Drunk of the Week
As a member of a very Irish and Catholic family, I look forward to St. Patrick's Day as much as I do Christmas. Since I first convinced someone to buy me beer, I've tied one on every March 17. In the beginning, I thought that drinking green beer was a requisite St. Paddy's Day activity, but the green coloring just made vomiting more interesting later that night and induced near-fatal gastrointestinal dysfunction for the following week. Once I reached maturity -- or at least was earning a regular salary -- I discovered true Irish joy in the form of Guinness. Although gastrointestinal dysfunction still resulted, it was a much cleaner drunk with much better-tasting beer. In Minnesota, finding a place with draft Guinness was tough, but it's easy in Denver, since every bar here installed a tap once Cherry Creek people decided that Guinness was cool (meaning low-carb).
In this country, restaurateurs seem to think they can create a traditional Irish pub simply by giving their bar a fitting name, installing dark paneling, including fish and chips on the menu, and making sure that Guinness is on tap. Of course, tradition here in the States has also resulted in baseball being played indoors, so our judgment is a little marginal. Some establishments think that by adding extra letters to their signs in an old (or olde) English style, they can make a place more authentic. On this matter, I subscribe to the notion of my journalistic hero, Dave Barry, who believes every extra letter should be taxed at a rate of $250,000 per letter -- and more than three extra letters will result in summary execution.
So although I trust my barberess, Heather B., I was a little concerned when she recommended I try the Auld Dubliner (2796 South Broadway), an Englewood joint recently opened by the folks who brought the Squealin' Pig to Cherry Creek. To check out this addition to the scene, I enlisted the help of the Latin Representative, the Head of Pathologic Drinking and the new Head of Instant Drunks. (We all know a guy who goes from stone-cold sober to knee-walking drunk in record time -- with this guy, it's like someone flips a switch to "on" and he's instantaneously hammered.) And as we walked in, I worried that our pre-lubricated and not-so-Irish group would be about as popular as the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The Auld Dubliner is very small, and also very traditional, with patrons ranging from younger folks to people actually native to the Green Isle -- or at least with a lifelong dream of visiting the homeland. (You can tell someone's a true Irishman when he can't wait to make a pilgrimage to his Mecca -- the Guinness brewery.) But we were greeted warmly, taken to a cozy table and, before long, even the Latin Representative was speaking with a hint of a brogue.
Guinness is foremost on the drink menu, of course. Smithwick's, another traditional Irish beer that has been brewed in Kilkenny since 1710, is also offered. It's only been available in this country for about a year, and I haven't found any other place in Denver that serves it. To my taste, only John Courage Amber surpasses Smithwick's -- but then, I am a professional drinker who may just buy some guy's liver on eBay. There are options for the Irish whiskey drinker as well, but we didn't partake, because I didn't want to have to kill myself the next morning. The food menu furthered the illusion that we'd stepped into the cast of Waking Ned Devine. The Guinness stew was fantastic; the fish and chips matched any in town. Our favorite item, though, was the Clucker, a chicken sandwich whose name was really fun to say if you happened to be the Head of Instant Drunks, who said it at least twenty times in a five-second span when ordering.
On March 17, the Auld Dubliner celebrates its patron saint with live music by roving minstrels playing for tips and Guinness. Irish step-dancing will also be featured, so once you've had enough beer to think that Michael Flatley is cool, you can get up on a table and do a jig until you fall off and break your leg. All in all, the Institute guarantees you'll have a grande auld tyme.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.