A Guinness or whiskey, anyone? As the patron saint of Ireland is celebrated on St Patrick’s Day this month, Sam Rogg enjoys a drink in some of London’s most authentic Irish pubs
Happy St Patrick’s Day! Enjoy a pint of Guinness or two at an authentic Irish pub.
If you’re in London on St Patrick’s Day (17 Mar) then you’re in for a treat as the city turns green with revellers eager to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.
Expect Irish dancing, traditional songs and a spectacular parade in Trafalgar Square. But celebrating all things Irish needn’t be restricted to one day of the year in London because in this city you’re never far from an authentic Irish pub, famed for friendly staff, hearty food and perfectly poured pints of Guinness.
The first bar to serve ‘the black stuff’ (Guinness) outside of Ireland was The
Tipperary in Fleet Street. The Grade II-listed building is London’s oldest Irish pub, built around 1605 with stones from a monastery which enabled it to survive the Great Fire of London in 1666. In addition to the iconic stout, you’ll find more than a dozen Irish whiskies to choose from. It’s small but quaint, the food is tasty and affordable – and the music isn’t too loud (66 Fleet St, EC4Y 1HT).
Get lost inside The Porterhouse, which is a veritable maze of a pub in the heart of Covent Garden. Spanning 12 levels, it boasts everything a good Irish pub should have: live music, affordable, hearty Sunday roasts and a huge selection of Irish beers. The stout is handcrafted in Ireland and shipped over, so expect an authentic taste of the Emerald Isle. This is Irish pubbing at its most restrained – no shamrocks or novelty leprechauns here! (21-22 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA).
It might not look like much from the outside, but The Toucan off Soho Square is a cosy pub that manages to be traditionally Irish and quintessentially London at the same time. Head here for a well-poured pint surrounded by Guinness-themed décor, accompanied by a packet of Taytos (Irish crisps). It can get very busy, particularly on a Friday night, but the outside area is usually heated, so you can stay warm under the stars if there’s no room inside. Legend has it that rock icon Jimi Hendrix once performed in the basement (19 Carlisle St, W1D 3BY).
The award for the most upmarket Irish pub must surely go to The Cow in Notting Hill, where you can order Guinness with a side of rock oysters. This used to be a popular and inexpensive combination in 19th-century Ireland; now it’s a bit more decadent. Try the beef and Guinness pie with spring greens and mash potato, and if you can resist a pint of the black nectar, there are worthwhile wines to try (89 Westbourne Park Rd, W25 QH).
Clockwise from this image: St Patrick’s Day celebrations; The Porterhouse; a pint of Guinness Below: Irish whiskey