Friday, March 19, 2010

A fizzlin' St Pat's

Nobody seemed to be doing anything much for St Patrick's Day this year.

Ginkgo - which put on rather a fine party with music last year - could not be bothered to do likewise this year. Salud had failed to secure an 'Irish' band for the evening, and so drew only a relatively thin crowd. (The new Des McGarry-fronted Celtic band, Blackwater, bizarrely couldn't get a gig this night! However, they will be playing at Paddy O'Shea's tonight.)

Amongst the city's 'Irish' bars..... well, the tatty but surprisingly fun Chinese Irish bar Paddy Field's died a long time ago. Durty Nellie's might as well have done (it seems even the IELTS examiner crowd has deserted it, because, although superior to O'Shea's in most ways, it perversely refuses to run a 'happy hour'); if it was doing anything special for Paddy's night this year, it had entirely failed to advertise the fact. Danger Doyle's, the worst pub in Beijing even when its prices were vaguely competitive, has doubled or more-than-doubled the price of most of its drinks in its latest management shake-up (the recent lame concession of offering "half price" drinks throughout March is more irritating than anything else: hmm, so now your prices are merely expensive rather than absolutely f***ing stupid?!). Promising newcomer The Irish Volunteer is just too darned far out of the centre. Unpromising newcomer Mollie Malone's was, I gather, promoting some kind of event, but I doubt if anyone went; it is a charmless and expensive hotel bar with a somewhat half-hearted 'Irish theme'. That left the vile Paddy O'Shea's as the sole 'Irish' destination for the night; I gather it got so crowded that it was impossible to get served; I am not sorry I passed it over.

That left us with the 'happy hour' Guinness at The Den, and even that disappointed this year. The black velvet was not slipping down as quickly and easily as it usually does, and after three or four my tummy was feeling perturbed. A companion suggested that the blame lay with the rather hasty pours we were suffering as the place started getting busy, but I fear it was something rather more insidious than that - very unclean pipes, or some kind of contamination in the barrel itself. Not nice.

We transferred to 12 Square Metres - also rather quiet this night. Relief barman Big Nige had been promising when I was in on Monday that he would download some Pogues and surreptitiously infiltrate it into JK's resolutely Irish-free playlist - but it had slipped his mind. We had to make do with tracking down the scant allocation of U2, The Cranberries and Van Morrison on their i-Tunes selection. We were surprised and disheartened to find no Irish music at Salud. And Amilal likewise disappointed: the estimable Alus has just about everything in his music collection except Irish (The Weeble had been promising to burn a CD for him to rectify this omission, but discovered late in the day that he didn't have any blank CDs left).

Oh well - much drinking and some good company in familiar, friendly bars: not such a bad night. Just not a very Irish one.


The British Cowboy said...

I've been very drunk in Durty Nellie's (the original) the night before E&S's wedding.

Generally I am not a fan of Paddy's Day. This year was even worse as (a) it was on a Wednesday, which is never a good drinking day; and (b) I had to pick a friend up from the airport (Dulles too). So she wanted to grab a beer after we got back, and it was almost 11 by the time we got to the bar. Lots of drunk amateurs stumbling. Fortunately no fucking green beer.

Froog said...

I can see how it might be pretty hellish in the US of A. Most of my American buddies here have expressed similar scepticism.

My memories of St Pat's are of tremendous evenings in proper Irish bars in the UK, like the Bully and the Black Swan. Or of going to see the Pogues in Shepherd's Bush or some Irish club in Birmingham. Or of being stranded in Cheltenham on the last day of the Festival and drinking with a lot of Micks who'd lost their shirts on the last race or two. Or just drinking a lot of Guinness in Oxford somewhere with The Bookseller.

Green beer sounds terminally naff, but I have never seen such a thing. For me, Paddy's Day is a thing of joy.