I have been on a noble quest ever since I first saw How I Met Your Mother four and a half years ago: to find my MacClaren's. For those of you sad, bitter folk who are not familiar, MacClaren's is the Irish pub that the loveable gang from HIMYM (I know I said I hate acronyms, but typing out How I Met Your Mother really is tiresome), frequent on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. It is conveniently located a few floors below their apartment, making it easy to pop down for a pint, and never worry about designated drivers. ("How easy is it to sneak into the zoo, because I need to see some penguins like right now.")
I have a thing for Irish pubs, even nay especially fake Irish pubs. I'm not even Irish. I think I just have the Green Fever something fierce. So now that I'm searching for an apartment, one of the things I'm looking for is close proximity to an Irish pub. Not just any Irish pub though. THE Irish pub (or British. I'm not too picky.) When it comes to finding my MacClaren's, here is what I am looking for:
1. Good atmosphere. Meaning not douchey, too old or too young. The kind of place you can go in jeans and not feel completely out of place.
2. Not over-crowded. I hate not being able to sit down. Not empty either. That's just awkward if you get a boring bartender.
3. Cheap drinks. And by cheap, I mean under 5 bucks for a beer or cider in my case.
4. Must have cider. Preferably on tap so we can get pitchers. Because cider is the shit.
5. Good music. The kind of place that you might spontaneously burst into a full-bar singalong of Don't Stop Believin'. It's happened once, I'm convinced I can make it happen again.
6. Kickass bartender. One who can flip and twirl bottles and glasses, make hilarious small talk, occasionally gives free drinks, and is preferably an adorable man candy, but not in an obnoxious douchey way.
7. Cool locals. Preferably hysterical old men who buy you drinks and make for great stories.
8. Brick. I have an inexplicable passion for brick architecture. Something about it just feels so authentically Irish and homey.
9. Within walking distance. I may not get lucky with this last one. It's probably too much to hope for.
10. Overall, it just needs to be the kind of place my friends and I can hang out at, where everybody knows our name. ("HUTCH!!") (That was a Cheers reference if you missed it.)
As much as I hate beer,
that's how much I LOVE Cider!
I've found a few contenders since moving to LA:
1. Molly Malone's on Fairfax. (Great music, multiple celebrity sightings - I stood next to the pretty blonde Australian doctor from House, saw Bob the Bachelor, and someone else who escapes my memory-a little pricey, more than slightly douchey and touristy)
2. O'Brien's in Santa Monica. (Good prices, but I went there both times for a company event where we got happy hour prices. Mediocre service, but great decor. Not to mention cider!!)
3. The Queen's Head in Santa Monica (British, but kudos on the authentic bartender, great fish and chips, multiple types of cider, unfriendly atmosphere, way too expensive. Also has bad memories since I went there by myself when I was depressed and unemployed and got fairly tipsy in the middle of the day on a Wednesday for the first and last time in my life.)
4. The Fox and Hounds in Studio City (Again, British, but within walking distance of work and my friends' house. Decent prices. Cider on tap. But overcrowded, loud, and somewhat douchey.)
5. Gabe's on Sepulveda. (Neither British nor Irish, but a kickass karaoke bar where the Sally Tomatoes made their debut as karaoke supahstars and brought down the house with a little help from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Great prices, strong drinks, awesome atmosphere. Bit of a drive though.)
Notable mentions (ie, not in LA)
The Temple Bar District (Dublin, Ireland. Duh. Also known as Hutch's Disneyland)
The Cock and Bull (Bordeaux, France/Sydney, Australia)
Hannigans (Granada, Spain)
That one in Melbourne with the awesome trivia night (Anabel, Romany, help me out!)
That one Scottish bar in Rome (sorry I can't be more specific)
Goat Hill Tavern (Newport Beach, CA)
Little Knight (Costa Mesa, CA)
And probably a few others that I can't remember right now. There are still a few more I've been told about, but have yet to visit. I welcome recommendations.
The good news is, last night, I do believe Kelly Bean and I discovered our MacClaren's. We thought it might be the Fox and Hounds. We went there for the second time after I'd had a long week and really needed some cider. It was nice, but kind of loud and smokey. So we scooted out early and headed back towards her apartment. On the way there however, we noticed hidden away in an abandoned looking shopping center, a little pub called Maeve's Residuals with an Irish flag on the sign. Since it was only 8:30pm, we decided to give it a shot.
From the moment we walked in, we felt home. We sat at the bar and were instantly welcomed by the world's most adorable bartender, Josh. He hooked us up with two bottles of Strongbow, and gave us one for free, since it was our first time there (yay!). There was a good crowd of locals, but it still felt open and breezy. The music was mostly decent, some classic rock including Santana (until some stupid ho-bag picked out a piece o' crap rap song from the juke box. I wanted to slap her with a shillelagh.) The bathrooms weren't disgusting (which is all you can ask from any bar.) And Josh gave me sound advice for living in South Central: Duck.
I love a man who knows how to work a shillelagh.
The evening had it's highlights, like when Kelly spit out her mint from Fox and Hounds onto a napkin in order to truly appreciate her cider and then ate it after she was done. Classy lady, that one. And it was also enjoyable when we were both hit on by men in their fifties. Mine was a drummer who travels to places like Singapore, India, and Korea. Jealous? He offered to buy me a drink but since I had to drive, I offered to let him buy me a water instead. I went out to try to escape from the absolute madness that is my job, and wouldn't you know it, my future boyfriend is a resident of my apartment complex. And in the middle of brazenly hitting on a woman who could easily be his daughter, he had the nerve to ask me what it would cost him to get out of his lease if he had to move to India. Grrrrrrrrr.
So maybe frequenting a pub so close to where I work isn't such a good idea. Still though, I gotta give Maeve's a solid review. I think in time it could be the One.