Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In the name of St Patrick's Day, my favourite pubs in Vancouver

Today is of course St. Patrick's Day, and for the past 5 years or so Vancouver celebrated the event with a weekend parade. However, due to the Olympics and Paralympics, they decided to cancel it. Apparently everyone who organizes and coordinates the parade is too busy organizing and coordinating the Paralympics right now. Fair enough!

So what's going on in Vancouver tonight for St Patrick's Day? Well, the same ol' debauchery... people are heading to any fake Irish pub (and yes, they're ALL fake, except for the Irish Heather) and drinking loads of cheap green beer to commemorate. And they're going to get stupid drunk, you know it.

But you know, honestly? Despite my teenage obsession for everything U2 and all things Irish, despite the fact that the U2 plane (as in, the plane that the band U2 flies around in, not the spy plane) has been parked at YVR for seemingly weeks, or that Bono's in town (apparently) recording a collaborative version of K'naan's Waving Flag as a tribute for Haiti relief... or that, heck, even my eyes are green! Well... I've never celebrated St. Patrick's Day, ever. Not once. I don't think I've ever deliberately gone to the pub to drink beer in the name of St. Patrick's Day.

Today at work we were supposed to dress up in green. For a girl whose wardrobe has a significant green hue, I forgot to wear green. I wore grey. Is that telling? I don't know.

So what do I recommend doing on St. Patrick's Day in Vancouver?

Rule number one:

Avoid fake Irish pubs on Granville Street like Ceili's like the plague.


Run fast!

Instead, the only two Irish pubs I'd even consider venturing into would be The Irish Heather or the Shebeen Whiskey House, the two legitimately Irish venues in the city. They're as authentic as they come. Owned and operated by an Irish couple, but where else can you rock out to Pride (In the Name of Love) in front of a collection of retro Guinness knick knacks while drinking a McCallan's fine aged 12 year scotch while chowing down some curry chips and mushy peas while contemplating a Guinness braised pot pie, bangers and mash, or a Black Velvet? Where else do your waiters often speak to you in real Irish accents?

And if that doesn't work, I've always been a fan of The Morrissey. It's on Granville Street downtown, but it's not representative of typical Granville Street establishments, if you catch my drift. While not claiming to be Irish, they're certainly a legitimate pub for good beer, good food, and ultimately great music (an important element in any of my nights out). The atmosphere and layout is fantastic, especially since they've renovated with a much more stylish interior. They have a great import beer list. I am a fan.

If those won't do, the Alibi Room on the outskirts of Gastown would make a great retreat, if you don't mind wedging yourself on a picnic table bench. It has the best collection of local beer out of any pub, or so many people claim. It's for serious beer connoisseurs, of which I'm not, but I try. I try hard. Way back in the late 90's I used to come here for martinis and edimame with my fellow CDIS colleagues, back when edimame was exotic and learning Photoshop was cutting edge. Gillian Anderson partially owns it, and it was a popular hangout for film types way back in the 90's, when Gillian Anderson was actually relevant and Vancouver was the home of the X-Files. Holy, that seems like Vancouver of a different era now, doesn't it? But the Alibi Room is still very much relevant and hot on Vancouver's pub map.

If those three establishments won't do, find your way out to Stella's on Commercial for your Belgian beer fix. A nice cozy but lively environment with your favourite Belgian beer poured in their appropriate goblets. The food can be hit or miss, but it's often a hit, especially the duck confit and duck sausage with white bean. But if you're going to go, you have to eat. Belgian favourites like Gulden Draak and Piraat are so dangerous at 9+% alcohol, but so tasty and so delicious. And after three bottles of the stuff, you may start to forget where you are. But it's somehow okay because you're on Commercial Drive!

And finally, if all else fails, head back downtown to the Railway Club upstairs from the 7-11 on Dunsmuir and Seymour. This place has been around since forever. Literally, since the early 1930's - an impressive feat in No Fun City! They've got a great list of local brews, plus a serious import list which still surprises me every time. I mean, I don't have to go to Stella's for my fix of Gulden Draak? It gets me every time! Live bands, model trains, and 3 separate bars. Pretentiousness-be-gone, which is rare for Vancouver these days. Could life be any better? Well, yes... if they only reopened their patio.

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