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Explaining the faux Irish pub revolution
March 18, 2014 10:05 AM   Subscribe


 
I enjoyed the article -- nothing like fake authenticity to warm the cockles of my heart. It'd be great to get an update about what's been happening in the fake pub world in the eight years since the article was published.
posted by crazy with stars at 10:09 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


you can now hear the lilt of an Irish brogue over the sound of the Pogues as you wait for your Guinness to settle.

And rest assured if that keg has travelled far from Dublin, your Guiness - no matter how deep your bartender's brogue - won't take long to settle and is guaranteed to taste like crap. Why Guinness tastes better on the Emerald Isle than anywhere else in the world.

"In Irish pubs you can order a Guinness knowing that the tap has been flowing all day, so you'll never get a pint which has been sat in the pipes for an hour. Whereas in London, it could have been there all day. The locals also tend to know their own beer inside out, so you'll get it at the right temperature, in the right glass and with the right head. That's really important."

Quarter, quarter, quarter, order.

Listening to the Pogues, on the other hand, is always satisfying.
posted by three blind mice at 10:21 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Based on this very article, Ms. jason6 and I started to use "Irish-Pub-in-a-box" to refer to these very places. This place from my old neighborhood was the first "Irish Pub" that I had ever seen. I could never tell whether it was a pub-in-a-box or not. It's funny that an "Irish" neighborhood wouldn't have an "Irish Pub" until the 1980s.
posted by jason6 at 10:22 AM on March 18


seems eerily similar to the expansion of cracker barrel and other faux-americana type chains.
posted by k5.user at 10:23 AM on March 18 [7 favorites]


I was in a place in Dallas like this several years ago, listening to a guy bitch about the "creepy fakeness" of Disney World, and how Disney's attempts to replace reality with their squeaky-clean, germ-free, plastic veneer kept him from every visiting.
posted by nushustu at 10:29 AM on March 18 [7 favorites]


It'd be great to get an update about what's been happening in the fake pub world in the eight years since the article was published.

The Irish Pub Company is still around. Not much seems to have changed. They offer the same five styles of pub. Their home page touts that they have "designed in excess of 1000 pubs and built over 500 outlets." Those numbers are not that much different than what the article describes. I wonder if we have passed Peak Faux Irish Pub?
posted by jedicus at 10:29 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Surely we're all thinking of Starbucks after reading that article, right?
posted by gurple at 10:29 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I think lots of places do (more or less) this. I'm sure there is (or at least was) an official Thai governmental agency that sets up Thai restaurants in the US, and it sure seems like a lot of generic Chinese restaurants are ridiculously similar in lots of details.
posted by Flunkie at 10:31 AM on March 18


"This isn't faux dive, this is a dive."
"You're a long way from home, yuppie boy. I'll start a tab."
posted by entropicamericana at 10:32 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure there's one of those pubs not far from me, in the ground floor of one of those upscale mixed-use condos-above-shops New Urbanist complexes, which seems like exactly the natural habitat of a fake Irish pub. It's called (and I'm not making this up) "Samuel Beckett's Irish Gastro Pub" and it is trying so very hard to be old-timey and Authentically Irish™, which is tough to pull off when the building you're in was erected less than ten years ago and you're sandwiched between a Pinkberry and a Busboys and Poets.

I had no idea that it might have literally been assembled in Ireland and shipped over in pieces though. That's fantastic.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:32 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Damn, I so wish my friend in Cork were a member here because holy shit would she have a lot to say on this topic and holy shit would it be fun to hear.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:34 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I just like not-shite beer which I am so happy for the influence of the Paddy O's and their ilk. Back before the day [Established May 18th 1981, Murphy's celebrates it's 30+ years as Seattle's favourite Irish Pub!] you could get Budweiser, on tap or in a bottle, or Miller, on tap or in a bottle. And god-knows-what in a can. Löwenbräu was classy.

I'm sorry to see the airportification but I guess it was inevitable. I just want a Harp in the summer and a Guinness in the winter and skip the fucking lemons and that black-and-tan bullshit.
posted by vapidave at 10:37 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Those things are everywhere. There are even two (two!) in the Himalayas on the way to the Everest base camp.

The part about the saint Patrick's day parade is true too. It used to be an awful boring thing in Dublin. We would watch the New York parade on television and wonder why it was so much better. I'm glad they improved it in the 90's.
posted by drugstorefrog at 10:37 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


But I like Filthy McNasty's!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:37 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


Why Guinness tastes better on the Emerald Isle than anywhere else in the world.

Surely that's an untestable hypothesis, though? I mean, to properly test that you'd need a consistent panel of testers and both the people serving the beer and the people drinking the beer would need not to know if they were in Ireland or not. It's hard to imagine how you'd pull that off.

I guess you could do a kind of "extraordinary rendition" thing where you take people, blind and deafen them, fly them all over the world and then escort them, blindfolded, to a pub. At the very least they'd be grateful for a Guinness at that point.
posted by yoink at 10:39 AM on March 18 [38 favorites]


The part about the saint Patrick's day parade is true too. It used to be an awful boring thing in Dublin. We would watch the New York parade on television and wonder why it was so much better.

* blink * Huh. Both times I've gone to the New York parade I end up getting bored and leaving early because it just feels like all it is is "a hell of a lot of cops, walking".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Years ago, I saw a document that miswrote the "P.G. County" as "P.G. Ocunty." I've marked that down as the name I'll be using for the world's worst fake Irish bar, if I ever find myself needing to do that.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:40 AM on March 18 [90 favorites]


"In Irish pubs you can order a Guinness knowing that the tap has been flowing all day, so you'll never get a pint which has been sat in the pipes for an hour. Whereas in London, it could have been there all day. The locals also tend to know their own beer inside out, so you'll get it at the right temperature, in the right glass and with the right head. That's really important."

It's pretty standard these days for upscale American bar owners to have long, detailed conversations with their beer specialists about the exact temps needed for their beers, down to the tenth of a degree, as well as to be super persnickety and particular about their CO2/Nitrogen mix. As for the proper glasses... you can get those anywhere anymore.

Most of this article is pretty sound, but this fetishization of the "real" Guinness experience is out of place as it's exactly the kind of nonsense that drives this push for "authenticity."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:43 AM on March 18 [21 favorites]


There's a somewhat more detailed Baffler article from 1999 on the same subject.

My first Irish-pub-concept pub was this place in Shanghai that opened sometime in the early nineties, with real Irish workers all compleat. The rich UK expats ate there all the time; I had a pricey and so-so sandwich and a guiness there with my fellow teachers and an Australian guy who later turned out to be a creepy semi-rapist. A full meal there cost something like three days' pay for the average Chinese worker. They did catering for the weekly cricket matches that the rich English people held. It was not a nice scene, although the Irish Pub Concept was only a small part of its not-niceness.
posted by Frowner at 10:46 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Ireland, as much of the world knows it, was invented in 1991.

Well, that would explain why it still looked so new when I was there in 1992. I always wondered why the church steeples were wrapped in plastic.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:47 AM on March 18 [12 favorites]


I used to say those places were all built by one company, but I was saying it as a joke! It was all in the spirit of humorous X-Files-style stage conspiracy paranoia!

I call them "Ye Irishe Pubbe," pronouncing all the extra "e's" and "b's." We didn't get ours until after 2000, though.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:47 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


nushustu: "I was in a place in Dallas like this several years ago, listening to a guy bitch about the "creepy fakeness" of Disney World, and how Disney's attempts to replace reality with their squeaky-clean, germ-free, plastic veneer kept him from every visiting."

I wonder what level of simulacra the faux-Irish pub at Disney World is. I'd bet you that after a couple of pints you could probably do Matrix moves without even trying.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:47 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]




this fetishization of the "real" Guinness experience is out of place

maybe so, but all I can tell you is that the Guinness I drank in Ireland was genuinely delicious while everywhere else it is more nostalgic
posted by sineater at 10:48 AM on March 18


"I guess you could do a kind of "extraordinary rendition" thing where you take people, blind and deafen them, fly them all over the world and then escort them, blindfolded, to a pub."

Where do I sign up?
posted by vapidave at 10:50 AM on March 18 [13 favorites]


Admittedly, I may be spoiled where quality of draft Guinness goes because I live in the Chicago area.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:50 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Hah, I ended up in one of these in Hong Kong because I thought it would be a novelty. Nope, 'bout the same as everywhere else. Which I suppose was it's own sort of novelty.

Guinness is great when you want to chug through four reasonably tasty beers without getting drunk and without too much of a calorie hit, but anymore a cheap pilsner does almost the same thing with more flavor, so...
posted by postcommunism at 10:51 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


...take people, blind and deafen them, fly them all over the world and then escort them, blindfolded, to a pub.

Or you could just use a lot of chloroform.

(But only low-phosgene Belgian chloroform, poured fresh into a microfiber rag.)
posted by Iridic at 10:51 AM on March 18 [11 favorites]


Surely that's an untestable hypothesis, though?
Totally untestable, but it seems to be pretty axiomatic that the quality of Guinness deteriorates the further away from the Guinness brewery you get.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:51 AM on March 18


"I guess you could do a kind of "extraordinary rendition" thing where you take people, blind and deafen them, fly them all over the world and then escort them, blindfolded, to a pub."

Where do I sign up?


I'll tell you anything, just, please, lager board me again!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:52 AM on March 18 [12 favorites]


the quality of Guinness deteriorates the further away from the Guinness brewery you get

I can tell you for sure that the farther it gets from the tap the more it tastes like urine.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:53 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


I wonder what level of simulacra the faux-Irish pub at Disney World is.

It's a product of the Irish Pub Company.
posted by jedicus at 10:53 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


It's pretty standard these days for upscale American bar owners to have long, detailed conversations with their beer specialists about the exact temps needed for their beers, down to the tenth of a degree, as well as to be super persnickety and particular about their CO2/Nitrogen mix.

It is indeed; I know a guy who conducts such training. Also, at a lot of these places there's no way your Guinness has been "sitting in the pipes all day"; some of the Irish pubs I used to go to in Cambridge / Somerville had 3-5 pints settling among the tap handles at all times. I imagine the stout was running pretty much continuously.

And I'm a little afraid of the answer, but: not all the Irish pubs in the US are part of this company, are they? Particularly in well-fortified Irish zones like Boston - some of those are at least independent, right? I hesitate to say "authentic," but... at least not part of the faux-Irish Borg?
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:53 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Yeah, well, it's just our revenge for covering the country in McDonalds and Burger Kings and Starbucks, and "American" "diners" with Americana memorabilia and burgers that would probably make an actual American weep.
posted by billiebee at 10:53 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Yeah, well, it's just our revenge for covering the country in McDonalds and Burger Kings and Starbucks, and "American" "diners" with Americana memorabilia and burgers that would probably make an actual American weep.

you mean like this one?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:55 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Guinness is great when you want to chug through four reasonably tasty beers without getting drunk and without too much of a calorie hit, but anymore a cheap pilsner does almost the same thing with more flavor

A "cheap pilsner" has "more flavor" than Guinness? Wha...?
posted by yoink at 10:57 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


Irish pubs in the US are like Applebee's but with more emphasis on the liquor. The food is comparable. Why is any of this supposed to come as a great surprise?
posted by graymouser at 10:57 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


burgers that would probably make an actual American weep.

My friend, you have no idea what kinds of shit actual Americans will eat if you slap it on a bun and call it a "burger." This is the country that invented White Castle, for god's sake.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:58 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]



I wonder what level of simulacra the faux-Irish pub at Disney World is.

It's a product of the Irish Pub Company.


Oh, the ironies.. that.. that just tickles the cockles of my humors..
posted by k5.user at 10:58 AM on March 18


You know, Rick's place in Casablanca was Rick's Cafe Americain, and although he had clearly taken over a Moorish structure, he had a little jazz piano and sold champagne cocktails while he wandered around in a white top coat. He was selling Americaness to the European expatriates who were fleeing their native countries and the old-world aesthetics that had either informed Naziism or were being destroyed by the Nazis.

This isn't inauthenticity, per se. It's just typical diaspora behavior. Irish-Americans are not Irish, they are several steps removed from Ireland, and so they have forged a new identity, and part of that identity is the sort of mythologizing of their ancestral home that everybody does. We're looking for signs and signifiers from the old home, usually something reflecting the era when our ancestors left, which is why these faux pubs borrow from a Victorian and Edwardian style rather than the fusion gastropubs or hole-in-the-wall dives of modern Ireland.

We're not creating pubs to reflect the modern experience of the Irish, but to reflect the myth of Ireland that Irish-Americans have created. So, no, it's not authentically Irish, but it is authentically Irish-American.

The funny thing is, this is a diaspora that constantly has contact with, and influence on, its country of origin. Americans constantly go back to Ireland and the Irish constantly come here, and there is an ongoing economic and cultural relationship. We got our too ra loo ra's from Ireland, but they got the banjo from us. They originated the idea of Irish independence but we helped bankroll it and fought for it (sometimes very weirdly, like invading Canada). St. Paddy's, as we know it, is an Irish-American holiday, but the Irish have really taken to it.

Our culture is the stuff we make. If an Irish company is making old fangled pubs and selling them to Irish-Americans, that's a real cultural expression, even if it now feels a bit naff. Years from now, we may yearn for these days, as some yearn for the days of the entirely inauthentic tiki bars, which were in no ways expressions of Polynesian culture but now seem to us to be an authentic expression of Mid-20th century American kitsch.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:58 AM on March 18 [126 favorites]


So where did the drunkenness on St. Patrick's Day start? I'm guessing that there's a more interesting, non-Slate-Snark story about the dynamics of immigration and diaspora here.
posted by graphnerd at 10:59 AM on March 18


I mean, to properly test that you'd need a consistent panel of testers and both the people serving the beer and the people drinking the beer would need not to know if they were in Ireland or not. It's hard to imagine how you'd pull that off.

Simple. You start with whiskey.
posted by Etrigan at 10:59 AM on March 18


Ha! Guess I should've waited one more minute!
posted by graphnerd at 11:00 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I suppose calling them Craic Houses would be a little too easy.

But that's no reason not to do it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:00 AM on March 18 [16 favorites]


A "cheap pilsner" has "more flavor" than Guinness? Wha...?

If the "cheap pilsner" is a craft pilsner, it's reasonably true. Although the Guinness probably still has fewer calories. My wife "doesn't drink Guinness" because she isn't into stouts, but the truth is she'd only ever tried American stouts. After a few sips, she remarked that it tasted like nothing. Which I'd say is roughly true.

My local is a non-IPC Irish-esque pub run by a friend of mine. The Guinness is always fresh and well-poured, although the rest of the beer menu is good enough that I only drink the Guinness when I want something wet that won't get me too drunk.

I wonder what level of simulacra the faux-Irish pub at Disney World is.

A piece of advice: it's probably not the best idea to drink around Epcot and then order a flight of whiskey here. I'm told.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:04 AM on March 18


> A "cheap pilsner" has "more flavor" than Guinness? Wha...?

Well, depends on the pilsner. (Radeberger's decent and sorta-cheap.) I do prefer Guinness to most stout since it's got that nice light tartness, it's just a bit costly for how easy drinking it is.
posted by postcommunism at 11:05 AM on March 18


Still catching up on the thread, but I have been told for years that Guinness in Ireland tastes vastly superior to the draught stateside. Having had innumerable pints all along the east coast of the US, and a good many while in Ireland itself (from trad pubs to the brewery itself), that is total hogwash.
Bad bars excluded, a well pulled pint tasted exactly the same to both me and my wife. I love Guinness but was sorely disappointed that I didn't get the promised revelatory experience.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 11:06 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


And of course to rub salt in the wound, Diageo is a British company.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:07 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Ms. jason6 and I started to use "Irish-Pub-in-a-box" to refer to these very places.

We did the music for the opening of one in Banff many years ago, and we were trying to convince some of the customers that yes, the pub came in a container from Ireland, and the staff came in another one from Australia.

B. Ultramod, yes they seem pretty authentic in their own way. They're nicely made, and the owner, who has laid out at least $1M for the pub (before the lease) generally keeps them very nice. The stuff on the walls is usually interesting (if you like a fiddle with a bloody great screw through it) and the staff are great. The food can be great too, but ask around first. The ones in Ireland are better, of course, because Ireland.

By this time, I think Guinness here tastes just as good as the pints in Ireland. It's not Murphy's though.
posted by sneebler at 11:07 AM on March 18


three blind mice: "And rest assured if that keg has travelled far from Dublin, your Guiness - no matter how deep your bartender's brogue - won't take long to settle and is guaranteed to taste like crap. Why Guinness tastes better on the Emerald Isle than anywhere else in the world. "

Guinness isn't brewed only in Dublin.

And Guinness only "tastes better on the Emerald Isle" because: plane ticket$ and atmosphere.

Your points are all moot.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:11 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


billiebee: burgers that would probably make an actual American weep.

Joey Buttafoucault: My friend, you have no idea what kinds of shit actual Americans will eat if you slap it on a bun and call it a "burger." This is the country that invented White Castle, for god's sake.

But isn't that just faux-Americana that Americans sell to themselves? The "ambassador" of American burgers is something from a backyard grill; ridiculously big and juciy. We may eat White Castle burgers while drunk and/or high, but we don't aspire to make them ourselves.

If, for example, billiebee's experience with "American" burgers is McDonalds', that is a foreign policy crisis that we need to fix today.
posted by spaltavian at 11:14 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


And of course to rub salt in the wound, Diageo is a British company.

Created by a merger between Guinness and Grand Metropolitan.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:16 AM on March 18


It's too late to jump on this bandwagon, but for a bargain price I'll let you in on the ground floor of a new franchise opportunity, Haggis MacTartan's Auld Croft pubs, where we serve draught malt wash and deep-fried porridge-stuffed sheep entrails, all to the continuous wail of bagpipes and it's still not as pathetic as The Outback.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:17 AM on March 18 [22 favorites]


And of course to rub salt in the wound, Diageo is a British company.

Yeah. Guinness has had its headquarters in London since 1932 and is brewed in 60 countries. Parent company Diageo plc also owns Busmills, Baileys and Smithwick's. And Harp. Jameson is owned by Pernod Ricard, a French company. They also own Powers. Murphy's is owned by Heineken, a Dutch company.

Authenticity is a slippery snake, and we all know that St. Patrick drove them away.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:18 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


We're not creating pubs to reflect the modern experience of the Irish, but to reflect the myth of Ireland that Irish-Americans have created. So, no, it's not authentically Irish, but it is authentically Irish-American.

Yes and no. Non-Irish-Americans also had a certain investment in creating various mythic versions of Ireland. There's an awful lot of Tin Pan Alley in sentimental American evocations of The Auld Sod and a lot of the people creating that stuff weren't of Irish descent.

One could point to a similar phenomenon with the massive Europe-wide popularity of Scotland as an imaginative story-space in the C19th--Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoore, Bournonville's La Sylphide and so forth.

Which is simply to say that there are plenty of fingers--diasporic Irish and otherwise--in that cultural construction of "Ireland." Perhaps the neatest symbolic way to convey that is that both "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" are the products of both Irish and non-Irish composers and lyricists.
posted by yoink at 11:19 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


but for a bargain price I'll let you in on the ground floor of a new franchise opportunity, Haggis MacTartan's Auld Croft pubs

There's already "Tilted Kilt" which is basically Scotland as imagined by people who have only seen Braveheart combined with a Hooters.
posted by spaltavian at 11:19 AM on March 18 [9 favorites]


Authenticity is a slippery snake, and we all know that St. Patrick drove them away.

Also an Englishman!
posted by spaltavian at 11:20 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


It's too late to jump on this bandwagon, but for a bargain price I'll let you in on the ground floor of a new franchise opportunity, Haggis MacTartan's Auld Croft pubs, where we serve draught malt wash and deep-fried porridge-stuffed sheep entrails, all to the continuous wail of bagpipes and it's still not as pathetic as The Outback.

I've seen at least one fake Scottish pub, and been to a fake British pub that has since closed down (they served Scotch eggs, though, so that was nice). I have never seen a fake Welsh pub, though.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:21 AM on March 18


Guinness I've had in Ireland has ranged from terrible to amazing. Guinness I've had in the rest of Europe has pretty much always been terrible. I only had one pint of Guinness when I lived in the US for a year and it was pretty good.

There are lots of ways to mess a pint of Guinness up. I've seen barmen in France wash the glass with water right before pouring, which will ruin it. I've seen people pour it at 90 degrees in one go, giving it a flat head. I've had it served freezing cold, and from pretty blatantly dirty taps. Basically barmen often get something wrong if it's not their bread and butter.

This extends to other drinks outside their bases - for example, lots of Dublin barmen pour Beamish (only popular near Cork) with a massive head because they're not used to pouring it and are surprised when it's more gassy than Guinesss.
posted by kersplunk at 11:22 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I have never seen a fake Welsh pub, though.

Because no one would be able to pronounce its name.
posted by spaltavian at 11:23 AM on March 18 [14 favorites]


As a Waterford person though, I mostly drink it from large bottles.
posted by kersplunk at 11:23 AM on March 18


There's an awful lot of Tin Pan Alley in sentimental American evocations of The Auld Sod and a lot of the people creating that stuff weren't of Irish descent. [...] Perhaps the neatest symbolic way to convey that is that both "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" are the products of both Irish and non-Irish composers and lyricists.

Interestingly, "When Irish Eyes..." was actually targeted at Irish-Americans, or at least the first-generation Irish-Americans around at the time of the song's creation. It was written to subtly encourage the children of Irish immigrants to "stick to their own kind" when courting rather than marrying someone non-Irish.

I still like what my friend's brother said about this kind of music, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:24 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


There was something else going on prior to 2006 and 1999 that was driving the expansion and establishment of Irish pubs wouodwide, though. As far as I know, Fadó here in Seattle is the only pub-in-a-box we have, and there are many that well predate the 90s, including the Owl and Thistle, Kells, McHughs (cited above), McRory's (shared business heritage with McHugh's), Murphy's in Wallingford, Conor Byrne and the Old Pequliar in Ballard and certainly more.

However, during the 90s, beginning roughly coincident with the dot-com era, there was an explosion of new Irish pubs, including Mulleady's in Magnolia, the Irish Swell in West Seattle, Kincora in Capitol Hill (RIP), the Irish Emigrant in the U and of course Fadó.

As this was happening I would occasionally speak with the proprietors (who were in fact usually Irish) and ask why this was happening, and a common theme emerged. The proprietors had generally emigrated a few years prior and worked in one of the older pubs for a few years and saved money, been staked a loan by both family and their former employers, and launched the new venture in as organic a manner as you could ever want. Often they'd purchased an older bar or restaurant that was in need of a remodel and cleanup.

At the same time as these folks had been leaving home for far Amerikay, so had many of their countrymen, and part of what was driving these new businesses was a tech-industry migration. By the very late 90s, there was even a tech boom in Ireland proper and a reverse migration had started up. That went bust along with the real estate boom in the early 2000's, which, as I understand it, also enabled the closure and sale of many actually-old pubs in ireland proper, making the fixtures avaialble for export via the above-cited company.

How do I know this?

In the late 90s, all the new Irish pubs in town created a demand for live irish music, and for about four years I played in a band that gigged about twice a month at various Irish bars here in town. It was great fun.

I always figured that the development of the pub-in-a-box industry actually followed the development of the business-seeding cycle I lay out above. That cycle, by the way, strongly reminds me of the way that Mexican restaurants spread in this region as well. I rather imagine it to be a pretty common way for any style of ethnic eatery to disseminate in a settlement region.
posted by mwhybark at 11:24 AM on March 18 [7 favorites]


O'Flaherty's in the New Orleans French Quarter never re-opened after Katrina. I swear they were in business before 1991 but I can't document it.
posted by bukvich at 11:24 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


A friend who used to live there told me there was a Canadian-themed pub somewhere in Boston (might still be there, I have no idea); snowshoes and stuffed beavers on the wall, that sort of thing. I'd like to visit some day to make karmic atonement for the time I dragged my Australian ex-girlfriend to the Outback Steakhouse for the lulz.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:25 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: "Surely that's an untestable hypothesis, though?

Totally untestable, but it seems to be pretty axiomatic that the quality of Guinness deteriorates the further away from the Guinness brewery you get.
"
I have seldom seen a better argument for hiring marketing people than this factless customer endorsement.

You even admit your opinion is unprovable. It's not, of course.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:26 AM on March 18


Also an Englishman!

It's generally accepted that St Patrick was probably Welsh. Which makes I have never seen a fake Welsh pub, though. kind of ironic.
posted by billiebee at 11:26 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


"American" "diners" with Americana memorabilia

I took a photo of a restaurant in Rome called "T-Bone Station: The American Steakhouse." I sort of wanted to go inside, just to see what that actually meant.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:28 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, "When Irish Eyes..." was actually targeted at Irish-Americans, or at least the first-generation Irish-Americans around at the time of the song's creation. It was written to subtly encourage the children of Irish immigrants to "stick to their own kind" when courting rather than marrying someone non-Irish.

I'd be interested to see some documentation of that claim. You'd think that any such message would have been pretty badly undercut, from the lyricist's point of view, by the fact that he turned to a non-Irish-American composer to write the tune.
posted by yoink at 11:28 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


In Toronto, we have our own chain of fake British pubs, founded in the ripe old year of 1987. Or so the North American company was; the British brewery was founded in the 70s. (See Firkin Pubs outside the UK).
posted by jb at 11:28 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Wait. So 'Irish Bars' in American are not authentic Irish?

So where does that leave us Southside Irish who feel a particular kinship to this kind of sentimentality?
posted by hal_c_on at 11:29 AM on March 18


Shepherd--after having had a few pints in a "Irish" pub near Columbus Circle in NYC about four years ago--has created a running joke between us about opening up an "authentic fake Irish pub" called Fighty O'Shamrock's, with a picture of David Boreanaz as Angel over the bar with the words "Our Founder."
posted by Kitteh at 11:31 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Oh, I should add, re "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" that the lyrics themselves were a collaboration between an Irish-American and a non-Irish-American (at least, I'm assuming that George Graff wasn't Irish). So I'm even more skeptical of the claim that it was a piece of racial-purity propaganda.
posted by yoink at 11:31 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I went to an Irish pub in Portugal and one in Italy.

The beer is garbage, food is below average and I got tired of listening to The Cranberries on rotation. But no matter where in the world you are, everyone knows "Irish pub" is short hand for "you don't have to get dressed up" and "you can drink till you puke and no one will judge you."

Therefore VIVE LE PUB IRISH
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:34 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Perhaps the neatest symbolic way to convey that is that both "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" are the products of both Irish and non-Irish composers and lyricists.

I'd say that's a large part of the Irish-American experience, but of course I would -- I'm half-English (although, aparently, Scottish if you go back far enough) and was adopted by Jews.

As I see it, the Irish-American identity is something created in collusion with other American groups, especially new American groups, which is why we eat corned beef (a Jewish food), play the banjo (an African instrument), wear kilts (Scottish), and drink green beer (don't know who, but they should be shot).

Christmas is a mostly American holiday too, and, as far as I can tell, was largely invented by Jews.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:34 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


I'm now wondering how many of the Blarney Stones and Darby O'Gill's in New York are done by this company, versus just general freelance fake Irish tackiness.

My favorite is in Kensington, Brooklyn, and is called Shenanigan's. Nobody Irish works there, and it's pretty clear that all the Irish road signs and U2 posters and Guinness swag are not, like, Authentic Irish Stuff. But it's authentic in its own way, as a New York outer borough sort of thing.

It's sort of like what New York did to Chinese food. Is it authentically Chinese? No. But it's authentically something.
posted by Sara C. at 11:36 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Christmas [...] as far as I can tell, was largely invented by Jews.

To be fair, so was Jesus.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:36 AM on March 18 [26 favorites]


... Parent company Diageo plc also owns Busmills, Baileys and Smithwick's....

And a variety of single malt Scotch properties such as Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Craggamore, and Glenkinchie. It's a huge company.
posted by aught at 11:39 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod: "Christmas is a mostly American holiday too, and, as far as I can tell, was largely invented by Jews.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:34 PM on March 18 [+] [!] [quote]
"

The US "Christmas traditions" (right down to buying lots of presents and wrapping them) is British, and was invented by Charles Dickens.

Not clear at all how you got the idea that Jews were involved. A conspiracy, perhaps?
posted by IAmBroom at 11:40 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


It's sort of like what New York did to Chinese food. Is it authentically Chinese? No. But it's authentically something.

All I know is that La Choy made Chinese food swiiiing American.

Just read up on La Choy. It was cocreated by a Korean man, Dr. Ilhan New, and an American, Wally Smith , who was later killed by lightning. Nothing to do with this conversation, except that it's an example of hybrid-American culture being created in collaboration with ethnic outsiders. I just thought it was interesting he was killed by lightning.

La Choy is now owned by Con Agra, which is about four blocks from my apartment. I'll keep my eye out for thunderclouds, because you never know.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:42 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


There's an awful lot of Tin Pan Alley in sentimental American evocations of The Auld Sod and a lot of the people creating that stuff weren't of Irish descent.

Absolutely true, but the emotional ties between Ireland and America run so deep than I'm not convinced that the literal ancestral blood ties are quite as important as they might be otherwise. Maybe it stems from romanticizing on the part of people without Irish heritage, maybe it stems from the large impact that mass immigration from Ireland had on American culture, or maybe it's some combination of the two.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:42 AM on March 18


Having had innumerable pints all along the east coast of the US, and a good many while in Ireland itself (from trad pubs to the brewery itself), that is total hogwash.

Yeah, that was my experience. I couldn't wait to have a Guinness in Ireland, thinking it would be something amazing wherever I went, like someone who knows only Pizza Hut getting a slice of pizza in New York City for the first time.

It was... Guinness. Maybe we just know how to pour them here in Boston, but in Ireland It was certainly good, but it wasn't anything special. What made it special was the fact that I was drinking a Guinness in a feckin' pub in feckin' Ireland.

Also, when I was there a lot of the locals were drinking Budweiser. It was pretty sad.

This is a fun book. The author travels all over Ireland looking for "the perfect pint" only to find that, wherever he went, someone would tell him of a place that really knows how to pour a pint. Everyone had elaborate theories about why some other place had the better pint. "Oh, their pipes only go horizontally so there's no sediment flux in the hammerflanger..." Spoiler alert: It mostly came down to atmosphere.
posted by bondcliff at 11:42 AM on March 18


To be fair, so was Jesus.


I think your thinking about Saul down in accounts receivable. I'm pretty sure Jesus's folks came from Albuquerque.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:42 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


There's already "Tilted Kilt" which is basically Scotland as imagined by people who have only seen Braveheart combined with a Hooters.

Ugh, Tilted Kilt. I was dragged there for a friend's birthday once (in all fairness, she does enjoy looking at men and women in kilts). Bizarrely, the amount of faux-Scottish bricabrac on the walls was matched only by the amount of faux-Irish bricabrac. Posters for Braveheart were displayed side-by-side with posters for Waking Ned Devine (which I now learn, despite its Irish setting, was written and directed by an Englishman and filmed on the Isle of Man). It was the worst real-life example of the Scotireland trope I've ever seen.

(And of course the cocktail menu includes an Irish Car Bomb, only it's been renamed the "Belfast Boom," which somehow manages to be even more offensive.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:42 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Just did some research on George Graff (a hard man to pin down: "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" seems to have been his sole hit). He was of Dutch and German descent, and never visited Ireland. And the one Irish-American involved in its creation (co-lyricist Chauncey Olcott) was born in the US to an Irish mother and a non-Irish father.
posted by yoink at 11:43 AM on March 18


I'm just happy Tom Bergin's managed to reopen, even though they still don't have the restaurant open on weekdays (and that is a sad thing considering I used to walk over there for lunch every week or so).

I don't know about its authenticity as an Irish pub, but it isn't an IPCo, it certainly is one of the places to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Los Angeles, it's been around for almost eight years and they've got Cary Grant's table in the corner -- so it's got some sort of authenticity.
posted by linux at 11:43 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


IAmBroom: Jewish songwriters.
posted by Lou Stuells at 11:46 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Not clear at all how you got the idea that Jews were involved. A conspiracy, perhaps?

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was written by a Jewish man.
White Christmas? Jewish man.
Chestnuts Roasting on a Open Fire? Yep.
Additionally, a lot of Christmas customs were promoted and displayed by department stores, which were largely Jewish owned or managed.

I was exaggerating in the service of comedy, but nonetheless, Christmas in America is closely linked to Jews in this country.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:49 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Re Christmas and Jewishness -- I think folks are thinking of the fact that a lot of the more secular modern Holiday songs by Jewish people, Christmas movies directed by Jewish filmmakers, and probably some of the specific 20th century toy trends, retailing traditions, and the like. Not so much "you get a tree and you decorate it and there are presents", which is a Victorian thing.
posted by Sara C. at 11:51 AM on March 18


> Bizarrely, the amount of faux-Scottish bricabrac on the walls was matched only by the amount of faux-Irish bricabrac.

The only good gag in this movie is when the "Irish" boxing challenger enters the ring and they play bagpipe music.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:52 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to see some documentation of that claim. You'd think that any such message would have been pretty badly undercut, from the lyricist's point of view, by the fact that he turned to a non-Irish-American composer to write the tune.

Hmm. I'll admit that I got that from a claim made by my professor in a college course in "Irish Literature"; while I trust his claim impeccably, as he really knew his shit, I'll admit that he offered not documentation, nor can I find any. It's possible that either he or I garbled it being adopted by such a "stick to your own kind" sentiment, so I withdraw.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:52 AM on March 18


when I was there a lot of the locals were drinking Budweiser.

True in London too. Had the chance to ask about this, in London at least, and it came down to Bud's brand positioning in the UK: it's modern and aspirational, while the usual gallery of sponsord handles (it's common for a pub to have a large-scale beer distributor as a partial business partner, limiting the selection of handles) is viewed as heavy and appropriate only if you are embracing the blotto aspects of UK pub culture.

Of course, Ireland is an independent nation so the local semiotics of Budweiser may differ appreciably from those I observed in London.
posted by mwhybark at 11:54 AM on March 18


The only good gag in this movie is when the "Irish" boxing challenger enters the ring and they play bagpipe music.

Later, Brian Setzer, dressed in green, rises up out of the floor playing "Danny Boy" on electric guitar. It's spectacular.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:54 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


it came down to Bud's brand positioning in the UK: it's modern and aspirational

This is hilarious considering the number of Europeans who scoff at Stella Artois' similar brand positioning in the US.
posted by Sara C. at 11:58 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


I figure it's gotta go better than my previous idea for a Manx-themed pub, where we specialized in birch beer and nobody got it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:59 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


(and they play bagpipe music

there are irish bagpipes, uilleann pipes, fwiw, without knowing if the pipes in the movie are of this ilk or not)

posted by mwhybark at 12:00 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


And instead, I'll offer another example of someone talking out their ass with a claim that kinda makes sense if you think about it. :-)

Something an old boss of mine said once about immigrant groups and assimilation kinda makes sense on paper as a theory for "why is everyone all up in Irish stuff now". He came up with this theory in the mid-late 90's; his argument was that immigrants, and their descendants, have tended to go through a few distinct stages when it came to assimilation:

* The immigrants themselves are just trying to figure out what the hell is going on in their new home.
* The first and second generations after that tend to be super-focused on assimilating.
* By the third or fourth generation, assimilation has kind of "taken"; maybe this generation knows that "yeah, we're [nationality], apparently, but no big whoop." They don't really keep with any of the traditions or anything.
* Then by the fourth or fifth generation, that's when people start getting interested in "wait, apparently I'm [nationality]. I wonder what that means?" And they start delving into trying to seek out "authentically [nationality]" stuff.

There are exceptions, of course (one of my old roommates was first-generation Ukranian-American, and he was definitely still in touch with his culture), but I can see at least a proportion of different immigrant families following that pattern. And my boss's ultimate point was....the largest concentration of emigrants from Ireland to the US happened in the 1840's, which was about five generations ago. So even if only a fraction of the time was that kind of pattern the case, that's still a fuck of a lot of people wanting to embrace some personal "Irishness". Combine that with the Celtic Tiger monetary boom in the late 90's/early 2000's, and....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:01 PM on March 18


(See Firkin Pubs outside the UK)

I will say that the food at the Firkin & Phoenix here in Houston is *really* good.
posted by mrbill at 12:02 PM on March 18


This is hilarious considering the number of Europeans who scoff at Stella Artois' similar brand positioning in the US.

Indeed! The same observation occurred during my conversations. We were there for a wedding and ended spending time with a mixed-nationality crew over several days, and the eyerolling at USian orders for Stella was noted with good humor.
posted by mwhybark at 12:03 PM on March 18


I will say that the food at the Firkin & Phoenix here in Houston is *really* good.

Much better than the food over at their sister pub; the Merkin & Kleenex!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:08 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Guinness is the Irish equivalent to Bud/Canadian/Fosters sold abroad. Heck Stella Artois is regular beer in Holland too. The Irish are just as weirded out as we are at seeing their cheap domestic beer sold as something special abroad.

I happen to like Guinness now that they've worked out much of the shipping problems---a decade ago, I agree, it could be really terrible. Now though, a pint in distant Ottawa is very very similar to the same export beer fresh from the tap in the Dublin brewery. It's low calorie compared to most Canadian domestics and I prefer the flavour. But I'm equally not going to rag on those folks in London for whom Canadian was a popular beer a couple of years ago.

I still think it's a bit silly to pay more for Stella or Lowenbrau though.
posted by bonehead at 12:10 PM on March 18


Something an old boss of mine said once about immigrant groups and assimilation kinda makes sense on paper as a theory for "why is everyone all up in Irish stuff now".

That's true for a lot of Jews. My adoptive great grandparents spoke Yiddish in this country. Their kids fought Italians in New York neighborhoods. Their kids, my adoptive parents, largely assimilated. My brother's kids call his grandparents Bubbe and zayde and are named Jacob and Issac, and there are an awful lot of little Jewish kids nowadays named Ari and Shoshana. I expect the next generation will have Schmuels and Zeldas and Zalmans and Goldes.

We'll have to see if the Patricks become Pádraigs.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:11 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


there are irish bagpipes, uilleann pipes, fwiw, without knowing if the pipes in the movie are of this ilk or not

Not only that but the bagpipes we now think of as definitively "Scottish" have just as long a history in Ireland (the uillean pipes being a more recent invention). "Tradition" is usually 9/10s invention. The Scottish got onto the game of inventing and branding their "immemorial" traditions in a big way in the C19th.
posted by yoink at 12:11 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


We'll have to see if the Patricks become Pádraigs.

That's already happening, I think.
posted by yoink at 12:12 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Hell, I'm not sure why Pabst Blue Ribbon is suddenly a Thing in the US, and that's not even an import.

We'll have to see if the Patricks become Pádraigs.

Oh, that happens - I've met a lot of Siobhanns and Seans and Maeves.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:13 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]




Oh, and a famous example is Liam Neeson naming his son Micheál rather than Michael (although, granted, that's a first-generation transition).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:15 PM on March 18


An ancient gardener in our Devon parish in the 1980s had stomach cancer, which was hoiked out but left him not much good at digestion. He was prescribed four pints of Guinness a day - paid for by the NHS - for nutritional purposes.

Seemed to do fine on that regime.
posted by Devonian at 12:15 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I can't get too bent out of shape about the commodification of the aesthetic - it's got a broad appeal because it works well at creating a welcoming environment. At least the Pub Company is based out of Ireland, though I wonder how much of the material goods are produced in Asia. I've never been in a place so fancy as the pictures on their website - they look expensive.

I live in Massachusetts and don't wander far from home very much, so drinking establishments celebrating various degrees of 'Irishness' are part of the landscape, and I'd never question that they were at least founded by someone enthusiastic about their heritage. By contrast, Mexican restaurants in New Hampshire are always gimmicky.
posted by Lou Stuells at 12:16 PM on March 18


It came down to Bud's brand positioning in the UK: it's modern and aspirational.

Possibly. I remember being impressed at how readily available it was on tap when I was on holiday (from England) with my parents in Ireland when I was 17 in 1997. It's normally only in bottles in the UK. Ubiquitous and marketed exactly the same way as Stella: pseudo-premium.
posted by ambrosen at 12:18 PM on March 18


It's nice to know who I can blame for the idea of freaking "cobble stones" in a huge, dark bar. High heels + full drinks + ninja cobble stones + maybe a drink or two already in me = not a good idea, fado.
posted by atomicstone at 12:19 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


We may eat White Castle burgers while drunk and/or high, but we don't aspire to make them ourselves.

Speak for yourself. I love White Castle burgers. They get that great moist onion flavor. They are really in a category of their own. I would love to reproduce that at home.

I'm not sure what to think of Irishness, the Irish Americans, or faux-Irishness, but now that my daughter has taken up Irish step dancing I will have many parades and St. Patrick's Day events during which to consider the issue.
posted by Area Man at 12:20 PM on March 18


We'll have to see if the Patricks become Pádraigs.

My old college chum Mike Sullivan now goes by Misha Súileabháin, so yeah.
posted by mwhybark at 12:20 PM on March 18


So even if only a fraction of the time was that kind of pattern the case, that's still a fuck of a lot of people wanting to embrace some personal "Irishness".

And then combine that with the trend for Irish and Irish-inspired media in the 90s that hit just at the right time. You've got U2 in the late 80's/early 90's, all those Irish indie comedies that spawned a generation of imitators a few years later, Angela's Ashes, Enya, etc.

I'm not sure which came first, Irish-Americans wanting to get in touch with their roots or a slew of Irish media to help them do that, but it definitely enabled a lot of non-Irish people to consume cultural output that might make them more likely to seek out a pint of Guinness at a "totally authentic" Irish bar a la TFA.
posted by Sara C. at 12:22 PM on March 18


I was exaggerating in the service of comedy, but nonetheless, Christmas in America is closely linked to Jews in this country.

To be fair, it's my understanding that Hanukkah is not really that big a deal for Jewish communities in other countries, but was kind of amped up by Jews in America as a means of demonstrating assimilation, of basically having a big December (usually) holiday that could stand alongside the big American Christmas, and so show that people are all more or less the same here in the land of the free.

So it's not that far off to say that Hanukkah in America is equally closely linked to gentiles in this country.
posted by Naberius at 12:26 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I love White Castle burgers. They get that great moist onion flavor. They are really in a category of their own. I would love to reproduce that at home.

Food Lab has you covered.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:27 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


We'll have to see if the Patricks become Pádraigs.

Aren't Aidan and Liam the most popular names for boys in America right now?

I'm pretty sure that if I'd been born a decade later than I was, I'd have been Siobhan instead of Sara -- my dad floated it as a possibility and my mom responded, "Isn't that a brand of toilet paper?" In 1980.

I have a younger brother named Ian who started school (1990) with nobody even grasping that that's an actual name, and by the time he graduated from high school (2003) had to be Ian C.
posted by Sara C. at 12:28 PM on March 18


So the running joke about Tipsy McStaggers from the Flaming Moe episode of the Simpsons back in 1991 was pretty timely?
posted by radwolf76 at 12:29 PM on March 18


I love White Castle burgers...I would love to reproduce that at home.

Why bother reproducing, when that great White Castle taste is as close as your supermarket's freezer?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:32 PM on March 18


Yeah, the pub-in-a-box boom happened at the same time as a lot of other stuff that made "authentic Irish culture" mainstream in the US. The Commitments came out in 1991. Riverdance was 1994 or so. U2 was huge at that time, and there were a lot of other popular Irish bands that traded on ideas about authentic, sincere Irish culture. Interestingly, all that stuff happened right before the Irish economy went into serious boom mode, which I think changed really big things about Ireland's relationship with the US.
Aren't Aidan and Liam the most popular names for boys in America right now?
Yeah, but I think they're only vaguely considered Irish-American, in the same way that lots of guys of my generation were named Kevin or Brian even though their parents had no particular identification with Ireland.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:33 PM on March 18


now that my daughter has taken up Irish step dancing I will have many parades and St. Patrick's Day events during which to consider the issue.

* winces in sympathy, hugs you *

I kid. Irish step dancing is actually cool enough to have had a whole feature done on it on CBS this past Sunday morning; even here, though, they also address the evolution of the image thing; the reporter filing the story was a step dancer herself, and she remarks on how the costumes and big hair she's seeing today were much blingy-er than when she was a kid. (Oh my god, the ringleted wigs in that video....)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:36 PM on March 18


it came down to Bud's brand positioning in the UK: it's modern and aspirational

FWIW no one I know would drink Bud if they were dying of thirst. It's German beers or Peroni or Asian beers like Tiger.

The Irish are just as weirded out as we are at seeing their cheap domestic beer sold as something special abroad.

I also disagree with this. Guinness is seen very much as an Irish Thing To Be Proud Of. Also fun fact: women who had just given birth were given a glass of Guinness because its (allegedly) a good source of iron.
posted by billiebee at 12:40 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Re Peroni and stuff like Tiger, this is hilarious, because these are basically the exact same ersatz pilsner swill as Budweiser.
posted by Sara C. at 12:46 PM on March 18


Peroni as hip, expensive imported beer is a trick they play on people in the US, too. You can avoid these tricks by following the (more or less) iron clad rule of beer drinking: if the wine from the country is good, avoid the beer.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:47 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Come on now. You get the best Guinness in Belgium where they have the 8% ABV Guinness Special Export in most stores.
posted by brokkr at 12:51 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I'm going to blame NPR for carrying Fiona Ritchie's Thistle and Shamrock nationwide for this mania for all things Irish/Celtic.
posted by vespabelle at 12:53 PM on March 18


Guinness is seen very much as an Irish Thing To Be Proud Of.

Largely, I think that stems from the fact that their particular cheap domestic is not utter and complete shite like the rest of us poor sods.

Of course, a large part of the difference besides the misty eyed nostalgia is that you're most often drinking Extra Stout rather than just Draft which you'd be more likely to get in a pub in Ireland, manufactured or not. You can also buy the Special Export in Ireland, but that's for those people that buy "premium" Budweiser.

Edit: Got my types mixed up.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:54 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Peroni as hip, expensive imported beer is a trick they play on people in the US, too. You can avoid these tricks by following the (more or less) iron clad rule of beer drinking: if the wine from the country is good, avoid the beer.

But that won't help with Stella Artois. I need more rules!
posted by Area Man at 12:55 PM on March 18


Metafilter: the semiotics of Budweiser

I love this place.
posted by travertina at 1:05 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


if the wine from the country is good, avoid the beer.

Weirdly, I like German wine.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:11 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


The "ambassador" of American burgers is something from a backyard grill; ridiculously big and juciy.

I hate to say it, but after nearly 20 years of grilling, the best hamburgers I ever had were made by my housemate, a Japanese exchange student. Fried in a pan. I've still never quite mastered her recipe.

There probably isn't an authentic American food. If I dig deep enough, I'll probably find out my favorite ribs recipe comes from Nairobi or Bangladesh or somewheres.
posted by happyroach at 1:11 PM on March 18


...not all the Irish pubs in the US are part of this company, are they? Particularly in well-fortified Irish zones like Boston - some of those are at least independent, right?

Well, I have ben thinking about a bunch of Saw Doctors shows I went to in the 90s in Boston, and I think that most of the places I saw them are gone or different now. Tramp's in New York (which admittedly wasn't Oirish-themed) is long gone, and the Irish Embassy in Boston -- where I saw three shows in a row in like 1997 -- looks to have been prettified since then.

But there were neighborhood bars with a sort of Irish them in Boston before then, like the Kells in Allston/Brighton and the very good Plough & Stars in Cambridge.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:14 PM on March 18


Also fun fact: women who had just given birth were given a glass of Guinness because its (allegedly) a good source of iron.

My wife (who gave birth in 2010) was told to drink stouts (like Avery's The Czar, yum) after my daughter was born because they helped with breast milk production.
posted by sideshow at 1:15 PM on March 18


There probably isn't an authentic American food. If I dig deep enough, I'll probably find out my favorite ribs recipe comes from Nairobi or Bangladesh or somewheres.

Kinda, yeah, but you can say that about a lot of world cuisines (depending on the exact definition of "digging deep enough").

This does seem to be especially the case for America, though. Ironically, it was in a conversation with an Irish couple (my friend's brother and his wife) that this came up; they were visiting me for the day, and he asked "if an American person was out of the country for a long time, what is the most quintessentially American food that they'd miss?" And I realized that there really wasn't a single answer to that, because it depended so much on region.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:15 PM on March 18


I've been in this bar in Quebec City, of all places. Upon reflection, there may have been subtle language clues that it was less than authentic...
posted by Yowser at 1:18 PM on March 18


Tom Bergin's....it's been around for almost eight years and they've got Cary Grant's table in the corner -- so it's got some sort of authenticity.

Tom Bergin's was established in 1936 - I think you meant 80 years.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:19 PM on March 18


if the wine from the country is good, avoid the beer.

Weirdly, I like German wine.


Actually, Moravian wine ain't half bad either! And we all know there's no good beer in California.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:19 PM on March 18


He was prescribed four pints of Guinness a day - paid for by the NHS - for nutritional purposes.


I donated blood in London in 1993, and each time I during the recovery phase I was given some biscuits and a choice between tea, lemon drink, a Fresca, or a stubby can of Guinness. When I moved back to Boston, damn betcha I always reminded the Brigham & Women's Hospital blood bank staff that they weren't measuring up.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:23 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget America's own home-brewed faux-Irish Pub chain...
posted by Thorzdad at 1:26 PM on March 18


Let's not forget America's own home-brewed faux-Irish Pub chain...

You mean this one?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:30 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Over 130 comments in, and I'm surprised no one has mentioned "At World's End", which not only made a point to make fun of the homogenization of pubs (termed "Starbucking"), but also made it an element of the plot.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:33 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


10th Regiment: When at Bennigan's be sure to make the most of your authentic Irish experience with the County Clare Sampler. Featuring generous, table-shareable portions of Nachos, Hogan’s Egg Rolls and Dubliner Quesadillas. $13.00
posted by Naberius at 1:38 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised no one has mentioned "At World's End"

That film takes place in England. This thread is about Ireland.
posted by Sara C. at 1:41 PM on March 18


Same thing, isn't it?
*runs away*
posted by entropicamericana at 1:42 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Over 130 comments in, and I'm surprised no one has mentioned "At World's End", which not only made a point to make fun of the homogenization of pubs (termed "Starbucking"), but also made it an element of the plot.

Welcome to Costco, I love you.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:43 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


Re Peroni and stuff like Tiger, this is hilarious, because these are basically the exact same ersatz pilsner swill as Budweiser

To be fair I wouldn't have a clue, since all beer/stout/lager/pilsner (I mean I literally have no idea what pilsner means) tastes of gross to me, and I pretty much only drink gin or cider. Just saying that I've never heard Bud called "aspirational" - its what the boys drank when we were 15 because they'd seen it in films and so it must be cool.
posted by billiebee at 1:45 PM on March 18


Re UK vs. Ireland, this comes to mind. Really relevant bit is at 1:50.
posted by Sara C. at 1:48 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


its what the boys drank when we were 15 because they'd seen it in films and so it must be cool.

It's also a good-enough session beer. When you're 16 or 18 (and well into your twenties and thirties in the case of many of the crowd I grew up with in Dublin) it's all about knocking back as many pints or cans as possible, nobody really cares about taste too much. For a lot of Irish people, of my age and background anyway, you picked one beer almost randomly whether carlsberg or bud or harp or bulmers when you were a teen. Out of habit you were still drinking a hell of a lot of it when your binge drinking years ended, even if you'd added wine and other things by then. The guinness drinkers were seen as a bit pickier, with their scoffing at the "wrong" pint glasses and their need to drink something else in the summer and so on.

When I moved to the states with friends and saw americans changing their choice of beer based on what they were eating or where they were drinking - or who would try a new beer they'd never heard of! - we were kind of amazed. Irish people drink a lot, and our pub culture is great, but we're not knowledgeable or adventurous or snobby drinkers on the whole, in my experience.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:54 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


One of the many things that I appreciate about craft beer in the US is that it has helped stem the growth of Irish Pubs.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:59 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


It's also a good-enough session beer. When you're 16 or 18 (and well into your twenties and thirties in the case of many of the crowd I grew up with in Dublin) it's all about knocking back as many pints or cans as possible, nobody really cares about taste too much.

This is very true, and in fact as a grownup American lady, even now, if I want something cheap that's going to leave me able to drive home, I'll opt for a Budweiser (never bud lite) or maybe Pabst. Especially if it's a divey place that's not going to have anything fancy, anyway.
posted by Sara C. at 2:03 PM on March 18


Re: Diageo basically owning two thirds of the world's signature inebriants, I'm wondering: are non-compete agreements common in acquisitions?

Let's say my family owns some famous old Highland distillery, and we sell out to Diageo. If we then build a new distillery up the road under a new name and go right back into business, and because the trade knows who we are we're a raging success even without coming right out and saying "never mind that old muck somebody else makes it now, drink ours it's what you came for", are we gonna get sued?
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:04 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


My old college chum Mike Sullivan now goes by Misha Súileabháin, so yeah.

Is he half Russian?
posted by fshgrl at 2:05 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


...not all the Irish pubs in the US are part of this company, are they? Particularly in well-fortified Irish zones like Boston - some of those are at least independent, right?

Well, I have ben thinking about a bunch of Saw Doctors shows I went to in the 90s in Boston, and I think that most of the places I saw them are gone or different now. Tramp's in New York (which admittedly wasn't Oirish-themed) is long gone, and the Irish Embassy in Boston -- where I saw three shows in a row in like 1997 -- looks to have been prettified since then.

But there were neighborhood bars with a sort of Irish them in Boston before then, like the Kells in Allston/Brighton and the very good Plough & Stars in Cambridge.
It's actually somewhat interesting to compare the multiple species of Irish pubs in the Boston metro area, that have each evolved like three different lizards, one a long-lived species and the other a new invasive, and a third a hybrid of the two.

For one, you have places like Doyle's and the Plough and Stars which were institutions before the pub boom and did lay a foundation for a generation of Irish pubs that specifically cater to the longtime Irish American experience of Boston that is about Americans who just happen to be Irish and basically needed a place for themselves to drink while they were being marginalized by the WASPy mainstream. Then, there are newer bars like Matt Murphy or The Druid, which cater specifically to Irish expats, where you can see rugby on the telly on a weekend and listen to a seissun on the weeknight; and yeah, sure, they'll have their St. Patrick's Day celebration and grit their teeth through every pronunciation of it as "St. Paddy's", but they don't bend over backwards to cater to the locals. Then there are the new bars like The Kinsale and The Asgard (because what's more irish than invoking Norse mythology? What?) which are solidly in the Filthy McNasty vein of Pub In A Box franchises, and none of us drink there except under extreme duress.

They're all obviously from a common parent and genus, and a Guinness in each tastes about as good as a Guinness in the other, but everything else about the experience is almost foreign to the other.
posted by bl1nk at 2:07 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Let's say my family owns some famous old Highland distillery, and we sell out to Diageo. If we then build a new distillery up the road under a new name and go right back into business, and because the trade knows who we are we're a raging success even without coming right out and saying "never mind that old muck somebody else makes it now, drink ours it's what you came for", are we gonna get sued?

I'm not sure how this works with Diageo specifically, or in the world of whiskey and beer. But I know a number of California winery families have done exactly this and nobody cares.

That said, they tend to sell the family name to the big corporation, and then go on to make more exclusive wines under a different name. So it's not like you've got competitive products on store shelves next to each other. You can buy an $8 bottle of Robert Mondavi cabernet sauvignon in a supermarket, or you can buy a $200 bottle of Continuum from a private mailing list. It's unlikely that whoever now owns the Mondavi name is going to try to screw the Mondavi family by preventing them from ever making wine again.
posted by Sara C. at 2:15 PM on March 18


Let's say my family owns some famous old Highland distillery, and we sell out to Diageo. If we then build a new distillery up the road under a new name and go right back into business, and because the trade knows who we are we're a raging success even without coming right out and saying "never mind that old muck somebody else makes it now, drink ours it's what you came for", are we gonna get sued?

I am certain there would be language in the sale contract preventing this.
posted by aught at 2:20 PM on March 18


I'm equally not going to rag on those folks in London for whom Canadian was a popular beer a couple of years ago.

When I visited 15 or 20 years back, I saw Labatt Ice pennant banners on pub patios. I reserve my right to rag on them.

I hate to say it, but after nearly 20 years of grilling, the best hamburgers I ever had were made by my housemate, a Japanese exchange student. Fried in a pan. I've still never quite mastered her recipe.


Betcha it involves a bit of ground pork mixed in. That's what my friend's mom used to do in Japan and it was so good.
posted by Hoopo at 2:25 PM on March 18


Ireland, as much of the world knows it, was invented in 1991.

As someone who grew up with parents who constantly played The Clancy Brothers/Tommy Makem and the Dubliners, I would disagree with that statement.
posted by Melismata at 2:27 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Non-competes are typically time limited. So, I could imagine someone waiting one out and then re-entering the business.
posted by Area Man at 2:27 PM on March 18


Let's say my family owns some famous old Highland distillery, and we sell out to Diageo. If we then build a new distillery up the road under a new name and go right back into business, and because the trade knows who we are we're a raging success even without coming right out and saying "never mind that old muck somebody else makes it now, drink ours it's what you came for", are we gonna get sued?

Chances are you also sold your family's ancient copper stills along with the secret recipe as well as the services of Angus the night watchman whose nocturnal micturitions were the real secret to your success.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 2:30 PM on March 18 [11 favorites]


Let's say my family owns some famous old Highland distillery, and we sell out to Diageo. If we then build a new distillery up the road under a new name and go right back into business, and because the trade knows who we are we're a raging success even without coming right out and saying "never mind that old muck somebody else makes it now, drink ours it's what you came for", are we gonna get sued?

Diageo is buying the brand name, because that's what 90-plus percent of people who buy bottles of The Old Spiggott off the shelf are looking for, and if they lose 10 percent of that business, they're still ahead on the deal.
posted by Etrigan at 2:36 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I keep finding myself drinking Guinness because at a lot of places with a shit beer selection, Guinness is the only dark thing on the menu, and I like stouts a lot. New Holland's Dragon's Milk Stout is heavy, dark, filling stuff, and probably my favorite beer, but the vast majority of bars will have Guinness and won't have that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:46 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


O'Flaherty's in the New Orleans French Quarter never re-opened after Katrina. I swear they were in business before 1991 but I can't document it.

On-line sources say Danny O'Flaherty ran it for about 16 years, and it closed in 2006, so round about then. No idea if he used IPC to build it. He's running Celtic music tours and cruises (mostly out of New Orleans) these days.
posted by Mad_Carew at 2:52 PM on March 18


On NPR yesterday there was footage of the Boston St. Paddy's Day parade. It featured bagpipes playing "Scotland the Brave."
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:57 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


On NPR yesterday there was footage of the Boston St. Paddy's Day parade. It featured bagpipes playing "Scotland the Brave."

Is that all they had to contribute about the Boston parade? None of the controversy that's been going on for 20+ years?
posted by Melismata at 2:59 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


On NPR yesterday there was footage of the Boston St. Paddy's Day parade. It featured bagpipes playing "Scotland the Brave."

I used to hear the same song from the pipers at the St. Patrick's Day parade here in Minneapolis (there weren't any pipers this year, which is one way to solve the problem). I've also pipers playing Scotland the Brave during church services. Could it be that many pipers only know that one song?
posted by Area Man at 3:02 PM on March 18


This somehow seems cromulent: Irish banned from St Patrick's Day.
posted by graymouser at 3:08 PM on March 18


They we're doing a story about Guinness pulling out of the parade because of the prohibition of gay displays.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 3:08 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Based on this very article, Ms. jason6 and I started to use "Irish-Pub-in-a-box" to refer to these very places.

Somehow I seem to have ended up in one of these places in almost every country I've ever been to and the phrase we always used was "Irish bar starter kit." I guess we weren't that far off.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:13 PM on March 18


not all the Irish pubs in the US are part of this company, are they? Particularly in well-fortified Irish zones like Boston - some of those are at least independent, right?

There are Irish Pubs and then there are pubs that happen to be owned by and/or have as clientele Irish or Irish-Americans.

In the DC area, an example of the latter used to be Pat Troy's in Old Town, which was owned by a northern Irish guy named Pat Troy and it served Irish food and sometimes had Irish music, but it really wasn't an "Irish Pub" in the Irish Pub Company / pub-in-a-box sense. It was really a pretty standard cop/military bar. My impression was always that the proprietor didn't open it to be an "Irish pub" but just as a pub, and it was just good luck that the kind of pub he knew how to run also happened to push a lot of buttons for Americans, in a way that if he'd been (say) Latvian or something, probably wouldn't have worked as profitably.

I think places like that have mostly been overshadowed by the IPC pubs, and also perhaps due to changing economic conditions in Ireland there aren't a lot of publicians emigrating to the States and setting up shop here. It's certainly not due to disinterest on the part of Americans in Irish (or faux-Irish) pub culture.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:15 PM on March 18


If we then build a new distillery up the road under a new name and go right back into business, and because the trade knows who we are we're a raging success even without coming right out and saying "never mind that old muck somebody else makes it now, drink ours it's what you came for"

Isn't that what happened to Celis, except they ended up buying the brand back from Miller / Michigan Brewing Co.?
posted by mrbill at 3:27 PM on March 18


Irish pubs are the McDonalds of drinking.
posted by zeikka at 3:37 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Surely we're all thinking of Starbucks after reading that article, right?
posted by gurple

You all know Starbucks is opening bars and/or redesigning some of their outlets to be open after the usual coffee hours as bars, correct?

As long as my pre-pay cards work there, I'm all set.
posted by Dreidl at 3:52 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


"American" "diners" with Americana memorabilia

I felt like to had to have one mediocre meal at the Captain America Bar And Grill in Cork as part of a cultural penance or something.
posted by The Whelk at 3:58 PM on March 18


There's a supposedly Irish pub in my hometown that had, last time I was there, "Black & Tan Tuna" on the menu. Now that could have just been unfortunate naming (although I see "Black and Tan Battered Onion Rings" on the menu of another "Irish" bar) but it kind of put the boots to any vague pretense of authenticity the place might have had.
posted by Grimgrin at 3:59 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Based on this very article, Ms. jason6 and I started to use "Irish-Pub-in-a-box" to refer to these very places.

Step one: Put a pub in a box
Step two: Ship the pub in that box
Step three: Sell beer to Yanks from the box
And that's the way you do it
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:59 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


( also reading this thread has gotten the Cranberries' Linger stuck in my head and now I'm going to kill you all.)
posted by The Whelk at 4:00 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


"Black & Tan Tuna" on the menu

Jaysus.
posted by billiebee at 4:03 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I have it on good authority (i.e. some guy I used to know said so) that a not-so-insignificant percentage of the "Irish" people tending bar in "Irish" pubs -- particularly in New York and Boston -- aren't St. Paddy's Irish so much as St. John's Irish.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:10 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: some guy I used to know said so.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:07 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I've never heard Bud called "aspirational" - its what the boys drank when we were 15 because they'd seen it in films and so it must be cool.

This is a reasonably accurate definition of aspirational.

Misha

I don't know to what extent he may include eastern European ancestry in his heritage, but he did live in Prague or points east for a decade or so, which might explain the moniker.
posted by mwhybark at 5:38 PM on March 18


with the exception of the foreign extra stout, the guinness i drink in america is brewed by labatt's in canada

oh, yeah, it's imported, alright

but what i would really, really like to complain about is that the bass ale i used to drink came from england and now it comes from canada and it just doesn't fucking taste the same - i was shocked as hell when i drank it and looked at the bottle

oh and i saw a bottle of murphy's this year and it said it was brewed in edinburgh

i think o'hara's is still brewed in ireland

great lakes conway's irish ale is brewed in cleveland and that's close enough for me - killian's can just go to hell
posted by pyramid termite at 6:07 PM on March 18


This is a reasonably accurate definition of aspirational.

Apologies. I guess I meant I've never heard an adult describe it as aspirational. Personally, at 15 we all just aspired to drink full stop, so in that sense the dusty half-empty bottle of cooking sherry at the back of my Mum's cupboard was also aspirational.
posted by billiebee at 6:09 PM on March 18


These used (still?) to be called "Irish theme pubs" in England and be regarded as an outright joke. There were plenty enough pubs owned and frequented by actual Irish-born people that if you wanted something "authentic"--that slippery word--you could get it rather easily. In truth though, the most authentic Irish experience going was the "Irish Social Club" which had an utterly drab 1950s or 60s decor and was often attached to a church. Definitely not the kind of thing that would sell in Hong Kong and Dubai.
posted by Thing at 6:25 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Guinness is to Stout as Budweiser is to Budějovice and Plzen and the countless actually good pilsener beermarkers out there that are all sighing a sigh of relief that Bud stopped marketing themselves as "fine, pilsener beer" years ago. There are so many better stouts made in the US, and I highly doubt the supply chain and logistics have anything to do with that.
posted by lordaych at 6:46 PM on March 18


Killian's is made in Golden, CO (and probably all over I guess now) by "MolsonCoors" (WTF, Coors, WTFFF FFS, they are fuckers at heart down the bloodline I suppose) and I used to like it because it was what, 6-6.5% and cheap near Golden. Then one day I decided it tasted like blood, too much blood, too much iron and ass, and moved on. Try one warm to really bring out the barf-urge.

There's a pub in the "Highlands of Denver" called "Patrick Carroll's" and I'd love to find out if they're part of this Pub Cartel or whatever ominous term you might employ, but I'm too lazy to Google it so I'll have to go there eventually. And what of Fado's and DeLaney's downtown...definitely Fado's.
posted by lordaych at 6:50 PM on March 18


In America, you know you're in an honest-to-god Irish pub if it's full of Irish immigrants and their families, including children well under the legal drinking age (Hidden Shamrock in Chicago in the late 80s, I'm looking fondly at you while I say this.)
posted by davejay at 7:12 PM on March 18


Killian's is made in Golden, CO (and probably all over I guess now) by "MolsonCoors" (WTF, Coors, WTFFF FFS, they are fuckers at heart down the bloodline I suppose)

MolsonCoors also brews Bass, pyramid termite, (among other things) -- though, confusingly, the brand is owned by the other beer company.

"Imported beer" is just international conglomerates all the way down. Sigh.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:16 PM on March 18


with the exception of the foreign extra stout, the guinness i drink in america is brewed by labatt's in canada

And it's an abomination, even in Canada.
posted by sneebler at 7:33 PM on March 18


The same weekend that El Spousetastico and I moved into our place here in Seattle, a faux-Irish looking place around the corner was having its grand opening. The bar had moved into a spot vacated by a much-loved drag club, and the local population, in general, was Not Amused. We ended up going in the following weekend, because we had a few members if our writing group over to see the new place, but weren't sufficiently unpacked to feed them anything. The place was deserted-- and brilliant.

They had curry fries to weep for. The had the Saw Doctors (a loveable, infectious, and almost stupidly wholesome Irish radio pop band) on the jukebox. And when I started losing my mind about the jukebox, an older Irish woman, possibly the owner, came over and started geeking out with me. We played "N17" and "Share the Darkness" and "Hay Wrap," and then she gave us our curry fries for free. We were all jazzed, though we worried about whether the bar would make it.

A decade and a half later, its a neighborhood institution in its own right: but now, the jukebox has Pink instead of the Saw Doctors, they no longer serve those gorgeous curry fries, and the only things that are even kind of Irish about it are the name and the Guineas swag. And nobody believes me that it used to be heart-breakingly wonderful. But it's always bursting with people now. So it goes, I guess.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:34 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I discovered an authentic Irish pub or two in San Francisco in the early 2000s, when I still drank. One was on Haight St and had very little in the way of atmosphere or decorations, but it was chock full of Irish people, including the owner and staff (the owner became my best friend and kicked me out in the same night). The other was a nondescript Irish-styled pub somewhere on the edge of SOMA, mostly meaning Sinn Fein posters behind the bar, and all Irish staffed as well as most of the patrons, as far as I could tell. That place had a pretty dark vibe and felt to be pretty serious about their politics, so most people not from Ireland could stop by and drink, though they would always be outsiders. I liked both, but my drinking in those days was bad enough, and places like that only made it worse, where drinking to oblivion was the point, not an unfortunate and occasional side effect (which did sour any friendships established within, sooner or later). But they were by far the best drinking establishments I frequented in the SF Bay.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:32 PM on March 18


Yeah, I don't know how authentic O'Flaherty's was (Danny spent a LOT of time pushing cruises, long-distance calling cards, and whatnot back in the day), but I had a lot of fun drinking and listening to music there for several years. The pubs-in-a-box are kind of annoying because they're completely fabricated, the Disney comparison being, but at the end of the day a lot of people enjoy the time they spend there with their friends. I never spent much time trying to determine if my experience at O'Flaherty's was actually representative of a pub in Ireland, and I suspect that the same is true of a lot of other people. It was authentic enough, I guess, for my purposes, and didn't seem to really appeal to tourists that much. I'll always miss it because of the time in my life it represents.

But the best beer I ever had in my life was at the brewery around the corner from the Mendel Museum in Brno.
posted by wintermind at 8:37 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


There's been an Irish pub in pretty much every single place I've been in Asia (including dozens in Tokyo alone), but strangely, none in Guam. I mean, there was a bar, it had Guiness (in bottles), and had a vaguely Irish name. Oddest thing: Guam doesn't 'do' St. Patrick's Day. I was so, so excited when I saw the decorations on the door of a McDonalds, thinking I would have a shamrock shake for the first time in years (nostalgia, I know. I know they're awful, still...). The nice people behind the counter had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.

Mrs. Ghidorah and I went out that night, hoping to celebrate/get drunk, and there was just nothing. No specials in bars, no one wearing any kind of green. Having since been to downtown Chicago on St. Patrick's (roughly three hours after getting off of a plane from Japan), I think Guam might have the right idea.

If, by some chance, you are in Tokyo, and you seek a good stout, there are many, many good Japanese micro breweries. I would heartily recommend Minoh Beer's Stout, Baird Beer's Shimaguni Stout, Swanlake's Stout, and Hitachino Nest Beer's Espresso Stout. All good, all better than Guiness.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:00 PM on March 18


When driving from Dublin to Cork we, quite by accident, stopped in a town that's somewhat well known for having the "most atmospheric pub in Ireland.". I knew we where in good hands when I saw the tea mugs for regulars and dry goods for sale on the shelf, but hadn't realized that the combination of beer and a working pot belly stove nearby is one of the most potent soporific ever designed.
posted by The Whelk at 6:50 AM on March 19


I have it on good authority (i.e. some guy I used to know said so) that a not-so-insignificant percentage of the "Irish" people tending bar in "Irish" pubs -- particularly in New York and Boston -- aren't St. Paddy's Irish so much as St. John's Irish.

Some people from Newfoundland can even "pass" as Irish in Ireland, believe it or not. Totally weird but true - so I'm not surprised that a few New Englanders have been fooled.


Come to think of it, we must be sitting on a gold mine of cultural capital. Quick by's, get on the boat, we're all moving to the States to open mass market box-pubs!
posted by gohabsgo at 10:38 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


( also reading this thread has gotten the Cranberries' Linger stuck in my head and now I'm going to kill you all.)
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 AM on March 19 [3 favorites +] [!]


It's in your heeeeeaaeaaaaaaad
in your heeeeeaaeaaaad
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:15 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]


AND WHEN I STAB YOU WITH A ICEPICK I SHALL BE SINGING ZOOOOOMBIE ZOOOOOOMBIE ZOOOMBEEEBEEEBEEBEE
posted by The Whelk at 5:18 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Regarding bagpipes, I remember seeing Braveheart and being scandalised when a scene with some guy playing Highland pipes in silhouette was accompanied by the completely different sound of uillean pipes (Spillane, I think).
posted by salix at 12:24 AM on March 25


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