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Something's Brewing Today, and Irish Are First With a Thirst

March 17, 1988|PATRICK MOTT | Patrick Mott is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

Today is the day that makes the people who run the shop at St. James Gate, Dublin, smile prosperous smiles.

St. James Gate is where the Guinness brewery is located, and it is from there that hundreds of thousands of gallons of thick black stout are shipped throughout the world to be slugged down on March 17 by Irishmen named Kowalski and Moskowitz and Gomez.

There is nothing like St. Patrick's Day to bring out the latent barfly in people. And if a bar happens to have an Irish name, it is a good bet the place will do turn-away business at least one day a year. And that day is today.

In Orange County, it isn't difficult to find an Irish bar--or at least a bar with an Irish name. Simply follow the sound of off-key singing until you run into a huge, relentlessly happy crowd of people who don't look like they are going to go back to work after lunch.

The following are among the most popular such watering holes in the county:

O'Hara's Pub, 150 N. Glassell St., Orange: Arrive early, counsels owner Gail Hewitt. O'Hara's is small, and the crowd today can fill it to thes bursting point by noon.

"Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day," said Hewitt, "so we're busy from the time we open at 11 in the morning. The place is usually full by noon." Guinness stout and Harp lager, both Irish brews, are served in bottles, and draft Coors is available in small souvenir buckets. Irish stew and corned beef sandwiches go for $3 each.

O'Hara's is a true bar, without a restaurant attached, and although tables and chairs are brought in to handle the crowd, it is mostly SRO until closing at 2 a.m.

Muldoon's Irish Pub, 202 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach: This is a popular lunch and afterwork spot next to Fashion Island, and on this day the usual tables and chairs are cleared away to make room for all the bending elbows, assistant manager Rita Preston said, adding:

"It just gets real crazy. It's almost impassable sometimes. After work about 6 is when the wait really starts."

The below-street-level restaurant and bar, with its adjacent open-air patio, opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 2 a.m. Drawings for T-shirts, buttons and other prizes are held throughout the day, and, if you don't feel like eating in the restaurant, corned beef sandwiches are served on the patio. Guinness, Harp lager and Bass ale are served on tap. Innisfree, a traditional Irish band, begins playing in the afternoon.

Silky Sullivan's, 10201 Slater Ave., Fountain Valley The crowds get too large for the bar proper, so each St. Patrick's Day, owner Bill Madden sets up a long tent in the parking lot to handle the overflow. And, he says, even that isn't enough. By the time the after-work crowd arrives, he noted, there is a wait not only to get into the bar, but into the tent as well.

Guinness, Harp, Watney's and Bass are on tap in the oak-paneled bar-restaurant, as well as the tent, and corned beef and cabbage, corned beef sandwiches, Irish stew, buffalo wings and stuffed potatoes are served throughout the day.

The place opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 2 a.m., but the best time to arrive, Madden advised, is about 2 in the afternoon, between lunch and the after-work crowd.

Music figures largely in the day, with one of the Southland's best-known Irish bands, the Mulligans, playing from 1 to 4 p.m. A bagpiper plays from 5 to9 p.m.

It all makes for many boisterous hours, Madden observed.

Malarkey's Irish Pub, 3011 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach: This is a "neighborhood-type bar," says owner Bill hamilton of his pub on the Peninsula, and neighbors and others start filling the place up soon after the 7 a.m. opening. The usual menu is suspended today, and corned beef hash and eggs are served in the morning and corned beef sandwiches in the afternoon. Guinness and Harp can be had in bottles, along with "oceans of green beer" on tap.

An Irish bagpiper drops in to play at various times. Drawings are held for door prizes.

O'Keefe's, located in Enderle Center, opens at 11 a.m., and a traditional Irish band begins playing at 4 p.m. Moyes said that although there was no wait to get in last year, "it looks like there will be this year. We'll be checking IDs after 4 in the afternoon for younger people who aren't accompanied by an adult. We'll be at capacity most of the day."

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