It’s a distinctive name for a pub in Dublin – not a surname in the possessive case or an adjectival definite article (e.g. The Hairy Lemon), but a possessive case first name. Peter’s pub: owned by three generations of Peters spanning many, boozy moons. The name suggests gentlemanly, chivalrous, more refined than the noisier establishments off Grafton Street where patrons spill out onto the pavements in their droves on warm evenings or Fridays. It’s also got history on its side: a licensed establishment for over 200 years.
Patrons can judge for themselves how this pub compares in the refinement stakes, but on these cold winter nights its cosiness is indisputable. The size of this pub (and its snug) means it always feels busy, thus rewarding when you find a free table. The current winter warmer drinks menu, with drinks like Martell and Kahlua hot chocolates, compliment the mood. The food menu, sprinkled amongst the knee high tables, will also help with the thaw. If you’re only after a beer, there’s even the choice of warm cider.
It’s not the presence of old pub memorabilia on a beam above the room that makes a visit worthwhile, nor the tea lights and candles on window ledges by the half panelled, half cream-painted walls. It’s the presence of at least one barman from the Old School of Attentiveness.
There are two types of barman in Ireland. The passive type trundles through his shift, takes your order then prepares the pints and shorts in his inimitable, humdrum way; serves sandwiches, meals or exotic drinks with a look that suggests the task is on the fringe of his job spec. Sometimes he’ll remember your order, sometimes he won’t. As you chat to him his eye will wander towards the next customer loitering to order. When the drink you want is not available he doesn’t offer an alternative. And you’re not always assured you’ve been given the right change.
The attentive type, trained at the old school, notices you when you arrive. He smiles as you speak, nods approvingly at your order. ‘I’ll drop it down to you,’ he says, has a friendly word to both the patrons he knows and the patrons he identifies as ‘not from around here’. Food or drink, he’ll compliment your choices or help you decide if you’re unsure. He’ll remember your order as he suggests: ‘Same again?’
Amidst collecting empty glasses, ensuring the TV volume and channel are to everyone’s satisfaction, keeping the place tidy and the taps ready to pour more, he’ll saunter to your table to check ‘everything is alright’ and that you have enough relish. When you inquire about the taste of an exotic drink he’ll offer you a taster.
His demeanour will always be the same, on good days and bad. And if you are ‘from around here’ and drinking with those ‘not from around here’, and your companions tell you how impressed they are at the quality of Ireland’s barmen, you’ll find yourself very proud to be Irish.
At least one such barman works at Peter’s Pub. His teacher was the third Peter, who undoubtedly taught his son every part of the profession before handing over the trade to him several decades ago. Peter died in August 2017 but his legacy lives on.
Prices (08 February 2018)
Pint of Guinness: €5.60
Pint of lager: €6.20
Measure of whiskey: €5.40
1/4 bottle of wine: €6.80