As if overcompensating for Bono, Ireland has spread its convivial pubs to nearly every corner of the globe, offering whiskey-soaked reminders that the Emerald Isle is better than that. While these barroom embassies are solid drinking spots year-round, St. Patrick’s Day is their prime time.
With the Christian-rooted boozing holiday and the St. Paul (noon) and Minneapolis (6:30 p.m.) parades falling on a less party-friendly Monday, many Irish pubs are gearing up for a weekend of green-beaded revelry. Beer lines might be shorter at non-shamrock-brandishing bars, but if you can handle the crowds, hit one of these Celtic parties.
Uptown’s Morrissey’s Irish Pub celebrates its first birthday Friday with the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band and the Jolly Groggers (9 p.m.). The Lyn-Lake lads go bigger Saturday with a mini medallion hunt, sending participants through a few neighboring bars and back for a chance at a $500 prize. Morrissey’s is back on the horse Monday with live music starting at 3 p.m.
913 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-465-8555
Early-rising rugby fans can catch the 6 Nations Championship games at Kieran’s Irish Pub starting 7 a.m. Saturday, with live music featuring PaddyWagon and Sweet Colleens from 4 p.m. to close, plus a heated-tent dance party on the patio. Kieran’s toasts its 20th anniversary Monday with 89.3 the Current broadcasting live from the bar (6-10 a.m.) and more music from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Expect bagpipers and a $5 cover both days.
85 N. 6th St., Mpls., 612-339-4499
Perennially popping before-and-after parade spot Patrick McGovern’s goes the hardest on Monday, with the Minnesota Police Pipe Band (1 p.m.) and its sprawling DJ-fueled tent party (2 p.m. music). If daytime debauchery is what you crave, this downtown St. Paul bar has you covered without a cover charge.
225 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-5821
Aside from its annual “world’s shortest parade” (3:30-3:35 p.m.), O’Gara’s Bar & Grill offers multiple rooms of music on St. Paddy’s Day proper, featuring Tim Mahoney, the Shaun Mitzel Band, DJ Jonathan Ackerman and more. The 73-year-old bar keeps its parking-lot tent party rolling until 2 a.m.
164 N. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-644-3333
In northeast-ish Minneapolis, Keegan’s Irish Pub hosts two days of tented get-downs soundtracked by Four Pints Shy on Saturday (7 p.m.) and the Minnesota Police Pipe Band (4:30 p.m.) and Erin Rogue (6 p.m.) on Monday. Look for Jameson and Bushmills promo teams doling out samples both days.
16 University Av. NE., Mpls., 612-252-0880
The perfectly divey Dubliner Irish Pub does its tent-partying Monday with live music from Tap Two Trio (2-5 p.m.) and PaddyWagon (7 p.m.-close) and grub from the Blucy crew at the Blue Door Pub.
2162 W. University Av., St. Paul, 651-646-5551
McCormick’s Pub and Restaurant in Wayzata parties Saturday through Monday with Irish dancers, tunes and brews ($5 cover Saturday and Monday). Festivities spill into the former Blanc de Blanc store, which McCormick’s is converting into a new dining room (look for an official June opening). A heads up: Sunday’s fete is for the kiddos.
331 Broadway Av. S., Wayzata, 952-767-2417, www.mccormickswayzata.com
For Irish beer, go local
Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and there’s no reason that ethnic leeway shouldn’t extend to your pint glass. These Irish-spirited beers were born in the U.S.A., but can offer a reprieve from the Guinness/Bass/Harp routine.
Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Ale
Never mind that this “ruby red” ale is made in Ohio and brewed in accordance with German purity laws. The bourbon-colored brew, which starts with a hint of caramel and finishes with a rush of toasted grains, is Irish enough to enjoy in Saint Patrick’s honor.
Lift Bridge Irish Coffee Stout
Start St. Paddy’s Day with this eye-opening coffee stout from Stillwater’s own Lift Bridge Brewing Co., which blends its barrel-aged Russian imperial stout with a milk stout and infuses it with Dunn Bros coffee. The result is a smooth and deceptively drinkable (given its 8 percent ABV) beer — mellow but complex enough with its whiskey-barrel sweetness and deep coffee character.
HammerHeart Dublin Raid
Beer fans should start lining up their sober cabs to Lino Lakes on Saturday for HammerHeart Brewing Company’s Celtic celebration. The Nordic-, Celtic- and heavy metal-evoking brewery will have special barrel-aged versions of its peat-smoked Dublin Raid Irish red ale (including a richened, smoke-taming variety aged in Gamle Ode aquavit barrels) at the taproom, plus live music and DJs from Into the Void Records.
Boulevard Irish Ale
Clearly, Irish beers weren’t made with hop-crazed Americans in mind, and by no means is this Kansas City brewery’s Irish red ale an IPA substitute. But its judiciously floral hop presence just might satisfy an IBU junkie’s cravings between Two Hearteds. Plus, it’s a festive beer without the green food coloring.
NorthGate Red Headed Piper
Perhaps in the spirit of British Isles camaraderie, northeast Minneapolis’ English-inspired NorthGate Brewing made a specialty beer in time for St. Patrick’s Day. NorthGate co-founder Adam Sjogren described the sessionable Red Headed Piper as an über fresh “light, crisp red ale” with a biscuity malt backbone, which will only be available in growlers and on tap at Merlins Rest in Longfellow.
West End adds Yard House
While no official body oversees Minnesota bars with monster tap lists, it seems we have a new state champion. SoCal beer bar chain Yard House opened its first Minnesota location in the Shops at West End on Thursday with a whopping 140 tap handles. For some perspective, that’s about 60 more than St. Paul heavyweight Happy Gnome. Food-wise, the 407-seat St. Louis Park bar and restaurant serves everything from tacos to steak.
1665 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park, www.yardhouse.com
DJ Jake Rudh celebrates the 13th anniversary of his Transmission dance night on Saturday. To mark the occasion his Club Jager-rooted weekly and its music-obsessed crowd take over First Avenue’s Mainroom for a night of dancing, doughnuts (courtesy of Glam Doll) and record shopping, as the Electric Fetus will have some of its stash on hand.
9 p.m., Sat., $6-$8, 18-plus, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls., 612-338-8388, www.first-avenue.com
Even the Police Band?
It’s only fitting that on St. Patrick’s Day, one of the most bibulous days of the year, that blue-law-hating consumer group Minnesota Beer Activists is holding a Sunday sales rally/fundraiser at First Avenue. The politically tinged concert features Romantica, twangy roots rockers White Iron Band, Gabe Douglas’ Silverback Colony, former “The Voice” contestant (not former mayoral candidate) Mark Andrew, the Minnesota Police Pipe Band and host Ian Rans.
8 p.m., Mon., $10-$15, 18-plus, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls., 612-338-8388, www.first-avenue.com
Michael Rietmulder writes about bars, beer and nightlife.