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The Baltimore Sun

St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl: Hartford-Style

Bars and pubs around Hartford will be serving up bands, beers and bagpipes all week long. Whether you're in the mood for a traditional corned beef dinner with a properly poured 'Black and Tan,' or a burger with a green Bud Light – Hartford has plenty of places offering the Irish spirit.

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Here are spots worth visiting if celebrating St. Paddy's Day is your aim.

The Half Door
270 Sisson Ave
(860) 232-7827

The Half Door is as authentic an Irish pub as Hartford has. One of the state's largest selections of European ales on tap, regular performances by bands from Ireland and a cozy wood paneled interior give the Half Door its genuine character.

Irish acts including Seven Nations -- on Tuesday and The Bards on Wednesday highlight a week of 18 or 19 bands at The Half Door.

Guinness is just one of 72 beers served at The Half Door, most of which are from Europe. With so many to choose from, the friendly and knowledgeable bartender is happy to assist even when the place gets crowded.

And the place does get crowded. Everyone from University of Hartford students to business people commuting back to the suburbs come to the Half Door. A testament to its authenticity is the number of first and second generation Irish who frequent the bar.

The bar opens at 8 a.m. Sat., March 12 and will be serving a traditional Irish breakfast before the parade. Performances by five bands will follow.

Parade day draws a young crowd, but families having lunch or dinner will also feel comfortable and welcomed.

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McKinnon's Irish Pub
114 Asylum St
(860) 524-8174

McKinnon's is a parade day hot spot. "We have a lot of fun here," said manager Brandon Harper.

With a pool table, video poker and a Hartford Whalers banner on the ceiling, McKinnon's does not have the authentic Irish charm of the Half Door. What it's got is a great party atmosphere right on the parade route.

No one will turn their nose up at you if you order a Bud in a bottle, but McKinnon's prides itself on pouring a Guinness as well as any bar in Hartford. Harper said he hopes to be serving up burgers and corned beef sandwiches outside on parade day.

McKinnon's opens at 9 a.m. Saturday. Steve McCarthy performs after the parade in the afternoon and the light-hearted duo of Greg and Mark entertain Saturday night. Bagpipers -- a regular at McKinnon's – perform on Thursday, March 17.

The party atmosphere attracts a younger crowd. Break out the 'Kiss Me, I'm Irish' T-shirt -- this is a place for singles to meet.

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Vaughan's Public House
59 Pratt Street
(860) 882-1560

This will be the first St. Paddy's Day for Vaughan's, which opened in July, but they are sure to do it up right. Looking over a packed bar a few weeks ago, Manager Iris McNamara boasted, "It's always like this."

The beauty of Vaughan's is in the details. Patrons are greeted by Celtic knot designs etched in glass and bartenders dressed in black and tan. Watching over it all is a brown-toned mural of three old men drinking beer surrounded by images of celebrities with Irish heritage, including Elvis Presley, President John F. Kennedy and U2. The place is upscale while still being warm and welcoming.

The pub kicks off the week Friday, March 11 with the band Rathkealtair. Then Saturday, March 12, Dicey Riley, The Dublin Duo, and Two For the Road play Vaughan's. Irish step dancers will also perform Saturday. Calley McGrane & the Exiles are featured Thursday, March 17.

Vaughan's opens at 8 a.m. Saturday with 12 European drafts on tap. The pub will serve a limited menu Saturday, but corned beef and shepherd's pie are sure to be on it, McNamara says.

The two-level pub, located in the old Scarlett O'Hara's, seems to draw an over-30 crowd, but is sure to draw in a younger set for the shows.

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The Standing Stone
111 Allyn St
(860) 246-4400

The Standing Stone is known as the quieter, more mellow pub next to its sister bar, The Brickyard Cafe. But on St. Patrick's Day and the day of the parade, The Standing Stone takes center stage.

"We're open all day, all night," said bartender Heather Kinsley of parade day.

The bar opens at 9:30 Saturday morning. The bar is known as one of the best spots for live music in Hartford. St. Patrick's week is no different. Sack 'n' Friends play the Standing Stone Friday and Ultra Radio hosts Saturday night's show. Kenny & Friends play an acoustic jam every Wednesday.

You'll have to get your corned beef elsewhere; the Standing Stone doesn't serve food. The bar offers more than 27 drafts and will have Irish coffee on parade day, Kinsley says.

The long narrow pub packs them in every weekend night attracting a crowd largely in their mid-to-late 20s. The party atmosphere is more laid-back than at some downtown bars, which makes it a great place to hang out and listen to music.

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Other St. Patrick's Day Events at Hartford Bars

Arch Street Tavern
85 Arch Street
(860) 246-7610
Sat. March 12 – Traditional Irish feast and music by Signs of Life
Thurs. March 17 – DJ Donny Anderson

Bourbon Street North
70 Union Place
(860) 525-1014.
Sat. March 12 – Doors open at 11 a.m. Music by Rathkeltair
All you can eat Irish Buffet $15 with unlimited Guinness drafts till 6 p.m. Irish step dancers.

City Steam
942 Main Street
(860) 525-1600
Thurs., March 17- Alabama Jubilee

Club Blu
183-191 Ann Street
(860) 241-0332
Sat. March 12 – No Cover, Doors Open at 10 a.m.
Thurs. March 17 – St. Patty's Day Bash with Mac & Jamie, drink specials

Mad Dawg's Rock N Roll Saloon
76 Union Place
(860) 244-DAWG
Sat. March 12 - Open at 8 a.m. for parade.

Mayor Mike's Restaurant
283 Asylum Street
(860) 522-6453
Sat. March 12 – Irish Buffet $10, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Up Or On The Rocks
50 Union Place
(860) 247-6256
Sat. March 12 - Hartford Police Department Emerald Society Party $20 donation
Thurs. March 17 – Guinness Girls and Concrete Jungle

Wood -n- Tap
99 Sisson Avenue
(860) 232-TAPS
Fri. March 11 through Thurs. March 17. - Live music, step dancers, and an authentic Irish menu.

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