Sometimes a visit to the pub is more than that. It’s a lesson in friendship, craftsmanship, and sincerity.
A writer friend of mine was in town. I knew from her tweets that she was a whiskey fan, so I called my buddy Jason, another whiskey connoisseur, and asked for some advice. “Take her to a pub,” he said. “What does she like to drink?”
“She mentions Jameson a lot.”
“Well she has good taste in whiskey, even if she has terrible taste in friends,” Jason said. “Take her to an Irish pub. There’s De Vere’s downtown and 36 Handles out my way. You can’t go wrong with either.”
We parked on the far side of Capitol Park and walked past the war memorials and the rose garden, now dormant. By St. Patrick’s Day new blossoms will bulge from the bare stems, and new lovers will hold hands beneath the garden’s trellis, but for now the winter chill still drifted through the trees.
De Vere’s was classy but comfortable: Dark wood, tile floors, chandeliers. Even at 5:30 there wasn’t a seat to be had. Groups of friends and coworkers crowded around tables and hunched over the bar, laughing, talking, telling lies and stories.
A narrow hallway led to a dark back room with a long, beautiful bar stocked with every imaginable spirit. A soccer game, or as we call it in the US, a soccer game, blared from a flat screen mounted opposite the bar. Beneath the TV sat another group of friends drinking, laughing, and occasionally whooping at the game.
Donna and I sat at a small table shoved against the wall. “Look at this,” Donna laughed, and she held up a paper coaster advertising cheap domestic beer. “Just what I want: generic beer from a vat the size of Rhode Island.”
“Yeah, but look back there,” I said, and pointed to the Jameson poster hanging next to the television. Our waitress walked up right at that moment, so I left my pointing finger hanging out there and tacked on a “two of those, please.”
“Why did you do that?” Donna asked.
“What do you mean? I thought you liked Jameson.”
“I do, but look at the menu. They have all these other options….” This is the benefit of going out with a whiskey pro.
She asked for my writing advice and I said, “Just lay it down. Be honest. Maintain your integrity. People can smell a hustle.”
The more we talked the more clear our common ground became: quality, craftsmanship, sincerity. Why in the world would you drink some watery domestic beer when something named “Jameson Black Barrel” appears on the same menu?
The waitress returned with our drinks. “Hey, can I ask you something?” I said.
“What’s this place like on St. Patty’s Day?”
“Oh my God,” she said. “Last year we closed the whole block and had a parade – pipes and drums, the whole bit.”
“Does it get crowded?”
“You won’t even be able to find a place to stand,” she said. “But I love it. Everybody’s so happy, and it’s more of a pub scene. Everybody’s mingling and having a good time.”
“So do you have to wear green plastic derbies and serve green beer and all that junk?” I said.
“No, nothing like that,” she laughed.
“No green beer? What’s your big seller on St. Patty’s Day then?” I asked.
“You’re drinking it,” she said.
“That sounds insanely busy. What’s your favorite part?”
“That it’s insanely busy. It’s just really fun here on St. Patty’s Day. It’s like the whole neighborhood gets into it,” she said.
Quality. Craftsmanship. Friends. Community. I couldn’t ask for a better night out at the pub.
–photo courtesy of author