In his book Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain wrote, “There’s something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint absolutely alone at the bar — even in this fake-ass Irish pub,” and spends an entire chapter singing the praises of “the stink of Lysol from the too-clean floor” at a place named “Paddy McGee’s or Seamus O’Doul’s or Molly whatever — none of whom exist or ever existed.”
Me, I love drinking in the afternoon, too. Dives, back patios, tragic small-town gay bars, Dolores Park — yes to all of it. But Irish bars? Hardly ever. Why? Because they almost always suck — for exactly the reasons Bourdain lists at great length. He’s purporting to wax poetic about their virtues, but really he’s just letting readers know what a down-to-earth proletarian he is.
Anyhoo, just the other day, the same noted Everyman-lebrity Anthony Bourdain told Thrillist
I was in San Francisco, and I was desperate for beer, and I walked into this place. I thought it was an old bar. And I sat down, and I looked up, and I noticed there was a wide selection of beers I’d never heard of. Which is fine. OK, I’m in some sort of brew pub. What’s good? But I looked around: the entire place was filled with people sitting there with five small glasses in front of them, filled with different beers, taking notes. This is not a bar. This is fucking Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This is wrong. This is not what a bar is about. A bar is to go to get a little bit buzzed, and pleasantly derange the senses, and have a good time, and interact with other people, or make bad decisions, or feel bad about your life. It’s not to sit there fucking analyzing beer. It’s antithetical.
I’m dying of curiosity here. Which old-San-Francisco-bar-that’s-actually-a-pretentious-brewpub-full-of-obscurities did he find himself in? Where was our globetrotting Joe Six-Pack, a totally unfussy dude who packs braised rabbit in his seven-year-old daughter’s school lunches and eats with Barack Obama and who can walk into any craft beer bar in the world and literally drink for free until he explodes — except in this one case when none of the pod people had the good manners to look up and acknowledge the presence of this avatar of global foodie culture and Jesus isn’t the exponential growth of good beer just the worst? The worst. Note-taking!
(It goes without saying, but it’s totally OK to care about what you’re drinking when you’re in a bar. Also, paying attention to what you put down your beer-hole and having a good time aren’t mutually exclusive.)
And for what it’s worth, Bourdain — who is, for the most part, awesome, and got in a really good dig about “Mumford and Sons IPA” — has also said, “Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”