Monday, May 10, 2010

Black is Beautiful

The first drink I ever ordered in a bar was at Durty Nelly's in County Clare, Ireland.

I was eighteen years old and I was traveling with my good friend who was seventeen. We had both just graduated from high school and decided that a trip to Ireland was a great way to celebrate.

Our first hostess on our journey was my third cousin-in-law who lived in a little village in County Clare. After she picked us up at the airport and fed us dinner at her house she encouraged us to walk just up the road to the pub.

Now for those of you who don't speak Irish, "just up the road" means anywhere from one to seven miles. In this case Durty Nelly's was about a three mile walk.

By the time we got there we were pretty thirsty but no less nervous about ordering a drink like a real grown-up. In the U.S. the drinking age is 21 and unless you had a fake id. or a beard (we had neither) you couldn't get served in a bar. This is not to say we had never had an alcoholic beverage before or gotten someone who did have a beard to buy us a drink. We just had never done it ourselves.

We spent the first five minutes standing near the door of the crowded pub trying not to look conspicuous. Picture Daria and Jane Lane go to Ireland. We finally made our way to the bar and the bottle.

Lame, I know.

We went outside and drank our luke-warm beers that tasted like they had been delivered by donkey cart from Germany two years ago. But now we had liquid courage and skunked beer aftertaste, so we went back to the bar and ordered, two pints of Guinness.

It's a good thing we were feeling brave because we had to stand there for about five minutes waiting for our pints. We had our first lesson: a good pour takes time. By the time we left Ireland, two weeks and several pubs later we were experts.

That expertise would have to be suppressed until the day we were old enough to have id. and cash in our pockets. The next trick was to find an Irish pub that served Guinness by the pint.

Nowadays people are discovering Guinness, along with micro-brew stouts and Smithwicks at most places that have more than two taps. Some of us learned early though.