[Editor’s Note: On this day after 2018’s International Margarita Day festivities, Tequila Jockey, Jim Johnston, shares his fond recollections of margarita making inside Ireland’s renowned Dick Mack’s Pub & Brewhouse, while visiting relatives in 2017.]
No Country for Cocktails
Ireland is not a cocktail country.
Don’t get me wrong, I had several well made drinks during my visit, but, in most pubs you’re going to find a diverse tap and a shelf stocked with whiskey.
Such was the case at Dick Mack’s Pub & Brewhouse in Dingle, County Kerry, a wonderful coastal town on the far west of Ireland.
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Historic Dick Mack’s has been serving up liquid refreshments since 1899. It has been in the same family and built a reputation as the classic example of an Irish pub. Besides a pristine tap, a brass fixture, polished daily with the pub’s name engraved on the front, there is a shelf from bar to ceiling full of Irish whiskeys.
In recent years, Dick Mack’s also has been awarded Munster province and Overall Irish whiskey bar of the year for 2014, 2015, and 2016. The pub also serves a fair amount of Dingle Gin from the distillery up the road.
I was told that most Americans drink the traditional Guinness draft, one of the light American lagers available, or they choose to taste some whiskeys from the impressive collection.
When I asked if there was any tequila in the house, Finn, grandson of Dick Mack himself, produced a bottle of what I typically keep on hand at home, Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado.
Ireland’s Cocktail Culture
What followed was a great discussion about the cocktail culture of Ireland, including the failed attempts of previous spirits brands to promote tequila on the island. Patron’s The Patronic (Patron tequila, tonic and lime) did not take off here.
Finn’s hope is that the acquisition of Bushmills by Cuervo flagship Proximo in 2014, would lead to a more modern, consumer savvy, tequila-esque promotion of the Irish whiskey label.
As we spoke I noticed a bottle of Cointreau hiding behind some whiskey, as well as some fresh lemon juice and quite a few limes waiting to be sliced.
We were staying with my two cousins in Dingle and it was they who, when they lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, introduced me to tequila and the simple art of the margarita.
The Simple Art of The Margarita
It was a particularly warm day for Ireland in late May, about 75 degrees. Perfect for enjoying margaritas.
I offered to give the Irish crew behind the bar a quick lesson in margarita making and they went about putting together the Irish version of the first really good margarita that I had ever had, the House Traditional, at the famed Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen in Santa Fe, where lemon juice is the citrus of choice.
We made margaritas, and the boys behind the bar agreed that they were a far better effort than the last attempt at tequila marketing that they had been exposed to.
I would venture back to Dick Mack’s several times that week but, knowing that I had a steady stream of tequila to taste when I came home, I stuck to the perfectly poured Guinness and local whiskey.
When I go back to Ireland, I may have a margarita waiting for me.