When traveling in Europe, I think half the thrill is experiencing good food and good drink with good friends. Over the years, I’ve developed this uncanny knack for searching out and finding cool little places to eat and drink. My rule is to always go for the local stuff. To do that you’ve often got to get out of your comfort zone, venture sometimes into the unknown, and even be willing to accept embarrassment or ridicule… but the pay-off is most always worth the effort.
IRELAND – When I think of Ireland my mind conjures up visions of rolling hills, pristine mountains, forty shades for green, pub musicians, good craic, hearty food, and good drinking. It’s no secret that the Irish know how to have a good time. It’s in their blood, part of their culture, and a part of their heritage.
There are basically two kinds of drinks in Ireland: beer or Irish Whiskey. Yes, now-a-days with their new-found wealth you’ll find lots of wine and even mixed drinks like we have back home, but the staple of the country has and will always be beer or Irish whiskey.
I use the term beer rather loosely when referring to this brew because in Ireland, one would never just go up to a bar and order a “beer.” You’ve got to be more specific and specify the brand name. Really none of it is classified as beer anyway. Usually you’ll have a choice of a stout like Guiness or Murphey’s, or an ale like Swithwick’s or Kilkenny. There are other local ales and stouts spread throughout Ireland, but the four mentioned about seem to abound nationwide.
To a connoisseur, Irish Whiskey differs greatly from Scotch or Bourborn. It is most often triple distilled giving it a smooth and pleasant glide down to your belly. I was recently in an Irish pub with some friends who wanted to do “girlie shots” like we have back home. No such thing was to be found so their choice was Jameson’s or Bushmill’s (both Irish Whiskey). I think they’ll agree it did the job and warmed ’em up as it was going down.
Some of the most common Irish Whiskies are: Jamesons, Powers, Paddy, Midleton, Old Bushmills, Black Bush, 1608, and Bushmills 10, 12, 16, and 21-year-old single malts. All have certain distilling characteristics that give them a unique taste all their own.
So there you have it, all you really need to know about pub drinking in Ireland. I’ve got a tour I’m putting together for June 2010 which I’m calling the “Thirsty Traveler’s” Tour. It’s going to hit several “cultural pockets” of Europe where we’ll focus on eating and drinking well. Stay tuned for details.
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