The Bar Belle

Originally Published 09/03/98

Bar: Ireland’s Own

Where: 132 N. Royal St., Alexandria, (703) 549-4535

Crowd: Suburbanites in their late 20s and early 30s

Getting in: IDs required at the door

Prices: A pint of Guinness is $4.75, mixed drinks run about $5

Food: Yummy versions of bar munchies – potato skins, wings, etc.

Dancing: Not unless you count drunken attempts at an Irish jig

Pick-ups: ‘Fraid not

Pluses: Guinness on tap, Irish drinking songs, what else do you need?

Minuses: A stay-at-your-table kind of place

Ireland’s Own is a friendly kind of bar. It has a sort of “Cheers”-like, “everybody knows your name” quality that makes you want to order a few pints of Guinness and settle in for the night. The bar has a campy quality – the walls are covered with a mix of liquor ads and political memorabilia (the proprietors obviously lean right) and the tables and chairs look like they’ve seen better days. The night The Bar Belle traipsed out to Old Town, the bar charged a $2 cover, a modest price for a night of live Irish music. The two-man band played everything from folksy ballads to rowdy Irish drinking songs on guitars and accordions. If you go, request “The Unicorn Song,” it’s The Bar Belle’s favorite. The Irish tunes bring most patrons to their feet, either to try a quick jig or to toast strangers at the next table. Order a Guinness from the tap – they pour it just like they do in Ireland, minus the shamrock stamp on the head. Mixed drinks also are surprisingly good; The Bar Belle’s amaretto sour was one of the best she’s had. The wait staff is harried, so plan to be embarrassingly conspicuous when you need another drink – not that anyone will notice.

If you want to stay close to home, this isn’t your best choice – you’ll have to take the Metro to the King Street station and walk, or take a cab. And if dancing the night away is your thing, find another place. This bar is a casual place – most bargoers wear shorts and T-shirts (needless to say, one young woman in black leather pants didn’t quite fit in). Ireland’s Own isn’t rambunctious, it’s a low-key choice for an evening of good friends, good music and good drinks. If you’ve got the good friends, Ireland’s Own will provide the rest.

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