Fake Irish bars are a plague upon the Earth. You’ll find them across America, mainland Europe and even back in the Emerald Isle itself, often decked out by the Irish Pub Company in wood and stone and littered with fake props and grayscale stock images of Irish immigrants. These are not the sorts of places you want to go for an authentic pint of Guinness or to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
To help you spot a counterfeit Irish bar immediately, we asked three (real) Irish bartenders for their tips on spotting a phony pub:
“When you walk into an Irish bar and the barman says, ‘Top o’ d’ marnin’ te yeh!’”
Dave Crowe, The Living Room, Dublin
Fake accents are a pretty clear indicator that you’re in the wrong place. Irish bartenders do not say, “Top o’ d’ marnin’ te yeh!” They might say, “Hi!” or “How’s it going?” or “Have a seat,” or any other number of greetings that bartenders actually say in real life and not in exagerated caricature land.
“Unless they serve real Irish whiskey and Guinness right, they aren’t a real Irish bar.”
Marcus (Last Name Withheld), The Blackbird, Ballycotton
Irish whiskey does, in fact, extend beyond Jameson. A true Irish bar will give drinkers a few options, even if the variety goes only as far as Redbreast and Bushmills. As for Guinness, authenticity is all in the pour. How a bar serves its Guinness—whether they dump it whole hog from a can, or spend the time and effort to pull a proper pint—can make a Guinness taste like heaven or like bitter swill.
“If they’re not in Ireland, they’re not a real Irish pub.”
Colin Hashem, L. Mulligan Grocer, Dublin
This might seem like a high bar to reach, but it speaks to the importance of actually visiting Ireland at least once in your life. The Guinness is fresher, the accents are real, the sense of Irish hospitality is justified and honest, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find yourself in a true Irish pub.