Walk two blocks west of Central Park and the Natural History museum to the Northeast corner of 81st and Amsterdam. Nestled within an area of neighborhood and what you might call ‘Frat’ bars with their crazy happy hours and drink promos, we find ourselves standing outside and Irish bar with the most Irish of names… St. James’ Gate. Naming any bar after the home of our favourite tipple is a bold step. The question is, would the St. James’ Gate employees approve of their New York counterparts efforts?
Enough staring at the all glass exterior, lets venture in and find out.
Parking ourselves at the bar on a sleepy midweek afternoon our attention is immediately drawn to the camera crew in the process of an interview, they’re all drinking the black stuff so we know although a slow afternoon the Guinness is flowing.
The Irish bartender starts off well by reaching for four 20 ounce glasses, makes sure they are clean and dry, then commences with the first pour. The glass is held at a good 45 degree angle and with good proximity of the nozzle to the glass. Since the bar is fairly quiet we can here the satisfying hiss as the beer flows, indicating the gas is good. This is confirmed as the first pour settles just at the correct height and in the appropriate amount of time. Each pint is then topped off with a nice crown and placed in front of us.
We raise a glass to one another then get busy tasting. With a fresh, smooth, light taste we are confident St. James’ Gate is living up to its name. Our suspicions are confirmed when the pint keeps its head down the glass, leaving a nice trail of froth in its wake.
After a few more samples, just to confirm the continuity of the pour and taste, you understand. We conclude that St. James’ Gate has the perfect benchmark pint for the UWS and has laid down the gauntlet to other bars in the area to pick up the challenge.
St. James’ Gate has set the bar for Guinness in the neighbourhood. We loved the mix of modern and traditional styling; they have definitely found a great balance between the two. There are a couple of small nonintrusive TVs above the bar, along with a fantastic mural of St. James’ Gate in Dublin taking centre stage. We also liked the famous quotes above the bar. See if you can find them. So if you’re not interested in crazy happy hours and the crowd they attract, but want to sit with a good pint, decent bar food and the local regulars, in good surroundings, then this is the place for you.
St. James Gate also has a good selection of foreign and domestic drafts, plus a great selection of whisky and liquor to keep everyone happy.
Happy hour – Monday through Friday 4-7pm
$1 off all drinks, $4 American beers.
You can keep up with St. James’ Gate at their website www.stjamesgatenyc.com
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