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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry - Irish Drink

Galway: Eat, Drink and Be Merry was to be about the pubs of Galway, but you will notice the content is about the pub experience, and not my favorite pubs. I felt I needed to talk about the experience of visiting a pub in Ireland before talking about my favorites, and it's too much to include both the pub experience and my favorite pubs. As in all things Irish, pubs are far from being made from the same mold, and vary significantly; but I’ll discuss some things that are consistent. If you live in Ireland, or have been to Ireland, and you see something I've missed; then send a comment.

Pubs are effectively an extension of the Irish sitting room (living room), Many Irishmen do not drink at home, but will drink … sometimes a lot… at a Pub. In particular, if you are sitting at the bar; expect conversation or Craic. It is almost considered rude to not have a cursory participation in the bar banter. This extends to the tables and booths. If the pub is crowded, you should expect to share your table and/or chairs. Again, it's almost considered rude to not offer your table or stools. You’re on vacation, have fun, and get to know some people in Ireland; even if they are fellow tourists.

Living Room Seating for the Musicians

Sitting Room Type Seating at one of my "Favorites"

Most Pubs do not have wait staff (unless they have food), so you will order your drinks at the bar. If you order a round of Guinness and you are not sitting at the bar, you will want to return to your seat, as a Guinness pour takes awhile, and they can back up at the tap. The bartender(-ess) will give you a nod when the Guinness is ready. Then you can pay for the drinks and bring them to the table. This is Ireland, you are on holiday (vacation), relax!! The bartender will take care of you.

You will mostly be ordering Beer, Hard Cider, Wine, Hard Liquor, and/or mixers. Almost all Pubs have taps for Guinness, Smithwick’s, Heineken, Carlsberg and Coor’s Light. I was very disappointed that Coor’s Light has taken over so much of the Irish market, but the Irish give it the respect it deserves ….. and mostly drink it over ice. Most pubs have additional taps with additional European, American, and Asian beers. You will order a pint or a glass. If you say nothing (I’ll have a Guinness), you will get a pint. A glass is a half pint.

A Pint and a Glass

Craft brewing has come to Ireland and each region has its own craft beers that are usually not as bitter as the American brews. Not sure about the Craft Brew on tap? Then ask for a taste …. If you are really into Craft Beers, here is a site that is dedicated to Irish Craft Beers.

Most pubs also have at least one tap for a hard cider. Usually the one cider tap is Bulmers (called Magners outside of Ireland). If you’re not a beer drinker, you may want to try the hard ciders. Many of the pubs have additional hard ciders on tap or in bottles, including pear ciders, and apple ciders with various other fruits. Hard Ciders are served over ice or neat. Cider on tap also comes in pints and half-pints. Cider in bottles comes in pints and "long necks", a 12 oz. bottle.

Wine in a local pub can be iffy. I’ve seen a bartender take a small single serving wine bottle from a side shelf behind the bar, and blow off the dust before serving the wine …. In the larger towns like Galway, you should be OK, but wine is expensive compared to beer and cider. A Guinness will be 4 to 4.5 Euros. A glass of wine will likely be 6 Euros or more … and it will possibly be a cheap Chilean wine.

You will see a wide variety of hard liquors, but not necessarily a wide selection of a particular spirit …. Obviously there will be a wide selection of Irish whiskey, and some pubs will have a very wide selection up and down the price range. Mixers are ordered separately and served separately. If you want a gin and tonic then you will get a shot of gin over ice and a bottle of tonic. The house brand of gin will be about