The Selection Offered & What You Order
There will be Guinness, Harp, and several of the standard shit American beers you've come to love. There will also be a decently stocked bar with Absolut Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and at least one good scotch.
Do not order the Guinness unless you're a 65-year-old retiree from the mother country who plans on doing nothing but drinking five of them over the course of seven hours. If they're done right, they're thick, meaty works of art that make no sense for a night of getting drunk. Order what's on tap, or any liquor straight or on the rocks. Don't get fancy. I once saw a frat boy order a cranberry and vodka in an Irish pub. The bartender did a quick scan of the bar to make sure he wasn't on an errand for his girlfriend who's suffering from a yeast infection before suppressing a laugh and fetching his order. Did the bartender and I share a politically incorrect laugh at his expense when he left? We did!
I recently went drinking in a Irish pub with the Gentleman Bastard Brendan McGinley, who ignored my advice about not pounding Guinness and consequently ended up looking like a pompous twat. In his defense, however, his shirt appears to fit his body and is not inexplicably shiny.
There's a reason only about nine people live in all of Ireland. The majority of the country's inhabitants seem to have left the home country to work in New York City bars. (Yes, I'm basing these experiences on New York. Sorry, I didn't travel the world to do a comprehensive case study. If you'd like to fund such research, let me know.)
I'm not saying that all the Irish are the same, but all the Irish use exactly one personality in the performance of their bartending duties. And why not? It's the quintessential bartender demeanor. Every Irish bartender I've met has excelled in exhibiting courteousness without being subservient. Then they take that and mix it with a healthy dose of world-weary cynicism. You will feel like you know the Irish bartender instantly, and yet if you come back 40 times, you will never get to know him any better. A touch beyond friendly and always a yard short of familiar. I went to the same pub all the time for years, and every single time I bumped into the bartender at the urinal, he said the same thing: "Jews piss in the alley with the blacks and queers." Actually no, he said, "I used to think you buy beer, but now I know you only rent it." Every single time.