Monday, March 16, 2009

Bar Spotlight (St. Patrick's Day Edition) - Irish Haven

Irish Haven

5721 4th Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11220

Oh Irish Haven. A haven indeed, Scorcese used this crusty bar's bar to film several scenes in The Departed. I lived in Sunset Park for 2 years and this was the only bar around that I consistently went to (or the only bar for that matter around period, although later on we found several on 3rd avenue and Feeney's a few blocks away).

Go here tomorrow for some St. Patrick's Day Irish American grub (mounds and mounds of soda bread and corned beef....for FREE) and some delicious pints of Guinness, Smithwicks, and PBR.

The layout of this bar is very simple: you walk in to the near windowless abode (if you walk in after hours, you gotta knock and Tommy should recognize you) and the place doesn't really get hopping with Irish and Russian delegates until 3:30AM or so. A waft of smells hit you, but most prevalent is just the beer. A few high tables with stools, an old jukebox with tons of Johnny Cash and U2 and Chieftains and Pogues, a long, knocked about wooden bar with lots of whiskey behind it and some of the most awesome bartenders ever. The bathrooms, where friends have slipped hilariously before, are at the end of the bar, and an open kitchen that rarely gets used, if only for a sandwich, is to your right. It's like an old bar from someone's basement, if their basement had higher ceilings. You got your one TV, and through the back there is the pool table and just some open space for people to lounge around.

I have never been to a bar that has this kind of atmosphere. Maybe I haven't been to enough bars way out in Brooklyn, but you will rarely find a place that might be so dangerous feeling initially but then you realize everyone is here to have fun. Like everyone. I've never seen someone NOT having fun here. Tommy is super generous with his time of course (the man is always there) and all the bartenders are so nice and the beer flows so fast before you know it you're in 4 pints and hankering for more hilarity. The stories flow just as much, you basically can't go there without striking up a conversation, and it's a stop for the local Irish community, whether from Eireann or here in the U.S.

The Russians will feed you vodka here just because, and well, it's actually kind of a fun place to impress a date. No really. As long as they are into the darker bars.

The prices are very, very cheap, 4 bucks a pint (like Buttermilk) and 3 for what used to be Schaeffer's, now PBR, or maybe Schlitz, who knows at this point.

The advantage of Sunset Park is that it hasn't changed as much and Irish Haven benefits from that by feeling so untouched by the world around it. It's a hard bar with a lot of heart, and if you've had a few they'll love you even more.

Remember, tomorrow for St. Patrick's Day they bring out the free corned beef and soda bread, served by the loveliest elder Irish lady. Grab your food and a beer and head to the back to chat and be merry. Also check out all those 5 star reviews on Yelp.

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