March 15th, 2012

Listomania: St. Patrick’s Day Parties

Nearly 12% of Americans claim Irish heritage. However, every March that number spikes as American’s take the opportunity to celebrate Ireland’s second bishop and most famous saint’s death.

Green beer, shamrock headgear/glasses, the one day you acknowledge male gingers — all indicators that make professional drinkers declare the 17th to be “amateur night”, an evening (and most of the day) that many will use as justification to exceed the worst New Year’s Day hangover.

Photo of the Week 3.19.10 by Pixeltopia

As a PSA you are likely to see tweeted again and again: drinking and driving is risky and dangerous. It’s particularly stupid during high profile events such as this. Expect the day/weekend to be declared a no refusal weekend by the police. Cabs or friends on tetracycline (b/c of that out-patient procedure, absolutely NOT related to that hot mess you hooked up with three weeks ago) who cannot drink are your go-to’s.

St. Patty’s is to bartenders what St. Valentine’s is to wait staff—a hellacious evening in which the money will not make up for the crush and inevitable clientele drama (and in the bartenders’ case, the likelihood of needing a mop at some point in the evening). While we cannot endorse green colored beer for the mere fact that it is likely to be domestic swill, this is not an evening to expect a perfectly poured Guinness, and ordering a Black and Tan deserves a major tip. Better yet, just don’t be that guy today.

So where does one go, if not Boston? Here’s a quick rundown of some popular Inner Loop haunts:

Charming, fairly small bar. Much better date spot than blow-out locale, but worthy of your consideration nonetheless. There’s a patio in the back, so if it’s a nice day/evening… it’s attractiveness increases. Good beer selection relative to many of the other options. Points off for size and parking challenges. Irish owned (at last check).
Grade: A-

Brian O’Neill’s
Size. Beer taps, Patio. Parking garages nearby. Decent food options. Dedicated floor and bar staff. What’s not to like? Tends to attract a younger crowd than some other options, which increases chance of witnessing the drama of over-served and the testosterone of the over-bro’d. If you skew towards the younger demo, get your green on. As far as authenticity, one of the owners is named Colm, the other is the presumably eponymous Brian. Painfully Irish.
Grade: A

The Pavillions
Why? Because there are options, promotions, and parking. Attractive crowd, but attire aside, not particularly thematic. More opportunistic than Irish. And nobody’s saying there’s anything wrong with that… Especially if you’re taking your “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirt seriously.
Grade: B-

In years past, this was such a popular event that they started selling armbands for admission a week or two in advance. It’s settled a bit, but expect it to be packed. Known for its pizza (What is this Birraporretti’s?), that reputation is largely due to the pitchers that precede. Parking is a bitch. Don’t think about parking at Red Lion (a BRITISH pub across the street), they will justifiably have you hooked and towed before you get inside the party. Irish owned, of course.
Grade: A

A couple years ago the Irish flag was proudly hanging next to the Mexican flags as the band sets alternated from traditional Irish to mariachi. Houston recently was noted for being the most diverse metro area in the country. Griff’s was apparently ahead of the curve. On 3/17, Griff’s makes you buy tokens to exchange for beer—a model that feels like a festival more than a pub (or the management just doesn’t trust its staff). Bonus: Multiple beer stations. Unfortunately, this place is sorely in need of a facelift, not to mention its Irish heritage is a bit compromised (Mike Griffin sold the place years ago).
Grade: C+

The Harp
A solid neighborhood locale. Nothing flashy in décor, just an ample deck and professional bartenders who have been through this battle several times. There are usually additional tents, traditional Irish clogging, and a drums and bagpipe demonstration. They’ve got a second parking lot west of the bar, but street parking on Mandel is a good option as well. Irish owned.
Grade: A

Anchoring EaDo, Lucky’s doesn’t scream “Irish bar” as much as some of the other locations. It’s one of the larger options and usually the site of a local radio remote broadcast at night for 94.5 The Buzz. Between the on-air publicity and the downtown workers who never return from lunch, Lucky’s will be near capacity by the start of happy hour. A shit show, but a raucous shit show… if that’s your thing.
Grade: A-

Jimmie’s Ice House
Random entry only because this has traditionally been the meet-up locale prior to the parade on Saturday. We’re pretty sure that 3/17 is the only day of the year the bar opens early—7:00AM! Traditional spot for Heights loungers? Yes. Traditional Irish shenanigans. No way.
Grade: C+

Celtic Gardens
Does Affliction make those bitchin’ graphic tees in a lovely kelly green hue? You’d better hope so if you want to rock the Irish colors and yet still wear the unofficial uniform of this hotspot. Brought to Midtown in association with Pub Fiction, Celtic Gardens offers a more upbeat version of an Irish pub, serving up Jameson with a hearty side of house music. But you’ve got to respect the menu. Scarf down a few fried devils and forget all about the two hours you just spent in line to get through the door.
Grade: B

Molly’s is a haven for people looking for one thing, to get drunk (just like the Irish!). Whether you want to throw darts, shoot pool or just sit at the bar and drink your beer, Molly’s has got you covered. You can always ride the metro rail home (if you live on Main St.) or at least until you’re sober, so don’t skimp on the Guinness. There will be bagpipes and men in kilts and live music and you can always head up to the second floor balcony and survey all that is before you. Just one favor to ask of you, don’t head up stairs if the room is already spinning. The balcony is for the viewers, not the vomiters.
Grade: B+

— Alexander


Whitney — Friday, March 16, 2012 10:59 am

Shamrock Inn! They always have tons of green beer. Irish Dancers. Plu,s the cabbage rolls are delicious.

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