I love Ireland. I like the head on my beer thick enough to write my initials with the tip of a dart in it. I wear cable knit woolen underwear, even in the summer. When my accountant told me to start an IRA, I asked him which mailboxes ought to be the first to go. And of all the ambiences I could hope for from a bar, none ranks so highly as Irish. This is why I love Kieran’s Irish Pub just by Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. Without committing to the twelve hour flight across the Atlantic, it’s as close to popping into a Dublin pub as a Minnesotan can get. Kieran’s decor and furniture, rich and brown and velvety and inviting, were all imported from Éire itself. They serve dozens of Irish whiskeys, so by any reasonable estimate it would take hours to try them all. Nearly no square inch of Kieran’s walls goes unadorned without some icon of the country: Kennedy, Beckett, Wilde, Healy, and Chesterton all look down upon guests with approval at their choice of place to hide away in for a while.
Kieran’s is split into three sections. The main room, just by the patio, is dominated by the beautiful full bar lined with bottle after bottle of fine brown elixirs. It is there you ought to make a stand against the elements in one of the booths circling the open fireplace. There is also a stage for the live music on Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 9:30. Just in back is the Poet’s Corner, an amusing little set-aside with a mural of Ireland’s and Europe’s finest (and worst, at that) which you could study for hours. Finally there is the Titanic Lounge, a fancy, gilt room where you can go into the drink in just as high fashion as the eponymous ship’s passengers.
Of course, even an Irish pub isn’t exempt from serving Minnesota’s very own best booze and beef. Their signature cocktail, the Big Ginger, is salvation with two shots of our very own 2 Gingers whiskey in a pool of ginger ale with fresh lemon and lime. Their Minnesota Mule packs as powerful a kick as the creature it’s named for, too. Pair either with Kieran’s Minnesota Burger, made with locally raised Angus beef and topped with melted Caves of Faribault’s Fini cheddar, and you’ve got the makings of a real meal. Go to happy hour any day between 11 am and 6 pm for $2 off drafts, house wines, and rail pour cocktails, and you’ll be singing about Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, in no time.
Stop in at Kieran’s after a game or a concert and you may be lucky enough to brush shoulders with one of the athletes or musicians you just cheered for — it’s a popular watering hole for headliners after a show. Whether you’re going to hobnob or just want a quiet respite in which to labor over the last chapter of Ulysses, Kieran’s emphasis on Irish hospitality makes for a perfect downtown outing.
By David Scheller