This is not so much a restaurant as a tiny atmospheric Irish bar. Having grown out of its minuscule basement into the bar upstairs it's always busy with tentacles of carousers often overflowing into the street, all the way down to Soho Square. As well as the food there is a spectacular collection of Irish whiskeys, sufficient to amaze even the most hardened whisk-o-phile. They also mix a fine list of delicious Guinness-inspired cocktails. Nowadays every pub and his dog is serving Magners cider, but The Toucan is possibly the only place in London selling it on tap. This is certainly not the place to come for a quiet bite to eat, and not for those who have an aversion to small dark spaces. However, it is the place to come if you want to combine drinking, dancing, revelry and a bite to eat.
Tiny Irish bar in Soho with a spectacular collection of Irish whiskeys.
19 Carlisle Street, Soho, London, W1D 3BX
Live music, rugby and plenty of Guinness are served here on St Patrick's Day weekend.
14-16 Rupert Street, Soho, London, W1D 6DF
Tacky O'Theme Pubs are busy enough on a normal week night, filled with all the office workers chasing a pint and a snog, but come St Patrick's Day they get absolutely rammed to the rafters with jubilant revellers. The parade goes pretty close to this one so it's perfect for a pit-stop. The cavernous interior, spreading across six levels, means it can only maintain a little bubble of atmosphere in each section, as well as a live band upstairs that won't disturb those who just fancy a bit of a blether. On the weekend before St Patrick's Day, the whole place will be a sea of Guinness, sing-song with live music and good cheer. Just one note of caution: make sure you stay close to your friends - this place is massive and easy to get lost in.
Top quality Guinness that's ideal for enjoying on St Patrick's Day
105 Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16 0UD
Tube: Manor House Station
The Guinness in this soothingly dark little Celtic den is nothing short of exceptional. Smooth, bitter, creamy and rich they serve up divine pints of the black stuff. Cavernous with cambered ceilings, this place feels endearingly authentic. A refurbishment has done no end of good without rupturing the age-old Irish artery that pumps Celtic tradition through the pub. Any revellers who step across its hallowed Gaelic threshold will receive one of the warmest welcomes in the capital. Guinness (that's all they expect you to drink) will be poured in its own time and brought to your table unprompted by staff employed to shower sincere smiles on their slightly inebriated patrons.
London's first Irish pub serves Guinness by draught and bottle.
66 Fleet Street, City, London, EC4Y 1HY
Visit this pub and you'll soon find out it's really not a long way to Tipperary. In fact it's merely a ten minute walk (stumble) from Blackfriars Tube. As London's first Irish pub, there's no better place to guzzle Guinness and toast the friendly folk from the Emerald Isle. Founded in 1700, by Dublin brewer SG Mooney, this lofty, narrow boozer was the first place to sell the black stuff, both bottled and draught. Suffolk's Greene King bought The Tipperary in the 1960s and restored it to its 18th century beauty. The floor mosaic is intricately peppered with shamrocks, while the walls are panelled in a rich dark wood. On both floors the pub is slung with huge mirrors and faded prints of Dublin and Cork. Typically, you'll come across a whole bunch of tourists visiting this charismatic little pub keen to enjoy a tipple in such a historically loaded venue. Not forgetting of course, the handful of Americans who come in every week claiming some sort of vague Irish ancestry.
The Irish-run Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park is hidden away in the back streets.
19 Perth Road, London, N4 3HB
Tube: Finsbury Park Station
The Irish-run Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park is a gem of a pub hidden away in the back streets of Stroud Green and five minutes' walk from Finsbury Park. Made up of two bars, two back rooms and an outside terrace set over two levels, the main front bar is arranged around a horseshoe-shaped bar with guitars, model aeroplanes, sporting trophies and a bicycle suspended from the ceiling. The back bar continues the theme and a third space beyond is where you'll find the pool table. On match days the crowds come to enjoy sporting action on the screens and the large back room offers a great atmosphere for rival fans. A further set of doors leads out into what has been described by The Guardian as "London's most unusual beer garden". The pub makes maximum use of its limited outside space with a multi-tiered outside terrace, overlooked by a leafy veranda. This can be a sun-trap during the more clement seasons, and is an excellent place to wile away a Sunday afternoon on one of the many wooden tables around the stairwell.
Go upmarket this St Patrick's Day at London's first Irish cocktail bar.
3 Chapel Market, Islington, London, N1 9EZ
Tube: Angel Station
Retro-trendy, infectiously popular, and staunchly pioneering London's first Irish cocktail bar is a welcome addition to Islington's portfolio of drinking venues. A heady mix of curved lines, rounded corners, and stylishly sharp club graphics, it's a pretty sophisticated little establishment. We love the Celtic wall displays interspersed with images of scantily clad female dancers. However, it's the winning drinks list that really makes the place stand out. You just have to sample the collection of outlandish cocktails designed by famous mixologist Tony Conigliaro of Zuma and 69 Colebrooke Row fame. From premium brand spirits like Belvedere and Grey Goose vodka to seriously rare whiskeys such as Kilbeggan, Tyroconnell and Middleton Very Rare, his creations come from the finest ingredients. Be warned, it's incredibly small. Customarily, however, the bar attracts a rather suave, good-looking sort so the intimacy may be rather welcome. Incidentally, the name comes from the Gaelic words 'heart' and 'soul' - not only is that pure genius but it really does say it all.
Excellent Guinness and a fine selection of bottled beers.
65 Kentish Town Road, London, NW1 8NY
At first glance you wouldn't put Quinn's down as an Irish pub - put the name aside and what you have is simply a great pub, not just another soulless Celtic-branded pub, a la O'Neil's. The Irish landlord and the fair smattering of punters from the Western Isle are what makes it Irish and this is reflected by the pleasant, convivial atmosphere. The beer selection will strike you (but not with its Irishness) - a long polished bar stretches away into the distance with over 20 pumps serving beers from all over the place, and possibly the best bottled selection in the Capital. Of course you can get excellent Guinness, but the pub is particularly notable for German and Belgian beers. It gets pretty raucous on St. Patrick's Day, so be prepared.
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