216 Carrall Street, Gastown
The Blarney Stone is one of those permanent fixtures in the Vancouver night scene. Located in the heart of Gastown, it is a staple for university students partying downtown. While the crowd is usually fairly young, it is generally a blend of personalities ranging from the relaxed pub go-er to the hyperactive club dancer. This mix creates a welcoming and energetic atmosphere, allowing pretty much anyone to feel comfortable while there. Unless, of course, you are over 25 in which case you just feel old.
The line at The Blarney Stone is usually quite formidable if you do not arrive before 9. The stone faced security do a fantastic job at keeping the peace, though sometimes they can be a little too thorough. The gentleman that inspected my ID insisted that it was a fake since the picture, taken five years and three hair colours ago, looked nothing like me. It took a few more pieces of ID for me to pass through the dark wooden doors. Once inside there was a woman at a desk, to which one payed their cover ($10), and another gentleman checking stamps. One large circular bar sat right at the entrance and another in the back by the stage and the dance floor. The security force were positioned strategically around the pub to ensure that people wouldn’t dally in bottleneck areas, giving the bar an eerie slaughterhouse feel.
The drinks were fantastically over priced. After hearing an announcement for 2 for 1 shots, my friend and I went to go get some. I asked for a light one and the bartender shot me a judgmental look before pouring, from what I can tell, a shot of juice with some alcohol sprinkled in it. What was truly appalling was the $12 price tag. They had a rather good selection of beer on tap, however, the beer that was on special still came out to $5.50 a sleeve. They seemed to have some drink specials, though they were fairly arbitrary and were not posted anywhere. The bar-tending was amazingly quick, however, despite the crowd.
The music scene was an interesting mix. There was a cover band that would play around five or six songs at a time before giving way to the DJ. Generally the music was an odd mix between 90’s rock and modern top 40. The dance floor was generally full all night, and had a more of a group vibe than a meat market one. Overall, The Blarney Stone was a great place to go after you’ve had a couple drinks to dance and socialize. Don’t expect to be able to sit and chat, and don’t drink there unless you’d like to break the bank.