Ah, the feast of St. Patrick, which we remember every year with free bus rides from Miller and green variants of their product. In the spirit of the holiday, the Barhopper has decided that March shall be a month for Irish bars. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found in Riverwest, so we had to venture a bit further afield. Hey, it could be worse. I could’ve gone to Ireland. Wait, no I couldn’t’ve; I spent all my money on beer.
2017 E. North Avenue “It’s Irish. It has a shamrock on the sign.”- Lovely Assistant Ambiance: Crowded and busy, but in a cozy, fun way. Excellent low light and lots of wood. And there’s a vending machine with nuts and cigarettes. Crowd: East Siders from young professionals up through Those With Grey Hair. On Tap: WOW. 25 beers on tap, more than half of which are brewed locally. Three each from Lakefront and Sprecher, New Glarus, Capital, Leinie’s, 3 Floyds, some German imports, and the classic Guinness-Harp-Bass trilogy. Lots of seasonals. No wonder the lower level is decorated with taps. Top Shelf: Once again, an embarrassment of riches. A huge whiskey and scotch selection and what has to be every flavor of Stoli ever made. Plenty of other vodkas, too, as well as tequila and rum and…well, choose your poison. Jukebox: Shut out again. House sound is respectable though — upstairs we had a pretty good 1990s mix, downstairs I caught a non-single Indigo Girls track. Men’s Room: Oddly shaped, nicely tiled, and there’s ad space available over one of the urinals. Any takers? Women’s Room: Lovely Assistant reports “The sink is an awesome shade of green. It’s that avocado-y color that my parents’ fridge was when I was a kid. And someone tried to second day air UPS the lone bathroom stall…” Additional Comments: There is food to be found here, a large selection at decent prices. And they have ostrich burgers!
1234 N. Astor Ambiance: Mostly restaurant with a bar attached. Lots and lots of Irish paraphernalia, including the standard Guinness signs (and by the way, I still don’t get the Guinness-toucan connection, no matter how much Harp I drink), and various sayings in both English and Gaelic painted on the walls (personal favorite: “no sniveling”). Crowd: A little bit of everyone. On Tap: Harp, Guinness, and Bass of course, plus Strongbow, Molings, John Courage, McEwan, and Murphy’s Irish Stout. Top Shelf: Tullamore Dew, Bushmills, Jameson, Middletons…yeah, I’m sure there was stuff besides Irish whiskey, but who cares? Jukebox: No tunes unless there’s a band. Men’s Room: Um. .. not much to say. . .still more Irish paraphernalia on the walls. Women’s Room: “The bathroom was green and white and orange, but much more tasteful than most Irish bars,” says Lovely Assistant. Additional Comments: Excellent food that’s not nearly as expensive as the place looks, and most of it’s authentic Irish. So, overall — very Irish indeed. I have to go drink water now, but I shall return in April. Til then, stay cool.
by Jeremy Berg