Where can you find a top-notch pint of Guinness this side of the Irish Sea? Our beloved capital is full of authentic Irish pubs and, with St Patrick’s Day approaching, Sian Griffiths has been busy finding some of the finest London has to offer…
It’s no secret that the Irish know what they’re doing when it comes to running pubs, and these days you can find them in far-flung places around the world – everywhere from Dubai to La Paz has been unable to resist the Irish charm. One thing’s for sure: St Patrick’s Day celebrations are no longer limited to the Emerald Isle – and they haven’t been for a long time – and if you find yourself in the English capital this St Paddy’s Day, well, you’re in for a treat.
London is home to some terrifically authentic Irish boozers. Yes, the wine list is likely to consist simply of red or white, but they serve a mean pint of Guinness alongside some stellar whiskeys, and the atmosphere is guaranteed to be lively. These are our top picks.
Auld Shillelagh, Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington’s beloved Auld Shillelagh has stretched three times further out the back since opening in 1991. Beers are well looked after and the bar staff, who are as hospitable as they come, will pour your pint of Guinness slowly and with love – they’ll even bring it over to you to save you lurking at the bar. This, together with a sun-trap beer garden, weekly live music and big screens showing sports events, make this a real hit with the mix of punters it attracts.
Boston Arms, Tuffnell Park
Come for the Guinness and Murphy’s on tap but stay for the lively atmosphere that only a quality Irish pub can offer. Housed within an historic Grade II listed building in the heart of Tuffnell Park, this place is full of character. There’s also live music on Saturday nights to keep things interesting, and fans can catch a game of Irish Gaelic football or Irish international rugby on the big screens.
The Tipperary, Farringdon
Tucked away inside a 13th Century building, this is one of the oldest Irish pubs in the city. What’s more, legend has it that The Tipperary (once named The Boar’s Head) was the first pub outside of Ireland to serve Guinness. If you’re feeling peckish, head upstairs to the tiny dining room for some traditional fare – classics Irish stew and ham and eggs are on the menu. Wash it all down that with a swig of something from the 16 Irish whiskeys stocked behind the bar.
The Harp, Covent Garden
Award-winning ales are the order of the day at The Harp, situated near Charing Cross post office. If you’re wondering what to expect, the board outside features the up-to-date offering, which include some tasty craft ales. No, there’s no shortage of beer here, but the traditional cider and perry are also worth sampling. This definitely is not an Irish-themed pub, just an authentic Irish bar with real heart.
Anam, Chapel Market
If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish this St Paddy’s Day, get yourself to Anam – London’s first (and currently only) Irish cocktail bar. This highly thought-of, unpretentious joint with a distinct retro vibe is owned and run by a Dubliner, and it’s full of Irish soul. Guests can expect to find a host of premium-spirit cocktails concoted by expert mixologists – the Champagne Cup (with a hint of cherry mixed with fine Remy Martin Cognac and finished with Champagne) and the Red Satin (served frappé with fresh raspberries smashed with orange and apple brandies) are two of the most enticing.
Philomena’s, Covent Garden
This Irish-themed bar and kitchen is the place to go for great beer and good food. You can also catch major sporting events on one of their nine TV screens. Hearty grub is served all day, every day and you can take your pick from the likes of Philomena’s full breakfast, roast gammon and mustard ciabatta and the Irish mixed grill served with chicken breast, pork and leek sausage, honey-roast ham, sliced minute steak, fried egg, mushroom, salad and fries, (this one’s definitely not for the faint hearted).
Sheephaven Bay, Camden Town
This St Paddy’s Day, this Camden pub is offering up free Irish stew from noon until 6pm and lively Irish music will liven things up further from 7pm. But The Sheephaven Bay is full of charm all year round, with its matey staff, traditional home-cooked fare and fantastic conservatory and beer garden. Of course, all the usual suspects are on tap if you’re looking to quench your thirst.
Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park
This ivy-clad establishment on a backstreet of Fisbury Park is not only one of the best Irish pubs in London but also boasts one of the best beer gardens in the capital. Inside, you’ll find four separate areas: a horseshoe-shaped bar at the front, which moves into a relaxed back bar area, then double doors lead through into a room with a pool table and another set lead out into a rather peculiar garden with stairways and terraces. Check it out for yourself. It’s well worth heading a little off the beaten track for this gem.
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