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12 essential ingredients for the perfect Irish pub

Slowly add pints, and stir gently.

Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

WHAT MAKES THE perfect Irish pub? What separates from the standards from the standouts?

Simple: a mix of the following 12 essential ingredients.

1. At least one old guy who has his own stool and newspaper

Source: nicksarebi

You can sit in his seat, but if he comes in you *will* be politely asked to move. These are the rules and everyone accepts them.

2. A real, actual snug

Source: garryknight

Not just something they call a snug. It has to be its own area, invisible to the rest of the bar, so that when you’re in there you feel like you’re in an oasis of calm where all that exists aredrinks and crisps. In an ideal world it would also have its own stove.

3. Friendly-but-not-too-friendly barmen

Source: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland!

What you want: lightning-quick service, a slight grin while handing over the drinks, a near-telepathic recollection of orders for ‘Same again?’ purposes.

What you don’t want: any kind of personal interaction beyond the odd quip about the weather/game/other impersonal topic; any inquisitive questions of any kind. This isn’t America, pal!

4. A fire

Source: Harbour Bar Bray

Goes without saying. Warm, cosy, burning quietly away no matter what the time of year.

5. Areas of near-total darkness

Seriously. If you can find a contact lens on the floor, you’re in the wrong place.

This is essential because another key feature of all great Irish pubs is a slight air of rattiness. Keeping everything in constant twilight ensures that this looks romantic rather than, well, just ratty.

6. At least one wall plastered with local GAA/community raffle announcements

Source: RTÉ Republic of Comedy via YouTube

Coming up next Sunday, the Great Kilkee Tractor Rally of 2011. Etc.

7. People you love, but whom you would never tell you love

Source: Pretty/Ugly Design

You might look forward to spending time with them more than anything else in the world. A good table with a cold one and warm conversation might be the highlight of your week. But would you ever tell them this? Good God, no.

See above: this isn’t America!

8. Slightly uncomfortable bar stools

Source: MattHurst

Ancient cushions, no backs, a ledge to put your feet on. They should always be slightly uncomfortable when sat on for long periods. Possibly because they are permanently moulded to the shape of a long-gone regular’s generous buttocks.

9. A small but perfect selection of snacks

Source: leo_leibovici

Maybe three different things in total, to consist exclusively of crisps/nuts/either bacon or (if you’re feeling bold) scampi fries. And all on display, hanging from those cards on the wall that only exist in pubs.

Also FYI: every single right-thinking person in the history of time prefers dry roasted to salted peanuts.

10. … whichis occasionally, very occasionally, supplemented by an unexpected plate of triangle sandwiches

Source: gewoonbob

Brought out nonchalantly, but with obvious pride, by the barman from a mysterious and never-seen kitchen in the back.

Cocktail sausages are also acceptable.

11. Lovingly tended taps/optics/whatever

Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

The bar might look like it was last wiped down during the Kennedy administration, but the drinks that emerge from it should be as fresh, cold and clean as a mountain spring. If that mountain spring was also made of booze.

12. And a very cold toilet

Source: Silly Little Man

For reasons we don’t quite understand, it is essential that an Irish pub’s toilet be markedly colder than the rest of the building. Ideally it should feel like the area was outside until very recently, and has perhaps been only provisionally roofed and doused in disinfectant.

This makes the return to the pub’s warm fug all the more welcoming.

More: 18 of the greatest Irish pubs that tourists (mostly) don’t know about>

More: 19 of Ireland’s most spectacular pubs to drink pints with a view>

About the author:

Michael Freeman

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