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Irish pubs with live music bring the real craic

It takes more than Guinness and shepherd’s pie to make an Irish pub. It should feel like anyone at the bar is always half a pint away from launching into a song, and the entire bar would join in. There can be no craic without good live music — here’s where to find it.

The Wicked Monk
9510 Third Ave., Bay Ridge

The mural of angels bringing down beer from heaven is your first sign that this bar takes drinking culture just a little more seriously than most pubs. Much of the gothic cathedral interior came from an actual monastery in Ireland, with the bar backlit by a row of stained glass windows so it feels (appropriately) like approaching the altar to receive Communion — except instead of a wafer, the menu is packed with Irish favorites. Traditional music begins at 5 p.m. on Sundays, though the calendar is always packed with live acts.

The 11th Street Bar
510 E 11th St., East Village

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“Charming” and “rustic” are no longer words that apply to much of the East Village, but this cozy dive has it all. The only food is what you order in, but the drink specials actually live up to the phrase “happy hour” with $2 off all drinks until 9 p.m. every night. Local musicians rotate through a small space in the back of the bar — or sometimes just gather around any available table — almost every night of the week. The genres vary, but Sundays are always reserved for traditional music.

Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar
519 Second Ave., Kips Bay

Named for a renown Irish balladeer, this bar is about music even more than it’s about the perfect pint of Guinness (though it serves an especially smooth one). Now on its third decade, Paddy Reilly’s shows the wear of its nightly concerts, whether it’s Irish jig punk, Gaelic rock, American bluegrass or whatever the musicians drawn to its open mic nights (Wednesdays and Saturdays) want to bring to it.

Landmark Tavern
626 11th Ave., Hell’s Kitchen

Usually when an old space gets an update, the charm that drew regulars there for so long gets wiped away along with the accumulated dust. Not so with the Landmark, which has been serving Irish fare since 1868. Its 2005 renovation turned it into a refined destination for Irish fare, with a lively bar in front and a white-tablecloth dining room to savor its authentic food. On Monday nights from 8 p.m.-11 p.m., if you know the songs you’re welcome to join in with the band playing Irish classics.

 
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