Bar Review - McDuff's pours on the lucky charm

Wednesday March 13, 2002 12:04 am EST

What to some is an authentic Irish haven is also an unusual microcosm in the Buckhead bar scene: an unpretentious, dimly lit bar filled not with pickup artists but actual drinkers. McDuff's, which boasts being "the only 100 percent Irish-owned pub in Atlanta," is also the official headquarters of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which takes place in Buckhead Saturday at 1 p.m.

Evidence of McDuff's unabashed Irishness is all over the place: Graffiti-like Celtic script on the walls, Guinness Stout signs and posters, darts boards and championship trophies, photos of McDuff's Guinness-sponsored rugby team, traditional Irish artwork. Justin O'Rourke, bartender and self-proclaimed "the bullocks" (in Yank terms, "the shit"), is almost always behind the counter "having a laugh with interesting people," or serving up the finest imported lagers. Regulars line the long bar while thirtysomethings sit at worn booths, focused on cold drinks and pleasant company.

Real (i.e. non-American) football is broadcast on two screens, although the sound of the game is sometimes drowned out by the modern Irish music — Sinead O'Connor, U2, etc. — permeating the place. On weekends, local Irish musicians entertain on a small stage.

St. Partick's Day starts a little early at McDuff's. The festivities begin Friday and feature Irish music, a traditional Irish buffet, outside (heated) seating and, of course, loads of fine drink. The live entertainment, St. Paddy's Day giveaways and Irish beer-tastings continue all weekend long. Expect overactive rugby players, heavy drinkers and fierce dart competitions all weekend long, as well.

If it's true that beer makes people happy, then you'll be delighted with McDuff's.

McDuff's Irish Pub. 56 E. Andrews Drive. Sat. 4 p.m.-3 a.m.; Sun.-Fri. 4 p.m.- 4 a.m. 404-816-8008. For parade route info, visit www.stpatsparadeatlanta.com.??

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