There are holidays for giving gifts, giving thanks, holidays for love, and then there is St. Patrick’s Day. For many imbibers, March 17 means incapacitating doses of cheap, green beer, jostling through giant crowds for a poorly poured Guinness at eight in the morning, novelty shots, jumbo-sized shamrocks and shrunken “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t–shirts. For an on-duty bartender, however, March 17 means a nightmare of unmatched proportions.
We asked a few notable bartenders to share their war stories from St. Patrick’s Day shifts of yore.
Justin Gerardy, Bar Manager
One of the main reasons why it’s important to manage the bar that you work in is so you don’t have to work St. Patrick’s Day. It is almost always a bit of a nightmare. I’ve never worked in a bar that produced green beers or even did a special on Irish whiskey for the night, but someone always rolls in and makes an ass of himself (gender carefully chosen). One of the years that I actually had to work it, a guy came in, jacked up on steroids, alcohol, and tiger blood, wearing bead necklaces and a tight green shirt. His buddy ordered Irish car bombs while he took a phone call. I politely informed them that we didn’t do bombs, and I’d need to see some identification before we go much further. Buddy produced an ID, but the ‘roid-monster ignored me until his buddy got his attention. Turns out it had just expired. I told him I couldn’t serve him as a result, and he flipped. He told me to “Come over here and say it to my face!” Then he called me every gay slur in the book and asked my where my bouncer was. The bar just so happened to be occupied by six or eight very wonderful long-term patrons who happened to be gay men. He wasn’t there much longer.
That’s the last time I worked a St. Patty’s Day, and life has been grand ever since.
Vessel (reopening soon)
Jim Romdall, Bartender-Owner
My craziest St. Paddy’s was when I was working at a college bar about 10 years ago. It was a slower night of the week, and we usually didn’t get hit too hard for St. Patrick’s Day since we were off of the main college strip, but we staffed a couple extra people in preparation just in case. We were super slow by 10pm, so I sent everyone home except for myself and a server, not thinking we were going to get crazy. Apparently all the bars on The Ave were so packed that a traveling horde of drunk college students had formed from the overflow. At 11 the horde found me and 150–ish people poured through my door. I vaguely remember throwing empty kegs across the walk-in trying to reach the buried full keg of Guinness, my server crying, and me saying, “order something simpler!” several times when someone wanted something that took more than 10 seconds to make. In the end I had lots of money and a very sticky bar.
Matt’s in the Market
Robbie McGrath, Bartender
Luckily being a 37–year veteran, and Irish I have not worked a St. Patrick’s eve in years. Thank God.
Travis Stanley-Jones, Bartender-Owner
We get a huge kick out of customers who specifically want tables facing the front door so they can watch the “riff raff” who have been to two to three other Irish pubs storm in the front door expecting loud music, Jameson girls, and Irish car bombs…it’s as if they hit a glass wall on their second step, they look at their buddies in that buzzed, confused state and bumble away muttering to themselves. I can think of one couple who will re–tell these stories to me when I bartend for the next few months.