Jameson Stories: leaving for Ireland

ADVERTISER MESSAGE: As we celebrate with all of our friends who make St. Patrick's Day great, we raise a glass to Jameson for sponsoring this story.

I'm sitting at my local bar, the Pelican Inn, enjoying a whiskey and remembering the many wonderful experiences I've had in Irish bars around the world. It is the folks behind an Irish bar that make it such a comfortable place. I find them ubiquitous and have for most of my adult life, seeking out the Irish pub as an island of calm and safe normalcy, regardless of where my travels take me.

In my mid 20s, I spent hours in the Irish Times, a West Los Angeles bar run by a wonderful old Irish expatriate. He named the bar after his former employer, Ireland's legendary newspaper, and always made you feel welcome. Over a glass of whiskey, he told me no matter where I was in the world, if I was lost, hurt, bored or scared I should find an Irish bar. I could rely on there to always be one and I could rely on them for a few simple things: beer you can drink, food you can eat and an Irishman ready to tell you how badly he misses home.

This incredible barkeep passed away a number of years ago, however his son runs the bar now. I still visit the Irish Times when I'm in Los Angeles and I've taken his advice to heart. I have found Irish bars to be home all around the globe, and I've always been immediately accepted and welcomed. As soon as I order an Irish whiskey the magic begins. The friendship and advice from that old barkeep have served me well all over Europe, in Asia, South and Central America, and the Caribbean Islands. Strangely, I've never really contemplated what it'd be like to just go to a bar in Ireland. Until now.

A few months ago we were asked, "Do any of you drink Irish Whiskey?" It turns out I'm the sole aficionado, here at Boing Boing, and our sponsor Jameson's offered us a tour of their historic distillery, a chance to experience St. Patrick's Day in Dublin and the opportunity to meet more than a few of these fantastic bar people on their native turf. What would an Irish bar be like without a foreign land to commiserate over? Would we have nothing to talk about? Will we endlessly discuss Ireland's beauty? I can't wait to find out.

Jameson's brand ambassador, Kate, explained that my experience and appreciation of Irish bars is pretty much what I should expect to find. She tells me its quite common, as with my favorite bar in Los Angeles, for pubs to pass down through a family, and bars to build a sense of gravitas. Kate tells me I'll likely be sharing my favorite whiskey, not only at the historic distillery where it's been triple-distilled since the 1780s, but over many conversations with new friends.

It only makes sense that a trip to Ireland would be to find the origin of this wonderful spirit of camaraderie in barman-ship and that we'd do it over a whiskey!