Ireland’s pub culture is often imitated, but rarely duplicated. Here are four taprooms across the United States that come close to being spot-on, where you can enjoy a pint (or more) along with some neighborhood bluster and brogue.
> John D. McGurk’s (St. Louis, Missouri)
Few of the pubs in Dublin’s touristy Temple Bar even match the authentic vibe of McGurk’s: worn, wood floors; high-backed wood booths; a maze of mismatched rooms; and live Celtic music, including acts straight from the Auld Sod, seven nights a week.
Some 16 kinds of beers are on tap and about several dozen in bottles. Barkeeps are schooled in the art of the perfect pour: the tilt, the settle, and the temperature, 42 to 45°F.
> Clancy’s Tavern and Whiskey House (Knoxville, Tennessee)
It helps if you’re an Irish whisky drinker (the bar stocks more than 25), but don’t let that stop you from popping inside this Knoxville mainstay.
Custom woodworker Art Clancy designed and installed the gleaming wood interiors, which look as authentically Irish as the four Clancy brothers. Younger brother Danny is a co-owner, and an extended Clancy clan helps keep the place humming.
> Fifth Province Pub (Chicago, Illinois)
Families are a fixture in Ireland’s village pubs, so it only seems appropriate that this most Irish of bars in Chicago, Illinois, is tucked inside a former elementary school.
The local Irish-American stonemasons, woodworkers, and other craftsmen who built the space wanted to create a homey place for Irish expats and Irish Americans (and those who wish they were) to share news and celebrate special occasions. There’s even live music on weekends and a full menu (including curry fries, shepherd’s pie, and Irish country stew).
> The Burren (Somerville, Massachusetts)
The owners of this pub are traditional Irish musicians, a few of the bartenders’ thick brogues are indecipherable, and the atmospherics are blue-collar comfy. Most nights the traditional Celtic harmonies and fiddling you hear are performed by actual Irishmen (past acts include Bono, the Chieftains, and Altan).
Meet some Irish expats at the Monday (twice monthly) dancing lessons and sessions. “Some people think the waiters are rude,”says patron and documentary film producer Jess Barnthouse, “but they’re actually just Irish.”
This list originally appeared in the National Geographic book Abroad at Home: The 600 Best International Travel Experiences in North America.
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