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Classic Emerald Isle pub in the middle of Normal Heights

Sign up for some of the sloppiest karaoke in town

The Ould Sod: A fine place to let your impulse for global conquest evaporate. - Image by Chris Woo
The Ould Sod: A fine place to let your impulse for global conquest evaporate.

“God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world,” as Ed McMahon once said, but that hasn’t stopped them from exerting a considerable influence over Normal Heights nightlife. A Guinness-branded butcher board along Adams insists: “YOU’RE ‘DYING’ to try our NEW! BEER GARDEN & PATIO.” Finding no reason to object, you duck into Ould Sod’s doorway and find you’ve stumbled back in time and space to a classic Emerald Isle pub. Cozy, reeking of authenticity (or is that stale beer in the Naugahyde?), and giddy as a gadfly on inauguration day, the Sod welcomes you with 13 taps, including a house pale brewed by Red Hook, several Irish suds, and a two-step, 20-ounce pour of what is widely regarded to be the best Guinness in town.

Place

Ould Sod

3373 Adams Avenue, San Diego

But you’re here for a stiff drink, so you ask Warren, a longtime bartender with a sixth sense for an empty glass anywhere within about a quarter-mile, what he suggests. He slides you a glass of Redbreast 12 ($7.75), a single-pot still Irish whiskey that is smooth and full-bodied in the mouth and leaves a mild, lingering spice. You feel your impulse for global conquest evaporate as you scour the Sod’s selection of Irish and Scotch whiskeys (including top-tier picks Yellow Spot and Middleton), bourbons, and ryes. Intrigued by a neon sign reading “Elbo Club” over the entrance, you ask your barmate about the location’s history and discover that the bar is the third oldest licensed establishment in town. Debuting in 1940 as Ryan’s Bar and then the Elbo Club 1943, the locale re-opened as the Ould Sod on New Year’s Eve, 1989, by current proprietors Tommy Quinn, Ron Stout, and Mick Ward.

Nearly 30 years later, the slim restroom doors still read “Fir” and “Mná” (Gaelic for gentlemen and ladies) and a handful of musicians still gather every Tuesday evening at 7 on the small stage for an open jam of traditional Irish tunes played on banjos, fiddles, flutes, guitars, and the occasional concertina. On Mondays and Wednesdays your third drink goes for a dollar. Thursdays and Saturdays see some of the sloppiest karaoke in town starting at 9. Every Sunday, Irish pints (Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s) are $4.50 all day. And the new beer garden you’re “dying” to try? It opened over the summer and nearly doubled the bar’s capacity, but the whole place is still standing-room only on weekends.

Prices: Pints, $5.50–$6; bottles, $3.75–$6; cocktails, $6–$7.50; shots, $5.55–$22; wine, $5.75–$10.75; add $.50 during entertainment

Hours: Monday–Friday, 2pm–2am; Saturday–Sunday, 10am–2am.

Happy: Monday–Friday, 2–7pm. Fireball shots, $3.50; All 16 oz drafts, $4.50.

Food: Bring your own from nearby Greek and seafood joints

Parking: Adams if you’re lucky, side streets on weekends

Capacity: About 70 inside, 55 on the patio.

The Deal: $4.50 Irish pints on Sunday

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The Ould Sod: A fine place to let your impulse for global conquest evaporate. - Image by Chris Woo
The Ould Sod: A fine place to let your impulse for global conquest evaporate.

“God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world,” as Ed McMahon once said, but that hasn’t stopped them from exerting a considerable influence over Normal Heights nightlife. A Guinness-branded butcher board along Adams insists: “YOU’RE ‘DYING’ to try our NEW! BEER GARDEN & PATIO.” Finding no reason to object, you duck into Ould Sod’s doorway and find you’ve stumbled back in time and space to a classic Emerald Isle pub. Cozy, reeking of authenticity (or is that stale beer in the Naugahyde?), and giddy as a gadfly on inauguration day, the Sod welcomes you with 13 taps, including a house pale brewed by Red Hook, several Irish suds, and a two-step, 20-ounce pour of what is widely regarded to be the best Guinness in town.

Place

Ould Sod

3373 Adams Avenue, San Diego

But you’re here for a stiff drink, so you ask Warren, a longtime bartender with a sixth sense for an empty glass anywhere within about a quarter-mile, what he suggests. He slides you a glass of Redbreast 12 ($7.75), a single-pot still Irish whiskey that is smooth and full-bodied in the mouth and leaves a mild, lingering spice. You feel your impulse for global conquest evaporate as you scour the Sod’s selection of Irish and Scotch whiskeys (including top-tier picks Yellow Spot and Middleton), bourbons, and ryes. Intrigued by a neon sign reading “Elbo Club” over the entrance, you ask your barmate about the location’s history and discover that the bar is the third oldest licensed establishment in town. Debuting in 1940 as Ryan’s Bar and then the Elbo Club 1943, the locale re-opened as the Ould Sod on New Year’s Eve, 1989, by current proprietors Tommy Quinn, Ron Stout, and Mick Ward.

Nearly 30 years later, the slim restroom doors still read “Fir” and “Mná” (Gaelic for gentlemen and ladies) and a handful of musicians still gather every Tuesday evening at 7 on the small stage for an open jam of traditional Irish tunes played on banjos, fiddles, flutes, guitars, and the occasional concertina. On Mondays and Wednesdays your third drink goes for a dollar. Thursdays and Saturdays see some of the sloppiest karaoke in town starting at 9. Every Sunday, Irish pints (Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s) are $4.50 all day. And the new beer garden you’re “dying” to try? It opened over the summer and nearly doubled the bar’s capacity, but the whole place is still standing-room only on weekends.

Prices: Pints, $5.50–$6; bottles, $3.75–$6; cocktails, $6–$7.50; shots, $5.55–$22; wine, $5.75–$10.75; add $.50 during entertainment

Hours: Monday–Friday, 2pm–2am; Saturday–Sunday, 10am–2am.

Happy: Monday–Friday, 2–7pm. Fireball shots, $3.50; All 16 oz drafts, $4.50.

Food: Bring your own from nearby Greek and seafood joints

Parking: Adams if you’re lucky, side streets on weekends

Capacity: About 70 inside, 55 on the patio.

The Deal: $4.50 Irish pints on Sunday

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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