A New Yorker’s Guide to Irish Revelry
It takes only a few minutes tallying the number of Irish-themed public houses and pubs in New York City to understand how much the city embraces its Irish-American culture. Though Irish immigrants began inhabiting the city long before the American Revolution, New York saw its greatest influx following the Great Famine that began in 1845—at one point the city was home to more Irish women and men than Dublin.
The Irish are infamous for their drinking culture, and since New Yorkers have a strong affinity for watering holes of all types, it’s safe to say that the city owes Ireland quite a few pints. But we know that you’ve likely suffered through enough mid-March hangovers to want to avoid a raucous bar where shots are the primary order of business. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of places that serve a great Irish brew with an elevated—but still authentic—ambience.
Drinks the Way They Used to Be
The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog—which bears no connection to the Five Points’ Dead Rabbits gang—specializes in the conviviality of old New York and Irish tradition. In 2013, this speakeasy-styled pub took home three awards at the cocktail industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony, including Best New Cocktail Bar. Visit the downstairs taproom for an awesome selection of craft beer, punch-bowl cocktails, and whiskeys of the world; or venture upstairs to the parlor, where 72 authentic cocktails from the 19th century are recreated.
A Bloody Good Time
Located in the heart of the old Five Points is Brinkley’s Gastropub. Pull up to the always-vibrant bar for some craic (Irish for banter or chat) where happy hour seems to never end; if anything, it just spills downstairs to the Southside nightclub for late-night dancing. If you feel like returning to the scene of the crime, Brinkley’s also offers a brunch menu accented by steel-cut Irish oatmeal (served with yogurt, bananas, almonds, and spiced maple syrup) and—for those seeking a little more spice—six different versions of the Bloody Mary.
Just off Centre Street in Nolita and overshadowed by the old Police Headquarters building is O’Nieal’s Restaurant and Lounge. The establishment boasts a historic connection to the neighborhood—during the days of Prohibition, New York’s finest could transport themselves in uniform from the old headquarters through a secret tunnel to enjoy a few spirits. Today, O’Nieal’s remains a staple in the neighborhood, where friendly bartenders continue to mix and serve fine cocktails.
Keeping with the law enforcement theme, Whiskey Tavern is tucked away on Baxter Street in Chinatown, only a stone’s throw from the downtown jail. Patrons flock to this oasis of a bar for the beer and whiskey selection, and because it’s the type of place where they can loosen their collars, roll up their sleeves, and enjoy a few drinks without having to choke down an exorbitant bill at the end of the night.
A Strong Dose of Dublin
New York’s Hell’s Kitchen is a neighborhood rich in Irish-American roots. The neighborhood abuts the Hudson River to the west, which is where many Irishmen found work at the docks during the late 19th century. Harkening back to fables and fairy tales of old Ireland, Tir Na Nog brands itself as a “modern Irish pub” and resembles an upscale establishment you might find in Dublin. Its menu (both food and drinks) also pays homage to many Irish staples.