10 great places to raise a toast to St. Patrick

Raise a pint to Ireland's favorite beer on its 250th birthday.

ByUSA Today
March 17, 2009, 5:47 PM

— -- Belly up. This St. Patrick's Day also marks the 250th anniversary of the beer most famously associated with Ireland, Guinness. Whatever your choice of ale, Gregg Glaser, an editor with Modern Brewery Age, All About Beer and Yankee Brew News, shares with Ron Schoolmeester for USA TODAY his list of favorite places to pour a pint on this side of the Atlantic.

Nine Fine Irishmen Las Vegas Build a pub in Ireland, ship it to the USA, then plunk it down on the Vegas Strip — what a concept! But that's exactly the story of Nine Fine Irishmen, a pub in Sin City's New York-New York Hotel and Casino. "It even has the distinction of selling more Guinness than any other bar in the entire country (171,500 pints last year)," Glaser says. 702-740-6463; ninefineirishmen.com

McGuire's Irish Pub Pensacola, Fla. This pub is also the place for grub. "Noted for cooking up some of the best Irish fare in the Southeast, McGuire's has been awarded Florida Trend Magazine's Golden Spoon Award for the past 13 years," Glaser says. "Be sure to try the Irish boxtys (garlic mashed potatoes rolled in herbed bread crumbs and flash fried) on the appetizer menu — they're as good as any you'll find in Dublin. And the drinks aren't bad, either." 850-433-6789; mcguiresirishpub.com

Pour the Perfect Pint New York City This is one of two pubs of the same name in Manhattan — the first is the popular watering hole at Times Square. This four-floor pub is a few blocks away at 203 E. 45th St. "What's different is the décor," Glaser says. "You'll feel like you're actually enjoying a beer in Dublin, thanks to the Irish bric-a-brac, authentic gas lamps and thatched walls on the rooftop deck." 212-867-8159; theperfectpintnyc.com

Irish Snug Denver This is one of the few pubs in the nation that has what's called a "snug" inside, Glaser says. "A snug is a small, private room with direct access to the bar. While you might not want to seclude yourself on St. Patrick's Day, this will give you a true Irish pub experience." 303-839-1394; irishsnug.com

StatsAtlanta "Most people might not typically consider a sports bar an ideal place to raise a pint on St. Paddy's Day," Glaser says, "but Stats in Atlanta is the exception. The best part is their unique setup whereby a table for bar patrons houses taps, so that you can pour your own pint instead of waiting for your bartender to do it." St. Patrick's Day is a bit more subdued here. "Their festivities won't be centered around loud music and shot girls, but rather communion with good friends and family." 404-885-1472; statsatl.com/home.php

Tom Bergin's Tavern Los Angeles This place is perhaps best known for its Irish coffee (coffee and Irish whiskey topped with whipped cream). But there's plenty more. "Upon entering you are immediately drawn to the famous 'Horse Shoe Bar,' which is said to have been the inspiration for the TV show Cheers," Glaser says. "Another inspiration for the show, according to lore, was the pub's 'regulars' vibe, which is brought to life through the thousands upon thousands of cut-out shamrocks, each bearing the names of happy bar patrons that have flocked to this famous pub over the years." 323-936-7151; tombergins.com

The Ugly Moose Philadelphia Sorry, no Irish roots here, but the craic can't be beat. "Craic is a Gaelic term to describe good fun, banter and ambiance, and The Ugly Moose always has it," Glaser says. "From the friendly bar staff to the patrons that fill the bar area, it's never hard to strike up a conversation." The Moose, as it's known locally, also offers an array of authentic Irish fare on St. Patrick's Day. 215-482-2739; theuglymoose.com

The Snug Hingham, Mass. This pub just outside Boston, arguably the greatest Irish-American city, pays homage to the roadside pubs that are found throughout Ireland, Glaser says. "Located in a building that dates back to the 1820s, The Snug is a hidden gem that, unlike its counterparts, serves as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. However, don't be fooled by its quiet demeanor. This pub offers its customers an extensive wine and beer list, starting, of course, with their 'perfect pint.' " 781-749-9774; snugpub.com

Celtic CrossingsChicago "Irish pride is evident in every aspect of this authentic Irish haunt in the River North neighborhood," Glaser says. "A strict no-television policy ensures that pints and conversation flow without interruption." Enjoy one of 13 beers on tap as you sit by the working stone fireplace. "If you're homesick or looking to re-create a past trip to Ireland, this is the place for you." 312-337-1005

The Kerry Irish Pub New Orleans A little bit of the Emerald Isle right in the French Quarter — and with a little bit of something for everyone. "What started off as a venue for Irish and country music artists has since developed into a musical gumbo, if you will, that blends mixed sounds ranging from Irish, folk, blues, rock and country, among many others," Glaser says. 504-527-5954; kerryirishpub.com

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