Friday, December 9, 2011

Leaving Las Vegas

The Rí Rá Irish Pub in Vegas kicked major arse!
Man, oh man, what a damn whirlwind the first week of December has been! 
The 500-lb. St. Patrick with
a Guinness in hand!
I hit up Las Vegas for the first four days of the month (which helped temporarily get my mind off of things with the recent passing of my mom); since I have been back, Atlanta is just as nuts as expected. Although I enjoyed the festive Holiday party with my fellow automotive journalists, saw a media screening of The Sitter and was blown away by basically a Cirque De Soleil production on horseback, the Cavalia Odysseo (which was absolutely incredible and an awesome date idea to guarantee a pleasurable evening after), I kept reflecting on my cool time in Sin City. 
Besides my stay at the posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel thanks to Lexus drinking Squatter's Hop Rising which I discussed here, I had one helluva time at the Rí Rá Irish Pub. Its gorgeous, Victorian-themed hardwood decor made this authentic pub even more prominent in the swanky Shoppes at Mandalay Place. Everything from the furnishings to the beer, music, recipes, floors, 500-lb. St. Patrick statue and even their personable staff have pretty much been shipped from Ireland to this 8,000 square-foot Vegas hot spot. (The 11 other  Rá locations throughout the U.S. also boast similar authentic fixtures.)
 The Kilcooly rocked!
I certainly enjoyed wolfing down the Whiskey Garlic Mussels, Salmon with Mashed Potatoes and, man oh man, The Kilcooly: deli turkey, smoked bacon, melted cheddar cheese, fresh sliced apples, cranberry mayo and grilled sourdough. This thing was so damn good and I was so excited to find out the Atlanta location serves this killer sandwich as well! 
I washed these delectable vittles down with a nice variety of cold...excuse me, cool ones including the smooth Porterhouse Oyster Stout out of Dublin (4.8 percent) that Manager Mark McElkerney insisted I try (and for good reason!), along with a golden ale from Sin City Brewery, and the Joseph James Red Fox Imperial Stout at 9.3 percent. For the latter,  I wished for a bit more body, texture and head coming from this one but it was my first beer to try from that Nevada-based brewery so I was happy and I am looking forward to trying others. 
Last up was the creamy Foynes Original Irish Coffee that originated in the West Ireland small town it's named after. That was the perfect happy ending, let me tell ya.
Bottom line, you have to come here when in Vegas for an awesome beer sipping, virtually chilling-in-Ireland experience. I have to give a special shout out to the super cool Rí Rá owner David Kelly, along with his partners Ciaran Sheehan and Jay Luther. They are greatly responsible for preserving the rich tradition of consuming beer (especially Ireland's!).
The Guinness Store was full of swag.
(www.mandalaybay.com)
Oh yeah, when I reluctantly left Rí Rá, the only Guinness store in North America was right next door. As you well know, Guinness makes some bitchin' swag and I decided to snatch up some branded beach sandals and a dog tag chain complete with a bottle opener that was sold in their 1,500 square-foot location. They also carried everything from towels to candles, ties, boxers, artwork and cool fur-lined winter hats, but I had to chill and save some loot for the Stone IPA a bar was selling across the hall. I ordered it to go so that I could sip it on the free Mandalay tram that took me back to the Strip. You gotta love that! Take notes American malls!
I'll miss ya, Vegas!
Ale

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