St. Patrick’s Day is the one time of year where anyone with a drop of Irish blood can justify getting day drunk in the name of ancestry, but chances are that neither swigging green beer nor drunkenly swaying to Dropkick Murphy’s “Shipping Off to Boston” are recognized forms of merrymaking in the old country. In case you’d like to recognize your forefathers respectfully instead of shaming them with your drunken attempt at an Irish accent, New York has no shortage of Irish enclaves and the bars and restaurants that serve them. And if you, like the New York City Council, plan on skipping out on the parade over its exclusion of gay groups, you’ll have plenty of other options for festive debauchery with an authentic feel. Here’s where you should hit this St. Pat’s, whether you’re looking for a filling meal of traditional eats or a filling meal of Irish whiskey.
Starting any day of celebration with the most important meal—a hearty Irish breakfast— will have us well equipped to tackle whatever booze, dancing, or combination of the two come our way later. In addition to its Irish smoked salmon, Irish apple pie, and Guinness battered fish and chips (a Friday specialty), Soho’s Puck Fair also dishes out a full spread of bangers, mash, and white and black pudding. Pro-tip: There are rumors abound that the Irish bar, named after one of the country’s oldest street fairs, is not long for this world, so grab a heaping plate while you still have a chance.
Less authentically Irish in terms of atmosphere but not flavor, the Irish breakfast served at The Fitz (inside the Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel) still serves as a filling way to begin any celebration. Expect two eggs cooked the way you like ‘em, Irish-cut bacon, sausage, black and white pudding, grilled tomato, brown bread and preserves, and your choice of coffee or tea. If you’re watching your figure or saving space for a few pints of Guinness, opt for Flahavan’s Irish oatmeal, which is imported from Ireland.
A Bronx staple, Mary’s Celtic Kitchen slings out Irish fare round-the-clock, with Kilkenny-born Mary Moylan helming the kitchen. Choose from items such as Irish stew, a rasher-laden Irish toastie sandwich, and beer-battered fish and chips, and polish it all off with a homemade sherry trifle and a cup of Irish tea or coffee.
Now that your stomach’s been properly coated, it’s time to give it a healthy dousing of beer. The Irish bartenders at Molly’s Shebeen
(named after an illegal drinking establishment) are always more than happy to draw a Guinness (or three) before you cozy up to the fireplace or shuffle across the sawdust-strewn floor. Frequently cited as one of the most authentic Irish bars in the city, Molly’s is also a safe bet for specialties such as Shepherd’s pie and a decidedly non-authentic but still delicious burger. You can also snag a weekend Irish breakfast here as well, if you weren’t able to fill up beforehand, and tipples like Murphy’s Irish stout and more than a dozen Irish whiskeys.
It’s hard to miss McSorley’s Old Ale House come St. Paddy’s Day weekend, with its lines stretching down the block, but make it through the wait and you’ll be rewarded with two beers of your choice—light or dark. As the oldest continuously operating bar in the city, McSorley’s has collected its fair share of ephemera, including a collection of dusty wishbones, sawdusted floors, and efficient but curt bartenders accustomed to dealing with the drunken masses and cramped interior.
If you’re Irish through and through, head to The Dead Rabbit’s Irish to the Core tasting event on Sunday the 16th. Northern Irish bartenders Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon will host a cocktail how-to, and you’ll have the opportunity to sample five legendary spirits from Ireland: Knappogue Castle Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Clontarf 1014 Irish Whiskey, Boru Vodka, Celtic Honey Liqueur and Brady’s Irish Cream. In case your stomach’s back to growling, The Dead Rabbit will also have Gaelic grub like popcorn fish-and-chips and mini shepherd's pies on hand. Return on Monday for a St. Patrick’s Day whiskey feast, with complimentary corned beef sandwiches and a selection of Jameson Black Barrel cocktails in the parlor.
In addition to allegedly being the world’s first and only all-Guiness draught bar, Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar features a mix of Irish trad, Celtic rock, bluegrass and more, seven nights a week. For Monday’s holiday, the Kip’s Bar bar has lined up live performers from 1pm until close, which you can enjoy alongside a Guinness (what else?) or another pick from its selection of bottled beers or spirits.
Cobble Hill’s Céol, run by Dublin ex-pat Loretta Heaney, is painted a striking shade of green, in case you have a habit of stumbling past less-conspicuous drinking establishments. Gaelic for music, Céol has lined up a week of live music in celebration of the holiday, culminating in day of giveaways and prizes on Monday, followed by “staff hangover day” on Tuesday.
Decorated like a Gothic Irish Monastery, Bay Ridge’s The Wicked Monk features wood and stained glass shipped directly from the Chapel in Greenmount in Cork, Ireland, and other authentic touches. Expect four nights of live music for the holiday, heart fare such as Guinness-braised short ribs and Shepherd’s pie, plus properly poured pints of Guinness—owner Michael Dorgan has been known to toss a few that don’t live up to his standards.