Callaghan’s Irish Social Club Wins G&G’s Southern Bar Bracket
The seventy-three-year-old pub in Mobile, Alabama, is the readers’ top choice
illustration: Luke Lucas
Our March Madness-inspired bracket started with thirty-two Southern bars, and after three weeks of head-to-head matchups (and more than 417,000 total reader votes), we now have a champion: Callaghan’s Irish Social Club in Mobile, Alabama, a classic pub that’s been serving up pints and the self-described “Best Burger in Alabama” since 1946, won the final round, edging out Players’ Retreat in Raleigh, North Carolina, a circa-1951 haunt with the largest single-malt scotch collection in the state.
“It’s been a crazy experience,” says Callaghan’s owner, John Thompson. “It’s been cool to see our group come together over this. Our regulars just took over, spreading the word, voting every hour. Technically I’m the owner of the bar, but they really own it, you know?”
Tucked away in Mobile’s Oakleigh Garden Historic District, Callaghan’s is often dubbed the unofficial “Oakleigh Town Hall,” a meeting place for neighbors and visitors alike. “We’re in a cool old building, but it’s the clientele that makes Callaghan’s so unique,” Thompson says. “We get all walks of life here—you’ve got black, white, gay, straight, white-collar, blue-collar folks walking through that door. We’re a place for everybody.” Musicians, too, are drawn to Callaghan’s. “This is by no means a big venue—we’re tiny. But somehow we’ve gotten on the map,” Thompson notes. The bar regularly hosts shows by top acts, and this month alone has G&G favorites Dylan LeBlanc and Parker Millsap on the docket.
We raise a glass to Callaghan’s—and to all the bars that make the South a great place to grab a drink.
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