The Drinking of the Green
Even if you're not Irish, there's a good chance you're heading out to one of the area's many pubs on Saturday. Some tips: No matter which bar you're going to, arrive early. A perfect storm of NCAA basketball games, the Six Nations Rugby (Ireland v. Italy) and March 17th falling on a Saturday means that many pubs will be packed earlier than usual, and probably with more revelers than if the holiday had fallen on a weekday.
Lines at some of the more famous pubs will be unmanageable by happy hour, and you may wind up waiting outside for some time. If you're meeting friends, you may want to make backup plans to meet at a non-Irish bar nearby if it looks like you won't get in. Also, make sure you have enough money, as paying with plastic can slow the bar down, and some of the larger bars, such as Ireland's Four Fields, go cash-only for the day. If you need to sit down (especially for medical reasons), call ahead -- a number of bars on this list are removing most, if not all, of their seats to make room for more patrons. Finally, never, ever drink the green beer.
Before we get started with what's happening on St. Patrick's big day, here's a word of advice: SoberRide. We know you'll be having a pint of Guinness or two, and maybe a shot of Jameson here or there, so be safe. Between 4 p.m. March 17 and 6 a.m. March 18, you can get a free ride home from SoberRide if you dial 1-800-200-TAXI. You may have to wait for your cab, but a 30-minute wait is better than getting into a dangerous situation.
Kegs and Eggs
Always one of the biggest St. Patrick's Day parties in town, Kegs and Eggs has a simple premise: Stop for breakfast and a Guinness on the way to the office. After seven years of parties at the now closed Lulu's Club Mardi Gras, Kegs and Eggs moves to Fur this year, so it's convenient for those who drive in on Route 50 or ride the Red Line to work. Saliva, Ben Kweller and Carbon Leaf perform at Friday's free event, which is sponsored by Guinness and DC101. Doors open at 7:30, and the music gets underway around 8. You must be 21 to get into the event.
The Big Jig
Scythian, our favorite local Celtic band, has won legions of followers up and down the East Coast for its hyperactive blend of traditional Celtic tunes, Irish rock covers, klezmer and folk tunes, fronted by the dueling (and classically trained) fiddles of Joe Crosby and Leks Fedoryka. They're young, they're lively and they'll have you singing along and participating in drinking games by the end of the show. The guys played in Manhattan on St. Patrick's Day last year, but vocalist Dan Fedoryka says "there were so many people who were disappointed that we weren't playing down here" that the band is hosting its own party on the 17th. Scythian's ambitious plan is to take over Mount Vernon Square for the day, with live music, Irish dancers from local schools, bagpipers and plenty of beer. (Not to worry, moms and dads -- there will be face-painting and other kid-friendly activities early in the afternoon.) Gates open at 11, Scythian will play four long sets until 9, and beer is just $2.50 all day. Fresh off its success at the Shamrock Fest last weekend, the band expects 3,000 to 5,000 people to attend throughout the day.
Morning Mayhem begins at McFadden's at 8 a.m. Early arrivals get the best deals: a free breakfast buffet until 9 and $1 Miller Lites until 10. Beer prices rise to $2 from 10 until 1 and then $3 until 4. There will be shooter and food specials for late arrivals.
Shamrocks and Shenanigans
Once the party dies down at McFadden's, the promoters want you to head over their other shindig, Shamrocks and Shenanigans at Rumors. Take advantage of dirt-cheap 17-cent Miller Lite drafts from 4 to 6, $1.17 drafts from 6 to 8, and $2.17 pints from 8 until 10. Don't forget about the half-price appetizers and burgers to soak it all up. There will also be Mardi Gras-style green beads and a DJ.
St. Patty's Day Blowout
Ballston may have lost the Shamrock Festival to RFK Stadium this year, but there's still a party in the neighborhood on St. Patrick's Day. Gonzo's Nose and the Monster Band bring the crowd-pleasing cover tunes to the Front Page, NCAA basketball games play on the bar's numerous TVs and the bar's even expanding into the atrium of the office building next door to hold all the revelers. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the cover charge is $5 early. It will rise as the night goes on.
The 51st State
The 51st State has cooler Guinness memorabilia on the walls than any Irish pub in D.C., and on Saturday, the Foggy Bottom tavern is offering a number of specials, including $5 Guinness pints, $5 Jameson whiskey and $2 shooters. There will be giveaways throughout the night, including gift certificates, and everyone can enter to a drawing for a trip for two to Dublin. (The lucky winner will be announced on Saturday, March 24.) Doors open at 11, and there's a full lunch menu until 2.
Faith and Begorrah! Biddy Mulligan's -- an attractive Irish bar in a bustling Irish hotel -- is treating St. Patrick's Day like any other night. There's no music, cover charge or corny celebration planned, which might just make this the best party in town.
The Dubliner has been a Capitol Hill institution for more than three decades. It's always packed on St. Patrick's Day, often with lines curling around the block. Inside, there's live music from three performers on two stages, so someone will be playing at all times. (John McGrath and Morris Minor are the featured artists.) The Dubliner sets up three temporary bars to help get everyone served faster, and full lunch and dinner menus are available. Doors open at 10 a.m., and there's a $10 cover all day.
As the only Irish bar near U Street, Duffy's should be busy on Saturday, especially if folks going to the sold-out Explosions in the Sky concert at the 9:30 club stop in for a pre- or post-concert pint. Doors open at noon, and there's a DJ playing Irish music from 3 p.m. until late.
An entire week of events leads up to St. Patrick's Day, but it's the last few days that are the most interesting. On Thursday, the Celtic rock band Johnny Jump Up plays the best of Van Morrison and the Wolf Tones. There's a $5 cover. Friday night brings a New Year's Eve-style countdown to midnight, with giveaways and specials. The doors open bright and early at 7:30 on Saturday morning for the Six Nations, with Ireland visiting Italy. (This should be a walkover for Ireland, which will only brighten the celebrations.) France-Scotland and Wales-England follow. Then it's time for the party, with live music and Irish dancers all day long. Unlike a number of other pubs, Fado is offering a full menu from opening till at least 7 p.m., and possibly limited offerings after that. There's a $20 cover charge if you come for the rugby; it's $10 after the games.
Finn Mac Cool's
Opening at 9 a.m., Finn Mac Cool's plans to offer drink specials all day, including $6 beer-and-a-shot combos. (Sorry, but I refuse to use the name of that drink.) Four satellite bars will augment the two permanent serving stations to keep drinks flowing. In the afternoon, there's a buffet with Irish food for $4 a plate. One of the better musical lineups in town sees the Flying Cows of Ventry and 40 Thieves take the stage. Finn's will start charging a $10 cover around 2.
Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle
As it has for years, Flanagan's opens its doors early for a bit of Irish sport: The Gaelic Athletic Association's All-Ireland club soccer final, with Crossmaglen Rangers and Dr. Croke's of Killarney, beginning at 9 a.m. Live music by Kevin James begins at 11 a.m. and should last all day. A temporary bar is being set up on the patio to speed drink orders and allow smokers to hang out outside. Reservations are required for lunch and dinner, though making reservations allows you to skip the cover charge. (It hasn't been determined yet, the owners say, but there will be one.)
Ireland's Four Courts
The Court House pub celebrates its 11th anniversary on Thursday by giving away a free trip to Ireland, and even if you don't win, there's still live music from 9 to close. On Saturday, doors open at 10 a.m. As in previous years, there will be a large tent in the back parking lot, complete with its own bar, to handle the overflow crowds. Lunch is served until 2 p.m. After that, all the furniture is removed, the crowds start to arrive and the music picks up. Chris O'Connell performs from 3 to 6, followed by Sanford Markley for the rest of the evening. A $10 cover is levied once the music starts, and it's worth a reminder that the pub has a nonsmoking bar and dining room -- one of the few in Virginia.
Ireland's Four Fields
Here's what you won't find at the Four Fields on Saint Patrick's Day: Seats, tables, hot food or credit cards. But it'll still be packed with people who come to see Atlantic Bridge's sets of traditional Irish favorites while munching on cold corned beef sandwiches. Don't forget to hit the ATM, because there's a $10 cover at the door, and the bar only takes cash.
Ireland's Four Provinces
Food is really the focus in Falls Church, with three seatings for a three-course lunch (at 11, 1 and 3, $26.95) and a similar number for a three-course dinner (5, 7 and 9, $37.95). Both feature a menu of traditional favorites like corned beef and cabbage, salmon and Irish strew. The bar itself is first-come, first-served, though there's also a satellite bar on the tented patio. Singer Brook Yoder performs from 11 a.m. until midnight.
Let's start a pool: How many times will Pat Garvey and friends perform "The Unicorn Song" or "The Wild Rover" on St. Patrick's Day? "The Unicorn Song" is pub owner Pat Troy's signature party trick, and if you head to Ireland's Own, you better like singing and acting along, or at least clapping on command. A heated tent on the patio has reservations-required lunch and dinner seatings, while the standing-room-only main restaurant will be packed with folks enjoying a pint and live music.
Saturday's marathon man award goes to the staff of the Irish Channel, who will open the doors at 7 a.m. and not close them until 3 a.m. Sunday. Such dedication. They'll even be serving food until 1 a.m. Two tents outside provide extra space and extra taps. Singer Brian Gaffney, the former owner of Nanny O'Brien's, takes the stage at noon and provides entertainment for the rest of the day. Expect to pay a cover charge in the $5 to $10 range.
Kelly's Irish Times
It's business as usual for Irish Times: Doors open at 10, Pete Papageorge plays a mix of Irish and classic rock tunes on his guitar from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and a DJ spins in the dark, collegiate-party-like basement. It's going to be packed with 20-somethings. There's a $10 cover.
Kirkpatrick's - Ashburn
Radio Mime performs at the pub's five-year anniversary party on Friday night, but Saturday is really the big day, with an Irish menu, Irish dancers and live music from 11 a.m. to close. Doug and Melanie and Rocky Guttman play with Irish music during the morning and afternoon, and Double Dog Dare plays classic rock later at night. As always, there's no cover charge.
Kirkpatrick's - Dominion Valley
Like its sister bar in Ashburn, Kirkpatrick's is celebrating St. Patrick's Day with Irish food, step dancing performances and live music, all without a cover charge. Manny Bernardo kicks things off at 11, followed by Laurence McKenna and Rocky Guttman.
There's no cover at the Arlington sports pub, which opens at 7 a.m. to show English soccer. Tape-delayed rugby matches are shown later in the day, though not Ireland's.
Mackey's Public House - Washington
Mackey's, the bastion of Irishness in downtown Washington, features live music and DJs from 11 to 9. The K Street patio will be tented and fitted with its own satellite bar so you don't have to go inside for a drink. There's a $10 cover charge.
Mackey's Public House - Crystal City
The Patty Reese Duo performs Irish music from 3 to 7, followed by a DJ spinning regular dance music. Doors open at 11, and a full menu will be available all day.
McGinty's Public House
Now that Martin O'Malley is governor of Maryland, what are a couple of guys from his band, O'Malley's March, supposed to do? The answer is a new band called Shamrock Rooster, and you can check out its traditional Irish-meets-pedal-steel-country sound tonight in Silver Spring, beginning at 9. It's the climax of the pub's first St. Patrick's Day party, which also includes bagpipers, step dancers and -- sigh -- green beer. A $10 cover is in effect after 5.
Murphy's of Alexandria
Old Town's venerable pub doesn't take lunch or dinner reservations or charge a cover on St. Patrick's Day, which traditionally leads to lines out the door. Doors open at 8 a.m. for the Six Nations rugby (for which there's a $20 cover) and 9 a.m. for the general public. Tinker's Dam will be performing in the afternoon and evening, along with Tim O'Kane and Rocky Guttman.
Murphy's of D.C.
Here's something you don't hear every St. Patrick's Day: Murphy's is offering drink specials on Saturday. (Organizers haven't decided what they'll be, but say there will be discounts.) Live music starts at 2 p.m., and there's a $10 cover after 5.
Nanny's first St. Patrick's Day under new management finds it welcoming an Irish band called Bloody Onions and a pair of DJs. Doors open at 9 a.m., and while there won't be any tables or chairs for the day -- just a few benches -- some food will be available. Admission is $10.
Opening at 8 a.m. for a kegs and eggs party with a traditional Irish breakfast and pints of Guinness, O'Faolain's has live music by Danny Schneible and Willem Dicke from 11 to close. Irish step dancers perform at 3:30. Dinner reservations are available at 5 and 8 with a $39.95 set-price menu. If you just want to go to the bar, there's a $10 cover charge after 3.
After replacing Molly Malone's in Clarendon last year, O'Sullivan's is trying to make its mark in Arlington's crowded bar scene. Today's festivities include a kegs and eggs breakfast at 8 a.m., performances by Irish pipers, young step dancers and three bands. A limited menu of food will be available all day. There's a $10 cover charge after noon.
The Great Falls saloon has a fine traditional pub and a cozy room called "the snuggery," but an outdoor tent is being added for the day. (While the tent opens at 9, the indoor sections of the pub open at 10.) Connor Malone performs in the pub from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Don Cobert and the Sarah Croker Trio entertain dinners in the snug, where a two-course meal is offered for $35. If you're not eating, there's a $10 cover.
Ri-Ra - Arlington
Doors at the gorgeous two-level pub open at 9 a.m. and since there's a limited menu and no reservations, you'll want to arrive early for the traditional Irish jam session, or seisiun, which runs from 2 to 6. Philadelphia post-punk rockers Eleven:Eleven perform from 9 to 1. Ri-Ra will begin charging a $10 cover in the afternoon.
Ri-Ra - Bethesda
There's no cover at Ri-Ra, but then again, there are no drink specials, either. Doors open at 9, and there's traditional Irish music from noon to 3. Anyone is welcome to bring an instrument and play along. Acoustic rockers Alowishious Farhatt perform from 4 to 8, followed by the band Misspent Youth from 10 to close.
Sine has neither live music nor a cover charge, but it is offering green beer (a steal at only $5) and an all-you-can-eat buffet of Irish favorites like corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie, sausages and potatoes. It's $14.95 and offered from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Satellite bars throughout the pub should speed drink service.
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