An Alternative St. Patrick's Day
Green beer, car bombs, pinching strangers: St. Patrick's Day, the old-fashioned way, can be plenty of fun. But if your memories of last year's hangover are still painful, or you can't stomach the antics of a holiday bartenders not-so-lovingly refer to as "Amateur Night," there are still plenty of ways to enjoy St. Patty's this Wednesday that aren't on the traditional Irish-pub route. (And if you still love the classics, take heart: three of the four bars recently chosen by Thrillist as the city's best are Irish pubs.) Here are a few suggestions for a fresh take on St. Patty's (all hours are for Wednesday):
Spice up your Guinness with Indian food. One of those great places that give SF its character, Kennedy's is the only Irish pub we know of that doubles as an Indian restaurant. Plus, if you're trying to save money on your bar tab this year, they've got a brilliant happy hour deal: from 5 to 7, Guinness is only $2, and any other draft beer you buy (and there are many) comes with a token good for a second, which can be used even when happy hour is over. Settle in with a stout and a saag paneer, and revel in the contradictions. Kennedy's, open 11 am-2 am, 1040 Columbus Ave., (415) 441-8855.
Trade that Irish car bomb for an Irish coffee. Our fair city has always had a special relationship with Irish coffee, having served as its introduction to the United States. The Buena Vista is the go-to locale for the classic version of the drink, but if you don't feel like battling the tourists, nearby Vesuvio is slightly less crowded. Or go exotic: Nopa serves a tasty brown-sugar molasses version. The Buena Vista, 9 am-2 am, 2675 Hyde St., (415) 474-5044. Vesuvio, open 6 am-2 am, 255 Columbus Ave., (415) 362-3370. Nopa, 6 pm-1 am, 560 Divisadero St., (415) 864-8643.
Explore the world of whiskey beyond Jameson. We love a good glass of Jameson or Bushmill's, but on a night when everyone else will be draining bottles of Irish whiskey, you can still get a taste of the brown stuff without limiting your country of origin. The Excelsior's Broken Record has an excellent, well-priced selection of whiskey, with an emphasis on craft bourbon, as well as a sizable Scotch offering. Or you can sip on a Japanese single-malt at Nihon Whisky Lounge, which boasts what is probably the city's largest variety of Scotch. The Broken Record, open 6-11 pm, 1166 Geneva Ave., (630) 963-1713. Nihon Whisky Lounge, open 5:30 pm-2 am, 1779 Folsom St., (415) 552-4400.
Take in some Celtic cinema. Recent Oscar nominee The Secret of Kells is a lovingly hand-drawn animated film made in Ireland last year, and opening in the U.S. this weekend. The story is a whimsical take on the Irish monks (and their young apprentice) who illustrated the titular book, one of the most exquisite illuminated texts ever made. A showing at the Century San Francisco Centre in the Westfield mall would make a great St. Pat's date or outing with kids. Or, for a comfy night at home, bump some Irish films to the top of your Netflix queue: Michael Collins, Angela's Ashes, and My Left Foot all capture the indomitable Irish spirit, Waking Ned Devine is a delightful comedy, and The Secret of Roan Inish is lyrical and kid-friendly. Pick up some Guinness or Harp to sip with your popcorn. Century San Francisco Centre at the Westfield Mall, 835 Market St., (415) 538-3456.