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10 Best Irish Pubs in America

1. The Dead Rabbit in New York, NY
10 Best Irish Pubs in America
What makes an Irish pub great? It could be the impressive whiskey selection used to create cocktail concoctions, the great variery of beers and ciders that go well beyond Guinness and Strongbow, or the traditional Irish music humming in the background (or raucously being performed)—maybe the friendly bartenders and regulars who know you by first name. For Tim Herlihy, national brand ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, it's all of these characteristics (and then some) that contribute to the overall welcoming atmosphere, crucial to the identity of an Irish pub. Herlihy went on a journey across the U.S. this past month, hitting all 50 states within 30 days to experience the greatest Irish pubs in America. He gave us the inside scoop on his findings, along with reasons as to why these bars have stayed true to his Irish background.
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    1. The Dead Rabbit in New York, NY
    1. The Dead Rabbit in New York, NY
    "You have a really sensational Irish pub here, along with good traditional fare, the best selection of Irish whiskey in America—about 180 of them—and good beers on tap. At The Dead Rabbit, you have this combination of pub culture and best-in-the-world cocktails. On the second floor, you have cutting edge, Irish whiskey cocktails, inspiring Irish pubs in America and all around the world. Moving up one more level to the third floor, you’ll find an Irish pub, but it feels more like your granddad's garage with exposed brick and cooperage tools on the wall. It feels like three bars, but ultimately like one after exploring. You’re likely to pick your favorite and finish your night there."

    Photo courtesy of The Dead Rabbit
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    2. Tom Bergin's in Los Angeles, CA
    2. Tom Bergin's in Los Angeles, CA
    “This is the oldest Irish pub in Los Angeles, going back to 1936. Besides being an Irish pub, Tom Bergin’s was one of the pubs that made Irish coffee famous. It’s dubbed the house of Irish coffee and it’s one of the best in Los Angeles because it’s a great neighborhood bar. It’s a fun place to make friends, enjoy whiskey, beer, and traditional Irish fare.”

    Courtesy of Tom Bergin's/Facebook
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    3. Reilly's in Anchorage, AK
    3. Reilly's in Anchorage, AK
    “Reilly’s has a log cabin feel and makes for a great local pub that is the fabric and centerpiece of the community. This place has my favorite Irish coffee of the trip. And, I loved seeing a pub in unexpected places and as far away as Alaska.”

    Photo courtesy Reilly's Irish Pub 
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    4. Nancy Whiskey Pub in Detroit, MI
    4. Nancy Whiskey Pub in Detroit, MI
    Nancy Whiskey has been here since 1902, and quite everything about it is great. But the story I really like about it is, anyone who's new to the bar has a shot of whiskey on the house. It’s fantastic. I was in there, and a guy walks in and orders a drink, and the bartender asks, 'Oh, is this your first time here?' The guy thought he was doing it wrong, so he kind of stumbled over his answer. The bartender asked again, and he said, 'Aw, fine, you got me.' The free shot caught him by a big surprise, since he thought he was going to be chastised and kicked out.”

    Courtesy of Nancy Whiskey Pub/Facebook 
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    5. John D. McGurk's in St. Louis, MO
    5. John D. McGurk's in St. Louis, MO
    “Amazingly, John D. McGurk's is a 20,000 square-foot bar, and that is not something you think of with an Irish pub. You think of cozy, you think of fireplaces. So I walk in, and there are six bars within this pub, and at first I didn’t realize the bar was so large. It's got light musi and traditional Irish fare, but then there are these elaborate, cozy corners, one after the other. You keep on discovering more and more. It’s really a breathtaking place—just a series of Irish pubs.”

    Courtesy of John D. McGurk's/Facebook 
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    6. Swift Hibernian Lounge in New York, NY
    6. Swift Hibernian Lounge in New York, NY
    “This is probably my favorite Irish pub in the New York City. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say that. When you walk into this 21-year-old bar, there’s that instant conversation. You look to your right and see a mural on the wall of an upside-down church. Then, you look to the left of that, and the top shelf with their whiskey selection is actually a church pew. Swift is a good-looking bar, with a lot of character and long communal tables, and good Irish whiskey and music. On the weekends, it’s hopping and packed, so it’s an edgy, fun place. At the core of it, an Irish pub is also a craft beer bar. They [Swift] have as many as 50 beers available, probably 24 on draft, and a great Irish whiskey selection. Just a fun, fun place to be.”

    Courtesy of Swift Hibernian Lounge/Facebook
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    7. Patrick's of Pratt Street in Baltimore, MD
    7. Patrick's of Pratt Street in Baltimore, MD
    “This is the oldest Irish pub in America, since 1847. I met the owner there. What I loved about it was the story. A lot of people forget you couldn’t drink on St. Patrick’s Day up to 1961. All the bars and liquor stores were closed, since it was a holy day. Although that’s changed since 1962, they’ve [Patrick of Pratt Street] stayed true to that tradition. It’s kind of odd, thinking that any Irish pub would stay closed on St. Patrick’s Day in America.”

    Courtesy of Patrick's of Pratt Street/The Drink Nation 
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    8. Fado in Chicago, IL
    8. Fado in Chicago, IL
    Fado is probably the most famous group of Irish pubs in America. There are 13 of them, and the best is, in my opinion, is Chicago. They probably do the best Irish whiskey in the country, a real shelf for Irish craft beer as well, and they really characterize the Irish pub atmosphere in a good way. The bar décor includes so much detail in the fixers and fittings—pub parts, chairs, tables, wall décor and fittings—which was brought over from pubs in Ireland to create a true, authentic atmosphere in Chicago.”

    Courtesy of Fado/Facebook 
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    9. Brendan Behan in Boston, MA
    9. Brendan Behan in Boston, MA
    “This is the coming together of two worlds; it’s a dive bar Irish pub. Brendan Behan looks like an Irish pub the minute you walk in, named after the famous Irish writer and poet. They have this tattoo that all the regulars get, and it’s called badville that looks like a caricature of an angry house. It basically means, yeah, we’re all bad to the bone. 90 people have it, including the bartenders, and it’s kind of like this celebration of the regulars. When you get invited, you get your badville, and you’re a hardcore regular.”

    Courtesy of Brendan Behan
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    10. Kevin Barry’s in Savannah, GA
    10. Kevin Barry’s in Savannah, GA
    Savannah has the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in America, a very unexpected place for that. Kevin Barry’s has been open for 35 years and they’re famous for their music. What is quite unique about this pub is they have the same nine musicians playing throughout the time. The traditional music and delicious Irish fare, like corned beef and cabbage and beef stew—some of my favorite dishes—are standout at this favorite of mine.”

    Courtesy of Tullamore D.E.W.
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