The Canton Irish Stroll will make you a believer in the power of St. Patrick. I defy you to find a more spirited group of drunks.
And I should know: I've been a Canton resident for seven years. But in its 11th year, Saturday's Stroll (1-9 p.m.) , can be overwhelming — there are over a dozen bars to choose from. Such madness needs a method, especially for the green wearing green. Here's a lucky list of bars sure to make your first crawl (or return trip) a stumbling success.
Looney's (2900 O'Donnell St.)
A no-brainer: Looney's is synonymous with "Canton" and "Irish pub", and it just so happens it's where you register for stroll specials. Don't forget a can of food; this event benefits the Maryland Food Bank. Tickets are $8 with two canned goods, $12 without. I'm not sure what $2 Miller Lite drafts, $3 Blue Moon drafts or $3 Red Bull cans have to do with Ireland, but get your fill of cheap booze here, before the lines are long elsewhere. In fact, show up earlier than 1 p.m. to beat the lines. Looney's has $2 Natty Bohs all the time, anyway.
Portside Tavern (2821 O'Donnell St.)
After Looney's, cross the street and make your way into Portside. Fair warning: the place is narrow, but they are the only bar on the Stroll list with a worthy assortment of fresh squeezed Crushes. Make a quick beeline to the downstairs bar and order one with grapefruit ($7). Part of the special, no. But you'll need a refreshing change of pace from the cheap stuff. Trust me.
Tavern on the Square (2903 O'Donnell St.)
At this point, you're going to need to eat. You're not even halfway through the day, so get your act together. Skip the greasy options and amble down to the newest square bar. Tavern, from the guys at Blue Hill in Brewer's Hill, used to be Fins. That's about the only similarity. What makes Tavern worthy of a stop-in is the quality pub-grub. Plus, it's not on the radar just yet so you're more likely to score a seat. Check out the Pheasant and a Waffle ($10) or the Wild Boar Burrito ($12). Who said this Stroll couldn't be swanky?
Claddagh Pub (2918 O'Donnell St.)
Some people drink Guinness. I drink Irish coffees. Or how about you go in search of both? Claddagh Pub by far whips up the best Irish coffee around ($6) …and occasionally, they seem to serve them in wine glasses. Not sure if that's for the sake of class or dish washing. Regardless, they load up the Jameson, so sip with care. Ask for extra whipped cream and a crème de menthe topper. Oh, yeah.
JD's Smokehouse (3000 O'Donnell St.)
Oh right, the Guinness. For $4 a draught, JD's Smokehouse has got you covered. In fact, they have just about every quality beer on tap. Hit them up for the Stroll specials. And while you're there, get a bottle of Natty with the cap and try to solve the cryptogram. By this point on the crawl, that could be hours of confused amusement.
Walt's Inn (3201 O'Donnell St.)
For future reference: Every Canton night should end with a trip to Walt's Inn. When I think of the Irish, I think of karaoke. Well, I do think of drunken, swaying renditions of "Danny Boy." Walt's Inn is THE place to get your sing on. Be warned: Walt's WILL be packed, overflowing even. But even if you can't sing, the cheers of the always-friendly crowd will make you feel like a rock star. Bono, eat your heart out. A perfect end to a day full of St. Paddy's partying.
1. Public Service Announcement 1: They are giving out FREE beads. Sorry to ruin your game plan, creepy single dudes.
2. Public Service Announcement 2: To the random I've seen with a giant shamrock drawn on his belly: No one wants to give you beads for flashing that. See also PSA 1.
3. Pickled Parrot is on nearly every published list for the Stroll. Don't waste your time. It's closed and up for sale. Oops.
4. You might expect them, but the Stroll isn't equipped with rows of port-a-pots; bathrooms will be limited. Sorry guys, we ladies will fight you for a urinal. Meanwhile, peeing in alleyways WILL get you arrested. Trust me.
5. Looney's after 3 p.m.? Ridiculous. Unless you want to get smashed up against the wall by two leprechauns making out, go early, leave early. Same with Claddagh's.
6. At some point, you're going to wanna bust a move. Admit it. Canton's not the tops for that, but JD's DOES have a dance floor. Look for it late night, first floor. Just don't dance too hard; a neckful of shamrock beads does leave marks. Trust me on that one, too.Copyright © 2015, CT Now