How to Navigate St. Patrick's Day Bars

By Mary Johnson on March 15, 2012 3:53pm 

People celebrate after the 248th annual St. Patrick's Day parade March 17, 2009 in New York City. The parade honors the patron saint of Irleand and marched for the first time on March 17, 1762, fourteen years before the Declaration of Independence.
People celebrate after the 248th annual St. Patrick's Day parade March 17, 2009 in New York City. The parade honors the patron saint of Irleand and marched for the first time on March 17, 1762, fourteen years before the Declaration of Independence.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — You don't need the luck of the Irish to land a great spot at the bar on St. Patrick's Day.

DNAinfo has collected a host of tips to surviving the St. Patrick’s Day chaos, from finding the best way to get into Murray Hill's most festive bars, to finding a place along the Fifth Avenue parade route, to getting through the transit disruptions.

Experts say a great St. Patty's Day takes pre-planning, organization and a little flexibility. Here are some of their recommendations:

What Time Should You Get Started?

The early bird gets the Guinness, according to veteran St. Patrick's Day revelers.

The parade begins around 11 a.m. at East 44th Street and Fifth Avenue, but along Second Avenue — the unofficial hub of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities — bars will start opening as early as 9 a.m., serving Irish breakfasts with pints on the side. At some spots, the earlier people arrive, the cheaper the booze.

Sean Murphy, owner of New York nightlife guide MurphGuide.com, said morning hours are a good time to secure a spot, but the key for St. Patrick’s Day partiers is to pace themselves.

“Being drunk before noon is inexcusable,” said Murphy. “It’s a long day. Why should you take yourself out of the game before the day even starts?”

Pubs across the city will be exceedingly crowded on Saturday, so Murphy recommends that those planning to stick to one location arrive early. For those planning on hopping from bar to bar throughout the day, hit the ATM before you go — since cash is king — he said. Otherwise, snuggle up to a table and start a tab.

Where are the Best Bars for St. Patrick's Day?

MurphGuide.com has compiled an exhaustive listing of Irish bars and events across the city in honor of Saturday’s celebration.

“I write about nightlife 24/7, 365,” Murphy said. “But this time is the holiday season for Irish folks.”

Some of his top destinations include Ulysses on Stone Street downtown, which will feature The Canny Brothers band on St. Patrick’s Day. The Porterhouse at Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street, which touts itself as the oldest building and tavern in New York City, will present a live performance by The Cunningham Brothers.

Pub crawls are one of many options for those looking to party on St. Patrick's Day in New York City.
Pub crawls are one of many options for those looking to party on St. Patrick's Day in New York City.
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Facebook/I Love Pub Crawls

The Mickey Finns will be playing at Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar on Second Avenue near East 29th Street, and there will be live music all day at Connolly’s on East 47th Street near Madison Avenue.

Saloon, on York Avenue between East 83rd and 84th streets, Banshee Pub on First Avenue near East 74th Street and the Gael Pub on Third Avenue near East 83rd Street are some of the top places where parade marchers tend to gather in pubs on the Upper East Side after the event ends, Murphy said.

Joe’s Pub on Lafayette Street in the East Village will host its annual Irish rock n’ roll show, Wild Irish Roses, featuring top-notch Irish musicians, Murphy said, calling it his favorite St. Patrick’s Day event.

Webster Hall, also in the East Village, will hold its first annual Irish Fest. Beginning Saturday at noon, the event will feature two Irish bands, a bagpiper band, leprechauns and televised viewing of the Ireland v. England rugby match.

How Should I Get There?

Traffic will undoubtedly leave much of Midtown and the Upper East Side in a snarl on Saturday, and police will be on high alert for drunken drivers, so if you're planning to raise a pint, it's best to stick to public transportation.

The M1, M2, M3 and M4 buses will be detoured because of the parade traveling up Fifth Avenue, but most trains will be operating normally on Saturday, according to the MTA’s website. The 7 train will not be running between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square, but the E, Q, F, N and S trains will be operating, and free shuttle bus service is available along the route.

What Should I Wear?

Lucky for parade goers and pub crawlers, the weather on Saturday is expected to be mostly sunny, with a high around 63 degrees and a low of 50. But although strategic layering won’t be necessary, it still pays to plan one’s attire appropriately.

Pub crawl veterans advise wearing comfortable shoes, but partiers should also plan on having more than a few drinks spilled on them throughout the course of the day. Pick footwear that can either be thrown out the next day or that will survive even the most epic St. Patrick’s Day activities.

How Can I Join a Pub Crawl?

Late to the game but want to roll with a crowd? Several pub crawls likely to rival SantaCon in size are expected to stumble through Manhattan on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Shamrock Shuffle launches a pub crawl at 11 a.m. that trolls bars mainly on the east side south of East 55th Street. The $20 ticket price comes with the promise of discounted cocktails at a slew of bars both Irish and not.

The Saint Patty's Pub Crawl is a three-day event, beginning Friday at 5 p.m. with the so-called St. Patrick’s Day “happy hour.” The main event on Saturday kicks off at 10 a.m., and then the “hangover” starts at noon on Sunday. The crawl offers $1 domestic drafts, $2 domestic bottles, $3 well drinks and $4 orders of Jameson.

Participants should make sure to bring photo IDs with them. Arm bands will doled out to ensure swift, effortless entry to all bars along the crawl.

Where Can I Use the Bathroom?

Although pub crawlers can use the facilities at all the participating pubs, emergencies can always arrive en route to a destination, veterans say. For those bar hopping along Second Avenue, there are several Starbucks locations in the area, including one on East 50th and Second Avenue, on East 52nd Street between Third and Lexington, on East 32nd Street and Second Avenue and on East 23rd Street near Lexington Avenue.

Although Starbucks has become known as the unofficial public restroom of New York City, there have been tales of the ubiquitous coffee chain turning away those who try to pee without making a purchase, so perhaps pick up a bottle of water or a quick cup of coffee before hitting the next bar.

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