Sitting in Sin É and taking in a live Irish trad music session recently, my friends & I struck up a discussion with a group of visitors from out of town.
In Ireland on a two-week break, the group from Nashville in Tennessee had made the pub on Coburg Street their home during their stay in Cork and admitted, on their first night, that they hadn’t initially realised that the music being playing wasn’t recorded and that it was actually emanating from the group of musicians hidden away around the corner.
What was even more interesting, however, was that they weren’t indulging in the usual clichés – pints of Guinness. Instead, they were drinking glasses and pints of Tom Crean’s lager and were genuinely eager to learn more about Craft Beers in Cork.
There was controversy in Canada just this week when a recruitment firm portrayed a drunken Irish man recovering from the after effects of St. Patrick’s Day in a newspaper ad. The company apologised following complaints, and it’s also fair to say that the long-time perception of Ireland being solely a nation of drinkers is changing.
Quality is more important than quantity these days, and – as Irish travellers explore the world – our taste buds and expectations have been exposed to different varieties of brewing techniques, local beers and wines. Our preferences have changed and matured in the process.
The popularity of Arthur Mayne’s Chemist and Wine Garden and the wines that fill its unique, state-of-the-art enomatic wine system is a clear sign of how Cork’s tastes and nights out have changed.
It wasn’t that long ago when your choice of wine in a bar on Leeside was red or white. Now Corkonians have refined their preferences down to grape type and country, and choosing which new wine to sample in Arthur Mayne’s is akin to the days when you had a pound in a penny sweet shop…
Beer, likewise, has undergone a similar transformation and ahead of an exciting development in craft beer (the Seven Windows Brewery Company will open its door on the Coal Quay very shortly!), a unique range of drinks are available at the Crane Lane Theatre.
We regaled our visitors with the story behind the return of Mi Daza – a famous 150-year Cork stout – to the city’s streets, before discussing how the older traditions of developing local recipes and using only the finest ingredients had come back into demand and were now being merged with more efficient brewing techniques with a great deal of success.
All of this history and culture is summed up very nicely amongst the establishments that are part of the Cork Heritage Pubs trail of course. So perhaps it’s time to remember the best advice you get while travelling: eat and drink like the locals!