There's something just simply special about a night out in New York City and what could be better than wetting your whistle in a brilliant Irish-owned pub in the city that never sleeps.
Irish bars tend to have a certain connotation - especially abroad. Dimly lit and plastered with shamrocks, tri-colors, and vintage Guinness ads; usually featuring lots of wooden surfaces and rickety bar stools too. It's safe to say that they tend to have an interior that's fairly consistent all over the world.
When it comes to Irish bars in the Big Apple, they're ten-a-penny. In fact, from Murphy's to Molly Malone's, there's a reminder of home on virtually every other block. However, in recent years, a new era of watering holes are re-inventing the Irish bar as we know it.
Without being blatant about their token 'Irishness' - innovative hospitality pros are putting a new stamp on the category while ensuring that the best Ireland has to offer is promoted and highlighted amongst the high standard of New York bars.
It's not that we'll ever get bored of some of the true classics (Neary’s, PJ Clarke's, Swift Hibernian Lounge, and McSorley's Ale House to name but a few) but here are some of the prominent new movers and shakers on the Irish and Irish-owned bar scene.
Nomad: Oscar Wilde
Welcome to New York's longest bar counter - an impressive 118.5 feet of marble. Named for the famed playwright, this elaborate venue boasts over 300 spirits and 32 beers on tap. If you ask us, the "50 Shades of Dorian Gray" (!) cocktail is a winner. An obvious nod to Ireland can be found in the food menu - colcannon croquettes, boxty, and the Wilde burger which comes slathered with Guinness cheese.
West Village: The Spaniard
This busy gastropub on West 4th Street is the perfect mix of style and sustenance. Pop in for the interiors (emerald green leather banquettes, velvet stools, exposed brick walls) and stay for the vibe, the strong drinks, and the delectable food menu.
The Irish team behind The Spaniard, who also operate Bua, The Wren, The Penrose, Wilfie & Nell, The Bonnie, and Sweet Afton, hit the nail on the head here with their patty melt sandwich. Dry-aged ribeye brisket, short rib, sharp cheddar, and bacon - it's no surprise that this elevated 'sambo' has made its way into The New York Times, Vogue, and Esquire.
Financial District: Blacktail
The Dead Rabbit is a no-brainer when it comes to name-checking trendy new Irish bars spearheading the genre. After claiming the title of the world's best bar, the team behind the Dead Rabbit have struck gold again with Blacktail. While their new focus is a retro spin on Cuban food, atmosphere, and booze - the sleek venture shows that Belfast-native owners Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon are worthy of their many awards.
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Our friends at the award-winning @loboplantation in Sydney have something special planned tonight. It’s the last in their series of ‘Tiki Thursdays’, and they’re going out in style – wearing their loudest shirts and bringing a little of that BlackTail lush life vibe down under. We’ve helped put together a one-off menu of BlackTail drinks for the occasion, including our famous Rum & Cola, Mulata, El Presidente and Teacher’s Pet. Bacardi is supplying the rums from their prestigious Facundo range. There’ll be live calypso music and another round of Lobo Plantation’s famous Tag Team Daiquiri Competition. So book a table if you’re in the neighbohood and hula on down. Sounds like a lot of fun.
Times Square/Union Square: Lillie's Victorian Establishment
Here's a win-win: a far-from-average Irish bar where you can tuck into a full, far-from-average Irish fry-up served all day. With two locations, Lillie's Victorian Establishment is a lavish ode to the legendary socialite, actress, and winery owner Lillie Langtry who ran in the same circles as Oscar Wilde.
Unsurprisingly, Mayo/Monaghan-born co-owners and literary buffs Tommy Burke and Frank McCole, are also behind the aforementioned Oscar Wilde-themed venture.
Midtown East: The Horny Ram
As the tongue-in-cheek name would suggest, this spot is a lively one. The farm-to-table menu combines comfort food from both sides of the Atlantic. We can't help but feel a little homesick as we tuck into the Irish brekkie, but this is America after all, so rest assured there's also the option to dig into chocolate M&M pancakes laced with maple syrup and whipped cream.
Midtown West: Tanner Smiths
Catching a show on Broadway? Consider it the perfect opportunity to head to Tanner Smiths. The upscale, Prohibition-inspired cocktail bar is an eponymous tribute to the famed New York mobster and is a veritable gem in an area of the city that can get pretty hectic at the best of times.
While you're there don't sleep on sampling the Irish whiskey-infused 'punch' or their infamous smoked cocktails. If you've had too many, remember that the owners also run The Mean Fiddler a few blocks down, which is essentially New York's version of Copper Face Jacks.
Financial District: Toro Loco
Pink-hued Toro Loco is the new party kid on the block. Located on Stone Street, this hopping venue takes its influence from Day of the Dead and Mexico City's vibrant taquerias. Its co-owner, Dubliner Robert Mahon, was inspired by his global travels and there's definitely a dash of Irish wildness to be found permeating through the place.
Case in point - its weekend burlesque and drag show mezcal brunches, promoted by NYC's busiest party planner, Sligo man Patrick Greene.
West Village: Hudson Hound
Pining for home comforts is one thing, a relentless craving for curry chips is another beast altogether. Luckily, Irish expats will find them here at this cozy tin-roofed pub. Warm up near the fireplace and delve into the American-Irish menu which boasts rasher and sausage dumplings, coddle Shepherd's Pie, and Dubliner cheese toasties. Feeling an all-out carb-fest coming on? They've got your back. You can take a whole loaf of homemade Irish soda bread and Kerry Gold butter home with you ... for the New York appropriate price of $12.
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Upper East Side: Stella & Fly
The Upper East Side is nothing if not 'neighborhood', and this Irish-owned coffee shop and wine bar facilitates a warm, welcoming environment that is synonymous with the area. The focus here is on quality products - think organic wine and locally-sourced coffee - in a relaxed setting that allows people to both "start and finish their day" with Stella & Fly.
Brooklyn: The Craic
Venture beyond New York City out to Williamsburg and you'd be hard pushed to find a more enjoyable Irish bar than The Craic - the key is in the name, after all. Friendliness comes first here - with a whole host of amicable, witty bartenders who'll quite literally make you feel like you're at home. Get a sense of what they're about and peruse their hilariously cynical "Humans of the Craic" Instagram series, where no member of staff or regular customer is saved from a good old Irish roasting.
What are your usual Irish haunts in New York City? Let us know in the comments below.
Try out the best, trending New York Irish-owned bars!
* This article was originally published on our sister publication U Magazine.