The Unreliable Guide To… Pubs
The Unreliable Guide loves pubs. A good pub is a thing of joy; a place to celebrate, commiserate, initiate new friendships and generally have a bloody good time. But what makes a pub ‘good’? Some pubs are horrible; full of pokies, TV screens and bad beer. Others are soulless reproductions of ye Olde Irish pubs and are as authentic as a bad cover band. Pubs like these are worth neither your time nor your money. But if you want to experience a really good night out, The Unreliable Guide has some tips and tricks to make sure you find what the Irish call the ‘craic’.
Location, location, location
You can have a good pub in a bad location and you can have a bad pub in a good location, but location is always important. Even a mediocre pub is tolerable in a great position, but what is the best location for a pub? A view can be great – nothing nicer than a good pint or glass of bubbles as you watch the sun set over the ocean – but generally the best located pub is the one within crawling distance of your chosen bed, so choose your house wisely.
This is indefinable, but vital. You’ll know as soon as you walk into a pub if its ambiance is right for you. It should have appealing, friendly staff and play good music at the right volume. A pub must not be too full, but not too empty either, not so brightly lit that everyone looks awful, but not so dark that you end up making unfortunate decisions. Like Goldilocks, you want the pub that is just right for you. Bear in mind that a pub that you love at 5pm might suck at 10.30pm, or vice versa. It’s all about finding the right place at the right time.
A good pub will always have something tasty on hand for you to soak up the booze. Legend has it that tapas was invented because the Spanish king insisted food be served with alcohol to prevent everyone getting too shitfaced. Wise man. In Italy, they often choose their bars based on the quality of the crostini more than the Campari. Many Australian pubs still have food either as a main meal or as an afterthought, but it’s improving.
You need a pub that contains at least a percentage of your crowd. That doesn’t mean it has to be filled exclusively with your people, far from it. The best pubs are an eclectic mix of all sorts, but if you are the only vanilla, heterosexual couple in a gay, S&M pub you may feel out of place.
Last, but not least, a good pub has to have good booze. It’s crucial. Your chosen poison must always be available and presented in an appropriate vessel at the correct temperature, state of fizziness, etc.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests that if you have no decent pubs nearby you have two simple choices. Move to somewhere that does, or consider doing what some friends of ours did in Melbourne; fed up with a longish walk home from their nearest decent hostelry, they turned their front room into a micro pub. Nice.