Where to drink on St Patrick's Day
One of Melbourne's premier Irish pubs, PJ O'Brien's is the place to be for a good time on St Patrick's Day. You'll find the walls splashed with Irish paraphernalia, suspended TV screens playing the rugby, live music, and Irish grub (expect Tayto chips, big Irish brekkies and plenty of McDonnell's Curry Sauce). Instead of St Patrick's Day, P.J O'Brien's will be having a St Patrick's weekend, starting on the Friday, crammed full of entertainment such as Irish dancers, Celtic face-painting and Irish bartenders demonstrating how to pour the perfect pint.
North Melbourne pub The Last Jar is such good craic. The pints of Guinness or Kilkenny you get here are among the very best in town: yeasty and sour-sweet rather than bitter and metallic. And there's Magners on tap There’s also live Irish traditional music on Sundays, which they'll no doubt crank up on St Patrick's Day. But the real draw here is the food. There will be a full Irish breakfast this St Patrick's Day weekend, but if you turn up later in the day, the beef and Guinness shepherd's pie is a hearty dish that is sure to line your stomach.
Complete with beer garden and tables out the front for the smoking and sunshine inclined, the Dan O'Connell Hotel is a classic local boozer. Expect good tunes, a crowd full of uni students and locals, and a special breakfast menu. The best part is, on St Pat's Day the party usually spills out on the streets and the conveniently adjacent park (read: grassy patch). This year, they've procured a container bar left over from GABS that will be packed full of the yeasty stuff.
This classic pub is one of those venues that really crank up the craic on St Patrick's Day. They serve a mean beer-battered chips with McDonnells curry sauce, plus a great beef and Guinness pie if you like to eat your Guinness as well as drink it. On a normal day though, the Irish Times Pub has a quiet atmosphere and a relaxed attitude, often with entertainment such as comedy and live bands.
In an ode to the Emerald Isle and the "stately, plump Buck Mulligan" of James Joyce's Ulysses, Northcote's boutique bookshop and bar represent the glorious union of Irish whiskey and literature. By day, Buck Mulligan's is a bookshop and café. By night, the bar's Irish whiskeys get a good workout. To celebrate St Paddy's Day, a pop-up whiskey bar will be put up in the courtyard, and there will be free black pudding all day long.
A little bit of Ireland right here in the heart of Chapel Street, Bridie O'Reilly is a hub for good times and decent beers. They're serving a full Irish breakfast with a side of Guinness on St Pat's, but if you've had one too many pints you'll want to order a plate of cheesy chips slathered in melty cheese and Irish curry sauce.
Micheal and Kim Lynch's bar has an unquestionable Irish heart, yet it deftly avoids all the fiddle-de-de shamrocks and tat. It's here you can get a killer fish finger sandwich, soda bread and stew and steaks with Jameson butter. The Snug will be open from 9am on St Patrick's Day, offering you a traditional Irish breakfast, followed by live music and give aways from 1pm.
Opposite the Queen Victoria markets on Peel Street, the Drunken Poet is Melbourne’s cosiest little Irish bar. As for all true Éireanns, music is the soul of the Drunken Poet, here six nights a week and always free. St Patrick's Day will bring live music from midday to 11pm.
The Charles Dickens is hidden CBD favourite and currently under new management. It's a race against the clock to organise for the big day, but what they can guarantee is that you'll be drinking Guinness out of glass, rather than plastic, which is the norm for too many bars these days.