The Atmosphere: To any fan of FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Owl N' Thistle's interior may seem ominously familiar. Dim lights, exposed brick and all sorts of local sports merchandise and faintly Irish rigamarole on the wall are strikingly similar to Paddy's Pub, the home base to six seasons and counting of its characters' always selfish and usually criminal acts of mischief.
The one obvious diversion from the fictional pub's decor in a small stage directly across from the bar. This stage home to eclectic local acts including what appears to be a Big Lebowski concept band doing Led Zeppelin covers as well as a weekly jazz improv night every Tuesday.
The O&T's actual atmosphere is far less misanthropic. Sociability is key here: on a calm weeknight, practically every booth and table was bare -- but one could barely get an elbow into the bar for my entire stay. While this would first appear as an obstacle to talk up the barkeep, it quickly became obvious how impressively adept the O&T's service had become at juggling conversation and duty.
The Barkeep: Colin, a twelve-year veteran of the Owl n' Thistle, has served many a man's share in pints of Guinness. This made it all the more refreshing when he insisted on serving me a vodka martini. Colin assured me that while the O&T has the distinct first impression of a "whiskey n' beer" bar, he fixes these quite often for the Thistle's varied clientele of older business types and young artists alike.
The Drink: The vodka martini was liberally chilled and conservative with vermouth -- what more could a boy want? It wasn't a groundbreaking mixture, but it was the classic that Colin promised. With an increased focus on craft ingenuity when it comes to the modern cocktail glass, sometimes its nice to have a time-tested staple served by an unpretentious pro.
The Verdict: The O&T's t-shirts proudly suggest to "wet your whistle at the Owl and Thistle." I second that motion. With reasonable prices, square meals and a steady stream of fascinating regulars, The Thistle embodies all the necessary components of a worthwhile Irish pub without making you feel like you've just drowned yourself in stereotypes for a stale $5 Guinness.