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NYC's 7 Best Bars For Fine Irish Whiskey

Whether thrown back as a pickleback shot, sipped neat, chased with a beer, or shaken in a cocktail, people are excited about Irish whiskey like never before. While it's not Boston, New York's sizable Irish population (the largest in the country) means it only makes sense we'd have some of the choicest opportunities to sample a wide range of amber spirits from the Emerald Isle.
Swift Hibernian Lounge

Ask people who actually make or serve Irish whiskey, and they'll direct you to this Nolita Pub without hesitation. Inviting and intimate, the popular bar carries a huge selection of single malt Scotch whiskies, American bourbon, tequila and, yes, Irish whiskey. All the usual suspects are here at $8 to $20 a glass, but what you seek are hard-to-gets like Knappogue Castle 1995 single malt ($10), Greenore 15 year ($18) and Jameson Vintage Reserve ($40), which you are never, ever allowed to pair with pickle juice. Live music on Tuesdays, an innovative pub fare menu and an atmospheric back room for private parties round out Swift's appeal.

Char No 4

The emphasis here is on a near-endless list of American bourbons and whiskies (the name reflects how bourbon barrels are treated before use), but the selection of Irish whiskies is also stellar. Located on Brooklyn's popular Restaurant Row, pair your drink with a mouth-watering array of Southern-influenced comfort food. One and two-ounce pours are available, allowing you to sample pricier selections. Among the specialties: Connemara Single Malt ($7 for a one-ounce), Redbreast 15 year ($12) and Tullamore Dew 10 year single malt ($8). For friends who don't drink whiskey (why are they your friends again?), Char No 4 also offers a comprehensive menu of wines, beers and Champagnes.

Related: 2011's Best NYC Whiskey Bars

Bounce Sporting Club

Not everyone wants to go to an Irish bar, but who doesn't love a good pickleback (usually a shot of Jameson's, chased by pickle juice)? This massive, bro-tacular Flatiron disco/sports bar—the new brah to the Upper East Side location—serves them up. A lot. In addition, Jameson 12-year ($14) and Black Barrel (Jameson's latest expression, a blend of pot still whiskey and a rare small batch grain whiskey) play nice with Jack Daniel's Honey, Patron tequila and Colorado-based Stranahans Whiskey on the drinks menu. Gourmet barfood includes sloppy duck sliders and truffled mac and cheese. Thirty flat screens mean you'll never miss a minute of the action.

Molly Blooms

When it opened last year on St. Patrick's Day, Molly Bloom's brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to an already crowded Sunnyside Irish pub scene. The large, inviting windows, a stylish back garden (open year-round) and family-friendly breakfast exude a welcoming vibe to regulars and newbies alike, yet still decidedly authentic. Behind the bar you'll find an excellent selection of Scotch single malts and an abbreviated, but tasty collection of Irish whiskies. In addition to the regular choices, sample Bushmill 21-year ($19), Jameson 1780 ($12), or go old school with a dram of Paddy or Powers ($6). Oh, and free WiFi.

Related: NYC's Best Irish Pubs

Union Pool

According to those in the know, this unassuming dive bar/Mexican eatery on a lonely corner of North Williamsburg is Jameson's biggest account in the country. Is it the on-site taco wagon that screams for whiskey shots? The "Too Much Free Jameson" sponsored live concerts? The energetic crowd and inviting back patio, where classic bar games are waged around a firepit? We have no clue. But order a $5 Jameson and PBR combo, sit back and quit asking questions.

Do or Dine
(credit: Do or Dine/Facebook)

The guys who run this tiny culinary mecca in Bed-Stuy love to raise eyebrows (see their recent foie gras-filled donut). On the drinkie side, they offer up a deconstructed Spherical Pickleback, featuring a semi-solidified globule of gourmet pickle juice and a shot of Sullivan's Irish Whiskey ($9). When the second the sphere hits your mouth, it liquifies into pickle juice (which is awesome). The just self-effacing enough, Michelin-rated spot offers so much innovative food and cocktails (called "dranks") as to demand return visits. Bonus: you are encouraged to write on the bathroom walls.

The Quays
(credit: The Quays Pub/Facebook)

The thing about most authentic Irish pubs in the city is that they are no-nonsense establishments, primarily serving a basic run of beers and whiskies to an aging clientele that don't necessarily appreciate interlopers. For a more inviting alternative (and still 100 percent authentic), check out this Queens mainstay where locals and first-timers alike pass the time with affordable drams (Jameson, Powers and Paddy are $5, while Jameson Black Barrel is only $7). During cooler weather you'll find a Hot Whiskey ($5) or well-made Irish Coffee ($5). Plus, there are ample buybacks and a naughty gnome. Keep an eye out for her.

Robert Haynes-Peterson is an editor and freelance writer living in New York. He is certified by the American Sommelier Association through its 24-week Vinification and Viticulture program, and the government of Mexico through its Master Mezcalier program (continuing). His work can be found at

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