“If you’ve got any kind of a heart, a soul, an appreciation for your fellow man or any kind of appreciation for the written word or simply a love of a perfectly poured beverage then there’s no way you can avoid loving this city.”
So were the words of celebrity chef, author and globetrotter Anthony Bourdain when he came to describe our own city on one of his many TV shows – The Layover. If you’ve never sat down and watched any of Bourdain’s travel shows let me tell you that I truly envy you, you get to discover someone with a contagious vigour for life. Travelling to well and lesser-known corners of the world, he at all times conducted himself with childlike curiosity, compassion and humility, all while exuding a sort of rock star sort of panache and rarely being seen without a bottle or glass too far from his hand.
The terrible reality about Anthony Bourdain is that he took his own life on the 8th of June 2018. His death was a terribly tragic event – a big news story in the media at the time given his fame and fortune.
But more seriously and importantly is the tragedy of how Anthony is yet another soul to succumb to the peril of an untreated mental health issue. So I’ll go no further before imploring anyone who is in that dark place or upon its periphery to please reach out to somebody that they can talk to or to contact any of the organisations below.
- Pieta House 1800 247247
- Aware 1800 804848
- Samaritans 116 123
I wanted to mark the first anniversary of Anto’s (yes I will be referring to him as Anto from here on out) passing by compiling the pubs that he visited (and mentioned) in the course of the Dublin episode of The Layover.
The Layover is a fantastic TV show created by The Travel Channel whereby one episode encompasses Anto on a short layover in a city taking in the best way to spend limited time there. It’s a fantastic format. I’m not affiliated with The Travel Channell and stake no claim in any of their content.
So at the beginning of the Dublin episode Anto describes Dublin as a city he knows and loves, it’s not a statement that I personally found any insincerity in but if I had, it would have certainly been charmed away after he poses himself the question ‘What does Ireland do better than any other nation on earth?’ and answers with one word – pubs!
So without further ado, let’s get into the pubs he visits.
The show starts with Anto professing his love for a pint of Guinness and alluding to the widely accepted adage that it’s a drink that tastes better in this country than anywhere else on earth, so it’s only fitting then that he should start the show on the premises that purveys the finest pint in the country- The Gravediggers. Any of you reading that follows our page on Instagram might know that we’ve been writing and rewriting our thoughts on The Gravediggers, or John Kavanagh’s to give it its proper name, for a number of years now (UPDATE: We finally wrote our piece on The Gravediggers). It’s still something we continue to chip away at because it’s just too difficult to conjure up the magic of this pub in words. Bourdain, however, manages to elicit the type of thing we’re going for in just a few words when he signs the guestbook – “Heaven looks just like this”.
Mentioned as worth a visit, though not visited by Anthony in the show himself, is The Cobblestone in Smithfield. A Dublin mecca for authentic trad, it’s a pub we love too. The pint is great and as of April 2019 is still under €5.
So the next act of the show presumably follows a healthy feed of pints in The Gravediggers the evening before. We find Anto and his drinking companion the worse for wear as they wander the abandoned early morning streets of Dublin. In search for the cure, they pass empty pubs as Paddy explains the concept of early houses to Anto. With him in full understanding that these are pubs placed close to markets and ports with special licences to open early, they head into one such pub – Slattery’s. While here they have a proper cure – a big dirty fry and a pint to wash it down – the proper way to do it. And ne’er a painkiller in sight.
Opting not to add to the fuel in the tank from the previous night, Anto heads off and fills his day with other activities away from those solely focussed around boozing. Once he’s thirsty again, he heads for the Palace and sets his sights on whiskey. Speaking to the barman, owner – Willie Ahearne, he’s recommended a nine year old Palace Bar branded single malt, single cask whiskey which he takes and chases with a pint. He presumably repeats this process as in the next scene, still in the bar, he declares himself to be drunk.
Next stop for Anto is The Long Hall. He arrives alone having been up to Ballsbridge for a bit of soakage and continues his round of a pint and a chaser. The whiskey, though not described, looks to be a Redbreast 12. Shortly afterward then he’s joined by a hipster restaurateur type named Joe who he had shared a meal with in a since-closed restaurant earlier on in the show. Joe then proceeds to put the entire country to high and holy mortification when he orders his usual drink – whiskey and diet coke. Even Anto picks up on this and pulls him up on how careful he had been to drink all of his whiskey in Ireland neat. Joe doesn’t take much heed of this.
Another of the pubs mentioned but not visited by Bourdain is Mulligan’s. A Dublin institution, this is a pub trading since 1782 and renowned to offer one of the best pints in the city centre. We’re quite fond of it ourselves and love the links that it has with all sorts of famous figures from Joyce to JFK.
So with last call having been made in The Long Hall, Anto and Joe head off to Hogan’s for a late jar. And Hogan’s is just the spot for a late jar. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever in my life been in Hogan’s before midnight. Joe may be a decent restauranteur, I’m not sure – but he’s certainly no master wordsmith when you consider his description of Hogan’s to Anto. Describing it to the best selling author as “one of the deadliest pubs in town” and “the go-to for cool and deadly”, you can’t help but wonder if he’d have done a better job if he stuck with pints instead of whiskey and mixers.
It’s at this point that the conversation turns to what local delicacy the lads will satiate their drunken hunger with at the end of the night and Anto, in this writer’s own opinion, seems to be looking for someone a little less pretentious than our buddy Joe.
Luckily he strikes gold and finds three pint-drinking hardchaws who immediately set about advising him on the merits of taco chips, a meal Joe describes as a “gross habit”. Explaining the meal’s similarity in appearance as it both enters and leaves the digestive system, the lads win Anto over and it’s on up the road to Roma II for a feed of chips.
Resigned to his fate, Joe joins in on the craic as Anto orders half the menu for everyone leaving the table full of enough brown paper to cover your school books for the entire of secondary school. He enjoys the spiceburger, and doesn’t mind the batterburger either. Curry chips, however, seem to perplex him to such a degree that he asks “The curry sauce, how did this happen?”
“It’s The Celtic Tiger that started it all” replies one of the lads to a cacophony of laughter.
The next morning Anto is hungover again and heads to Matt The Threshers on Pembroke St. for the cure – a pint and some oysters. I haven’t included it on the crawl because it’s more restaurant than pub really. After that he opts for a quick sausage roll from Lolly & Cooks in the George’s St. arcade, which he eats on a bench on Drury St and heads for the airport – never to be seen on our shores again, sadly.
So if you do wind up doing this pub crawl, or even supping in any of the pubs mentioned, give Anto a thought. Maybe raise a glass to him. And remember to mind the aul head, and look out for the heads around ya.
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