to several integral steps to achieve a perfect pint.
Next on the list is music, specifically Irish session music. Ideally, the bars on this list host Irish musicians throughout the year, but never let it be said that an Irish pub has to adhere strictly to all the old-world traditions. Many of these bars have listened to their patrons, and have expanded their musical offerings to include locally and nationally known rock bands, sometimes sacrificing the ubiquity of session players. While you may not always see a group of musicians with pipes, guitars, and hand drums playing old drinking songs at these bars, most all of them have some good music to hear on a regular basis.
Finally, history is of huge importance to codifying the authenticity of these pubs. That doesn’t mean that all of them have been around for decades (or in some cases, more than a century), but it does mean that the bars listed capture a sense of Eire, be it through the ancestry of their ownership, the history of the building, the provenance of the clientele, or the source of the decor.
If you live around any of these pubs, stop in for a pint and bite on St. Patrick’s Day for a genuine trip back to the old country, and what promises to be a great time. Take a look at our slideshow and see which Irish pubs made the list of most authentic in the United States.