By Mark Crawford
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Aye, you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy an Irish pub. If you are looking for gaiety and good times, lively music, entertaining conversations and the wonderfulness of a perfectly pulled pint, an Irish pub should do the trick. Below are five Irish pubs in Wisconsin to greet you with a hearty “céad míle fáilte”—“a hundred thousand welcomes!”
County Clare Irish Pub is a visual delight – gleaming polished wood, stained glass windows and a cozy Waterford wood-burning stove. Shelves behind the bar are stocked with Irish and Scottish whiskeys. Next door the Irish restaurant offers plenty of traditional entrees—just save room for bread pudding with raisins, soaked in warm whiskey butter sauce. Guinness and Murphy’s Stout are Irish draft beers that contain nitrogen rather than CO2; when poured properly, they can float on top of other drafts, ciders and champagnes. A popular “mixed tap” is a Smithwick’s ale with a Guinness head.
Only 10 years old, Erin’s Snug Irish Pub has become a favorite meeting spot in Madison. It recreates an ‘old world’ feel with fireplaces and dark woodworking. The outdoor beer garden is a busy place on game days, with large-screen TVs and 20 beers on tap. Erin’s is open for breakfast—consider an Irish breakfast of Scotch eggs: hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fried. An evening delight is the Bailey's Irish Crème cheese cake.
Dublin Square Irish Pub is a festive place. Listen to live Irish music or sip a beer while throwing darts. The patio is open from spring through fall—a perfect spot to enjoy a cold pint in historic downtown La Crosse. A popular beer is the black and tan, with a frothy Guinness on top of Smithwick's Irish Ale. Menu items include Irish stew and corned beef and cabbage. If you’re feeling bold, order the six-pound “Emerald Isle Enormous Pot Pie.” If you finish within an hour your dinner is free.
Opened in 2008 by John and Anna McGuinness (yes, they are Irish!), the McGuinness Irish Pub offers live Irish music and a variety of beers and spirits. Specialty drinks include Irish coffee, Shamrock martinis and shots of the Sherriff of Knottingham. Bands play in the “Craic Agus Ceol” Room (Gaelic for “good times and music”), an inviting room with a hand-built fireplace. The pub even offers Irish language lessons on a regular basis. Come with an appetite—traditional menu items include steamed mussels smothered in an Irish yellow curry sauce.
Behind the gleaming wood bar are more than 100 different beers and 80 whiskeys and scotches. The interior is a mix of old and new. The owners retained the historic tin ceiling and back bar original bricks, but added new interior elements such as parquet floors. Irish crests decorate the walls. Try a Wexford Irish Ale (the original recipe dates back to 1810) as you enjoy a traditional dinner of “bangers and mash”—Irish sausages boiled in Guinness and spices, served with mashed potatoes.
Irish pubs are known for their friendly, welcoming ways and as a place to escape the cares of the day. Remember, “dà fhada an là tagann an tràthnóna”—“however long the day, the evening will come.”