Just about the only things you can rely on when travelling these days is the security line will be a pain, the airfare will be higher than you expect and somewhere on your journey you will happen into an Irish pub sure to make you feel at home. As St. Patrick’s Day approaches on March 17, here is a list of the favourite Irish pubs I visited during the past year that are nowhere near Ireland:
1. Rattle N Hum, New York – Sharing the name with a U2 album, this bar on 33rd Street and 5th Avenue is an elevation for the Irish pub. The beer list includes 40 draughts, most of which are craft brews from the States, and more than 100 bottles. It’s got great ambience, too, and rotates its beer list so often it’s set up an iPhone app so you can check out what’s on tap. Website: http://www.rattlenhumbarnyc.com
2. O’Hooligans, St. Petersburg – Any anglophone who’s been to Russia knows finding a place where the servers speak English is an oasis. Finding one with international beers beyond Heineken and Warsteiner, good food and reasonable prices is like discovering buried treasure. O’Hooligans, which is just off Nevskiy Prospekt, serves hearty pub fare that sticks with Russian flavours rather than trying and failing at cuisine foreign to its kitchen. Try the grenki, wedges of baked garlic bread, and the roast chicken. Location: 14 Bol. Konyushennaya (half a block northeast of Nevskiy Prospekt)
3. George Payne, Barcelona – Irish pubs, no matter where they are, adopt some of the habits and personality of their location. In Barcelona, that means getting into the nightlife. The George Payne, located close to La Rambla, serves up nachos, chicken wings and late-night revelry for guys and gals. Sports fans can take in European league soccer matches and NFL games on Sundays in the fall. Plus, there’s karaoke and a variety of music that keeps you moving. Website: www.thegeorgepayne.com
4. Rosa Parks, Tel Aviv – Okay, it’s named after the African-American civil rights activist and has Glenfiddich signage outside, so it’s not really an Irish pub. But it’s got all the hallmarks of a great one: soccer on the big screen, okay food, decent beer selection and a cute blond girl doing the pour. Even better: it’s open way past what would be closing time in Toronto. Location: No website or visible street address; located on corner of Dizengoff and Yermiyahu. Head upstairs for the bar scene.
5. The Irish Pub, Bogota – You can’t get a more straightforward name than that. The best thing about this spot is the location. It’s in Zona Rosa, the clean, safe party spot in the Colombian capital, and it’s got a great patio that’s jammed on weekends. If your Spanish is just so-so, you’ll find this is an easy place to order a pint and to make conversation. Location: Carrera 12A and Calle 78.
Got a favourite Irish pub of your own that you came across during your travels? Send me an email with the details.
Here’s a list of my five favourite Irish pubs in Toronto.