In years past I have celebrated the honoured tradition of drinking on the Irish’s day of celebration, but in more recent years with Covid and not having friends who do, this has fallen to the wayside. That is why I was so excited to bring it back for 2023, to celebrate with my new Irish, Scottish friend, and my Latina friend. This was a great assembly of rambunctious woman who loved to drink, so I knew I was in great company and would have a great time at it. The tale of our day and crawl to follow.
When it came time to choose a venue and what to do, celebrating at The Blarney Stone for their 50th Year Anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day seemed to be the right fit. To commemorate the occasion the Irish bar hosted a buffet brunch that started as early as 9am on the Friday, March 17th.
The Blarney Stone 50th Year Anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day
216 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J1, Canada
Ticket holders came in and grabbed a seat on a first come first served basis, where they were able to enjoy a help-yourself assembly of scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausages, pancakes, and toast. Plus all the accompaniments like butter, syrup, strawberry and blueberry jam, ketchup, salt and pepper. Trays quickly cleared as there were no limits and a steady influx of people coming in as the day progressed. But I was impressed by how quickly the kitchen was able to keep up.
Admission tickets also included a complimentary coffee, but anything in addition was a la carte/pay as you go, or start a tab. We would get a couple of Caesars and spiked Irish coffees to start before transitioning to some shots and beers. Nothing was specifically dyed green for the occasion as the tradition is a North American practice, but I always bring my own dye so we did have green syrup for our pancakes.
Guests were also treated to branded merchandise that included tees and sweatshirts if you were lucky, plus pop sockets, and Mardi gras style beads. We got our hands on a few of the official Blarney Stone 50 Year Anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day’s commemorative tees.
As is commonplace with the day, we sat and drank the afternoon away, nursing beers, and re-upping on shots while watching live entertainment on their main stage.
Two different Irish bands with fiddler incorporated Irish drinking and folk songs into their set of covers in both indie and punk rock genres.
The crowd loved the piper dressed in kilt and tartan walking the expanse of the seated area, playing in between tables. He would also later get some time on stage as he joined the punk rock band as an accompanying musician.
The Celtic dancers preformed traditional highland dancing with high knees and choreographed coordination. Many of the guests in today were family members of these young girls from O’Bryan’s dance school, here to support their performance.
We eventually decided to give up our table after we watched duplicates of each set and had finished snacking on some yam fries and garlic chicken wings. Nothing special, just comforting bar food, necessary to accompany all our beers.
LOCAL Public Eatery Gastown
3 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1B2, Canada
Our next stop on our St. Patrick’s Day crawl was LOCAL in Gastown. The plan was to go in for a bite, as I was craving fried chicken and heard that their perogies were good. However, the time escaped us and we only got in a couple of drinks.
We immediately sat down and ordered a round of pickle backs with Jameson whisky shots, because you have to keep it Irish. Naturally these went down easy.
We followed that with one of their St. Patrick’s day drink specials. A giant Jameson lemonade served in a fishbowl and finished with a skewer of peach rings. This was a larger serving for sharing between 3-4 people.
Growing hungrier and running out of time, we decided to eat at our next and last stop instead.
Lamplighter, The Road to Dublin Giveaway
The Lamplighter Public House
92 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2K8, Canada
Our day would conclude at Lamplighter Pub. This is their first anniversary since their renovation, where they reopened a year ago on St. Patrick’s day. The result of this renovation included their new copper coloured tin ceiling and fashionably distressed wallpaper.
We were seated in the back booth where we explored Lamplighter’s St. Patrick’s Day special food and drinks menu. While testing our luck with their scratch and win cards. Guests that visited were each given one and had the chance to scratch and reveal food and drink prizes, with the grand prize being a trip for two to Dublin. I did not win, so I guess the luck of the Irish was not with me on this day.
Having drank enough lagers and Guinness for the day, we looked to their Jameson Mule as our cocktail of choice. Each served in a handsome royal blue branded copper mug. Jameson Irish Whisky, lime, sugar, ginger beer, and mint. This was an excellent way to end the day. The cocktail that drank like a digestif with the ginger, and like a dessert with its sweeter finish.
We also took part in a round of shots, as a part of their Irish Handcuff combo: a round of Guinness pints and Jameson shots.
And here we finally got to eat something substantial in their meat, potato, and cabbage dinner plates. Although I would learn today that cabbage is not traditionally presented in Irish cuisine, but is necessary in such heavy plates as the lone fresh element.
The corn beef and cabbage came with house cured bacon braised cabbage, parsley sauce, and colcannon. For those unfamiliar, colcannon is Irish-style mashed potatoes with cabbage mixed in. And their corn beef is not ground meat in a can, but a thick slab of fatty beef cut like a steak and served with all its gristle and sinew in tact. This is definitely an acquired taste that you need to get used to you as your mouth does end up being coated in grease. Although as a heavier dish, it does pair well with the rich syrup-ness of a Guinness.
They also have the hash version of corn beef mix with onions, Kennebec potato, mustard, and a sunny egg.
We passed on this and instead shared the classic Bangers & Mash with heritage pork sausages and the modern add on of crispy battered onion rings. Once again, this was a rich plate that helped to coat the stomach and balance out all the drinking that is done on this day. The sausages were juicy and flavourful with herbs, the potatoes whipped smooth and the gravy generous in portion, helping to bring it all together.
As an easy sharing side, we also got a regular order of their Parmesan fries served with a sweet tomato-ey ketchup and their house made mild curry aioli. Yet another dish that many gravitate towards post drinking or during the drinking.
As guests ate and chatted, watching basketball’s March Madness on the multitude of televisions set up around the pub/bar, they were also able to take in live music performances. There was a group of funky dressed pipers on bagpipes.
And humously, one of the bad at Blarney earlier in the day with us, was also performed at Lamplighter when we were there. This was a nice causal time and great setting to wind down at, although there was no green beer here.