The ersatz Irish pub is the starkest failure of originality in Chicago drinking culture | Worst of Chicago | Chicago Reader

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The ersatz Irish pub is the starkest failure of originality in Chicago drinking culture

At these McPubs, Irish pride means a shamrock-shaped apostrophe on the sign and Guinness urinal screens.

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JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Jamie Ramsay

You know how everybody's Irish on Saint Patrick's Day? It's actually worse than that.

The starkest failure of originality in Chicago drinking culture is the ubiquity of the ersatz Irish pub. And I'm not talking about watering holes with tangible ties to Mother Ireland or bars of actual character, such as Shinnick's Pub in Bridgeport, owned by three generations of the same family since 1938. I'm talking about the kind of place whose idea of Irish pride is a shamrock-shaped apostrophe on the sign and Guinness urinal screens. Where everyone around you shouts "Jamo!" at a bartender who's badly faking a brogue as overhead 30 televisions are all tuned to American football. I mean pub-in-a-box spots constructed from kits shipped from Dublin in container cars filled with the bones of real dead taverns and convincingly replicated parts.

Because nothing says fun like a college freshman's fifth Irish Car Bomb, the pseudo Gaelic pub proliferates across the north side like potato blight. Who supports all these places? The kind of person who wishes he knew relatives in Ireland, but the best he can do is an aunt in Boston. The kind of person who boards a party bus outside a Wrigleyville bar on the morning of Saint Patrick's Day and is passed out naked in a Beverly backyard before noon. It's the kind of person who lives in a city of unlimited and varied drinking establishments, yet always defaults to "Let's go down to Paddy McDump's and get some corned beef nachos."

Ah, come on, I'm just taking the piss. Where else are you going to get "the gargles" and delay your eventual hangover with genuine auld sod provender such as blackened chicken quesadillas, red pepper hummus, and fried fish tacos—just like Mam used to make!

So come on in. Everybody's Irish at the McPub.   v

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