St. Patrick's Day Toronto 2014
St. Patrick's Day in Toronto tends to get a lot of flack. People like to call it amateur hour, and it's often lamented that the day has become simply an excuse to drink excessively and dress provocatively in green kitsch. And while there's some merit to that, people who love St. Patrick's Day would argue that the day is a great excuse to drink excessively and dress provocatively in green kitsch.
Both sides clearly have their points, and so to make everyone happy I've compiled this list of Toronto's top St. Patrick's Day parties, which take place both on and before the official March 17th date. You can either take note of them so as to avoid the throngs of party-goers wearing green plastic crap and getting shitfaced on Guinness and Jameson, or you can use this as your personal guide to the best places to wear green plastic crap while getting shitfaced on Guinness and Jameson! SlĂĄinte!
For all your drinking needs, you might also want to check out these other handy resources:
PRE-ST. PATRICK'S DAY
St. Patrick's Day Loft and Laneway Party at 2nd Floor Events
Get a jumpstart on St. Patrick's Day at this loft and laneway party this Saturday March 15th. Expect a full day filled with classic festivities. Expect to hear sounds from some of Toronto's top local DJ's. Free ping pong will be offered from 2-6pm downstairs at Spin. Plus, there's food courtesy of Micha Kennedy Fries and Caplansky's Food Truck.
Steam Whistle Brewery
Regardless of the occasion, you can typically count on Steam Whistle's parties to provide two things: people dressed up and having a good time and copious amounts of beer. The party kicks off at 2pm on Saturday, goes to midnight and costs $20 to get in. There's entertainment from Brogue, Poor Angus, and the Woodgate-Shamrock Irish Dancers and some of the proceeds will help support the Toronto St. Patrick's Day Parade Society. Arguably the biggest, loudest, most crowded shindig on this list and undoubtedly your best bet for fresh, local beer.
This year, Ceili cottage has five full days of events leading up to St. Patrick's day, beginning on Thursday the 13th with an Irish music jam session and a Guinness pouring contest in their yurt. On Friday there's a cocktail soiree where the appropriate attire is apparently "smoking jackets, Raybans, big hats, fascinators, and fabulous shoes." On Saturday there's a meet, greet and sampling with John Cashman of Cooley Irish Whiskey, and on Sunday there's the St. Patrick's Open Oyster Shucking Contest. On the big day, they'll open at 11am with live music and Irish dancing throughout the day.
In what seems like a good way to test your stomach's mettle, Friday at Au Sibin is "Black Friday" with $6 Guinness and $3 JĂ¤germeister shots. Presumably, if you don't have too much of a "Black Saturday" as a result, you can head back to Au Sibin for live music all weekend, 32oz pitchers of Harp for $9.50 on Sunday and, for Monday, "Two floors of Madness!" including a live celtic jam session and $3.45 shots of Jameson.
On Friday and Saturday night, PJ O'Brien's will feature music from Mike O'Grady, then on Sunday the bar opens at 11am and live music kicks off at 3pm with Mike O'Grady. On St Patrick's day, there's live music starting at 2pm with Amore and then from 6pm onwards it's (can you take a guess?) Mike O'Grady. There will also be Irish dancers on Sunday and Monday (no word on whether or not Mike O'Grady will also be dancing).
Stout Irish Pub
Cabbagetown's best pub gets the party started on Friday and features the ol' buy a litre of Steam Whistle and keep the leprechaun boot deal all weekend (presumably these are big leprechauns). On Sunday and Monday there's music from Celtic duo The Fair Wind, $5 jello shots all weekend, and a complimentary Jameson's sampling on Sunday between 5pm and 7pm. Plus there's face painting. Because Ireland.
Quinn's Steakhouse and Irish Bar
The Sheraton Centre's Irish bar (and sister pub to PJ O'Brien's and The Irish Embassy) will feature a similar lineup to the Embassy given that they too will feature the music of Rick and Bauer and Friends as well as The Wheelhouse Band between the 14th and 17th, but they're also throwing in a band called Raggle Taggle Gypsies Friday night, so there's that. Arguably the best place this weekend to find travelling business people drinking Irish drinks and making bad decisions.
WHERE TO GO ON MARCH 17TH
Allen's and Dora Keogh
Popular adjacent sister bars on the Danforth, Allen's and Dora will likely both be busy on Monday. Both venues will feature a menu showcasing contemporary and traditional Irish food and live music kicks off at 1pm. Dora will have Dab Quigley and Patrick Ourceau playing until 3pm. The Julian Taylor Band takes the stage at 3:30pm and from 8pm until closing there's music from The Gurriers. Next door at Allen's, traditional Irish music begins at 3:15pm, then The Aideen O'Brien Band takes the stage at 8pm. Admission to both bars is $10.
Mill Street's Brew Pub's St. Patrick's Day Brewmaster's Dinner
Join Joel Manning and the folks at Mill Street Brew pub on Friday for a five-course meal that incudes dubblin coddle, spicy pecan pub salad and Irish red jus corned beer colcannon. Naturally, each course is paired with a delicious Mill Street beer, including the brand-spanking-new (and thus far only available in Ottawa) Grapefruit League Imperial IPA. Tickets are $59.99
Mill Street Beer Hall
Next door to the brewpub, The Beer Hall will be celebrating with live music from The Steel City Rovers beginning at 5pm and they'll be serving beer flights featuring Cobblestone Stout, Vanilla Porter, Coffee Porter, and Valley Red Cream Ale. Additionally, there will be $10 stein specials on all day and complimentary appetizers at 5pm.
Brazen Head, The Foggy Dew, Murphy's Law, The Pour House, Pogue Mahone and Watermark
Let's be honest, for the entire FAB Concepts line-up of Irish pubs, St. Patrick's Day is basically Christmas. Their websites feature countdown clocks year-round and I imagine that March 17 usually accounts for a large chunk of their annual profits. In short, you can assume that all their locations will be a safe bet for raucous, vaguely-Irish overindulging on Monday and probably most of the weekend, too. And just to make sure you're wearing green, all of the FAB Concepts owned Irish pubs are offering a $15 St. Paddy's Day t-shirt that allows you to bypass the line at any of their locations on Monday. Binge-drinking guilt easement: $5 from every t-shirt sale goes toward Muscular Dystrophy. You're drinking for a cause!
The Galway Arms
Let's be honest, the details don't matter because if you live in Etobicoke and you're staying in your neighbourhood for St. Patirck's day, you're going to The Galway Arms. Ford Country's best bet for a well-poured Guinness is guaranteed to be busy on Monday (and probably all weekend, too). Get there early.
The Gladstone will feature food and drink specials on Monday and has brought in two DJs to mark the occasion. There will be musical selections from DJs AJ Frick (of Abracadabra) and Christian Hamilton (of Dementia 13). The listing for the event is the only one I've seen that explicitly tells you NOT to bring your cat, so pet owners take note.
The Irish Embassy
The Irish Embassy is celebrating St. Patrick with a full line-up of Irish musicians, including Rick Bauer and Friends all weekend long and The Wheelhouse Band on Monday evening. There will also be Irish Dancers from the Doyle Academy and a menu that includes Irish stews and corned beef. There's no cover so you can probably expect the place to be rammed most of the weekend and in particular on Sunday before, after and during the St. Patrick's day parade.
Currently celebrating their five year anniversary all week, The Roy is already offering up $5 specials March 10th-14th and they will roll the party right into St. Patrick's day celebrations on Monday with music from The Better Half from 3pm-8 pm and Irish Stew to soak up some of the booze.
Beau's All Natural and Rodney Dangerfood at The Drake
One of Ontario's favourite craft brewers is throwing a St. Patrick's Day party and everyone is invited. Join Ottawa's Beau's All Natural Brewing Company at The Drake on Monday where chef Jon Koplimae of Rodney Dangerfood will be serving up Hush Puppies made with Beau's Lugtread and Irish Stew Poutine. The soundtrack will be classic Irish Rovers and The Mahones and, to cover your "green beer" needs, there will be plenty of Beau's Tom Green Milk Stout. Get it?
FOR THE ANTI-ST PATRICK'S SET
$5 pints Mondays at barVolo
Since St. Patrick's day happens to fall on a Monday this year, I'll be taking refuge from the drunken throngs at this cozy Yonge Street craft beer institution where you'll find select pints available for just $5 every Monday. There won't be any green beer and, if you're out on your own stumbling, green-clad pub crawl, please don't join me.
Thanks to Alexander Keith's Galaxy Hop Ale for sponsoring this post.
Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Follow him on twitter @Ben_T_Johnson.
Photo by PLTam on Flickr
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