Sunday, August 20, 2006
Weekend Watering Hole: Coleman's Authentic Irish Pub, Syracuse, N.Y.
As a regular weekend feature, Lyke2Drink will visit some of the world's great watering holes. This week we head to my old home town to visit one of America's great Irish bars.
Coleman's Authentic Irish Pub
100 South Lowell Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13204
I have a bit of a fond place in my heart for Coleman's on Tipperary Hill on Syracuse's westside. You can say that Coleman's introduced me one of the true love's of my life. No, I did not meet my wife at Coleman's. I had my first properly built pint of Guinness Stout at Coleman's while in college. Stout is my favorite beer style and a perfect pint of Guinness is hard to beat.
From the time it opened in 1933 with the repeal of Prohibition, until 1979 Coleman's was pretty much a standard blue collar bar. The lines would form early each St. Patrick's Day and locals would cram inside for a mug of green beer. Things changed in 1979, when Peter Coleman, the son of the founder of this landmark bar, undertook a major renovation and transformed Coleman's into an upscale pub with dark woodwork, stained glass, brass accents and superbly detailed appointments, including a small Leprechaun door next to the main entrance. This was well before the Irish Pub Company started shipping Irish pubs like Fado in Atlanta and RiRa in Charlotte lock, stock and mirrors from Ireland to the U.S. You just did not see attention to detail like this in 98 percent of the Irish bars in America. Coleman's is still a treat and Peter Coleman has been a one man urban renewal project in the neighborhood around the bar. You can recognize his retail locations and residential rehabs by the multi-hued color patterns.
Coleman's has a compact draught beer list, but there is something for everyone. I'd recommend you go with the Guinness, Harp, Smithwick's or McSorley's Ale. They still pour a great pint of Guinness. Coleman's has a good range of Irish whiskey, too.
With the rehab 27 years ago came a solid lunch and dinner menu. Two favorites to try are the Guinness Beef Stew ($13.99) and the Shepherd's Pie ($8.99). Coleman's regularly has Irish themed musical acts and it has a gift shop selling a range of items with the bar's logo. The inverted traffic light (with the green light on top) in Coleman's logo is a reminder of the historic signal just up the hill from the restaurant. When the city of Syracuse tried a couple of generations ago to switch it to the standard configuration so the green was on the bottom the heavily Irish neighborhood responded by throwing rocks to break the lamps so often that the city switched it back.