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Your Essential Irish Pub Etiquette Guide

Irish pubs are the corner stone of the community. A place to mingle and unwind, and much more than somewhere to get a bit tipsy.

With their trade mark rustic, cosy feel, you’ll instantly right at home in one and known an authentic one once you’re there.

Going to an Irish pub is usually right up on the list of things to do for those planning on going to Ireland. For that reason, we’ve pulled together an essential Irish pub etiquette guide for your trip to Ireland.

Irish Pub Etiquette

Buying Rounds

You may have heard of the ‘round system’ in Ireland. In Irish pubs it pretty standard practice to buy rounds of drinks for those who you’re with in the pub.

It will usually kick off when someone says: “I’ll get the first round, what are you having?”

Now it’s important to note – if you accept an offer of a drink, you are ‘in the round’. There will be an expectation that you will buy a round of drinks, before the first person buys again.

If you don’t plan on drinking much or don’t want to get into buying rounds, it’s perfectly acceptable to decline and not get into a round in the first place.

If you’re with a large group, don’t worry about having to buy 10 pints! Generally smaller groups will break off into rounds. Buying rounds in large groups is usually only done during special occasions.

Irish Pub Etiquette

Irish Pub Dress Code

Irish people generally dress quite casually and going to pubs is no different. Unless you’re going for a ‘night out’, dressing relaxed is the norm.

You may want to put on shirt, a fancy top or a smart pair of jeans. Perhaps ditch sneakers, though you’re unlikely to be refused entry to most places, with the exception of a few fancier pubs in bigger towns and cities.

Irish Pub Etiquette

Tipping in Irish Pubs

Tipping in pubs in Ireland, isn’t expected but always appreciated. Unless you’re getting served at your table for food and drink. Then 10-15% tip is the norm.

You don’t tip when you order at the bar. However if you order a round of drinks at your table, it’s acceptable to give a euro or two for the service.

Irish Pub Etiquette

Under 18’s in Pubs

18 years old is the legal drinking age in Ireland. Anyone under the age of 18 is allowed in most pubs, but must leave after 9pm (10pm from May to September).

Some pubs may have their own restriction regrading letting under 18’s in, though these are usually in the bigger cities like Dublin. If in doubt, just ask the bar staff.

Irish Pub Etiquette

What to Order in an Irish Pub?

  • Guinness – The iconic Irish stout. If you find the taste of porter a bit too bitter, ask for a dash of blackcurrant. Just make sure to let the head settle before you start sipping!
  • Craft Beer – The Irish craft beer scene has explode in recent years, thanks to generous tax breaks. Many bars will stock a local craft beer, just ask the barman for more information. If you like your IPA, you’ve come to the right place.
  • Irish Whiskey – You can’t beat that smooth taste of Irish whiskey. To get that unique taste, most Irish whiskeys are tripled distilled. Fun fact – Irish whiskey has been the fastest growing whiskey in the world since the 1990’s (move over scotch!). Try a Jameson, Bushmills or one of the newer whiskeys such as Teelings. Order it neat, on the rocks or with a mixer – your choice.
  • Bulmers – Also known as Magners in Northern Ireland. This Irish cider is brewed in Tipperary. A crisp fruity tastes that makes it the perfect warm summer evening treat.
  • Baileys – A smooth, sweet drink; that’s best suited as an after dinner drink. You can have it with or without ice.
  • Irish Gin – Another craze that has taken over Ireland in recent years is the appetite for gin. Like craft beer, gin distilleries have been popping up all over the place. Some good ones to look out for include: Gunpowder Irish Gin, Dingle Gin and Glendalough Dillisk Gin. Perfect with a tonic of course.
  • Smithwicks –Pronounced –‘smith-icks’. Another Irish classic; this Kilkenny red ale, has been brewed in Ireland since 1710. It’s best described as a balance taste, with a mild blend of mild hops, sweet malt and roasted barley.

Quick Tip: If you’re struggling with the size of Irish pints, (which tend to be bigger than the U.S). Try ordering a glass instead (glass of Guinness, glass of Smithwicks etc.). This is essentially half a pint, and makes it a lot easier to keep up with the locals!

Irish Pub Etiquette

Not Drinking Alcohol in an Irish Pub

It is perfectly acceptable to not drink in an Irish pub. With the tightening of drink driving laws, this has become more and more of a done thing.

You should however purchase something when you’re there. As getting only water all night long, whilst enjoying the music and ambiance of the pub might draw a few looks from the barman.

If you’re not drinking alcohol, there are plenty of fun Irish non-alcoholic drinks you can try. These include:

  • Rockshandy – An Irish invention, with a mix of sparkling orange and lemon. It’s delightfully refreshing
  • Cidona – A sparkling apple drink that tastes similar to Cider, goes nicely with a bag of Tayto crisps (chips).
  • Midwadi – An orange cordial drink. Great as well at the end of the night, when you’ve had enough of alcohol. Usually free or very cheap in most Irish pubs.
  • Red Lemonade – A drink pined for by many Irish abroad. It has a lemony taste, but is different from normal lemonade. Its actual ingredients are a secret.

Irish Pub Etiquette

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