Irish-American Interior Design: Make Your House Look Like an Irish Pub: The Bar

Nine Fine Irishmen in Las Vegas: Win enough money at the casinos and you could have something like this in your living room.

Nine Fine Irishmen in Las Vegas: Win enough money at the casinos and you could have something like this in your living room.

The last time I wrote about turning a home into an Irish pub, I focused on pub signs. But it isn’t a pub without a bar, and, moreover, it isn’t as much fun without a bar. If you’ve got quite a lot of room and quite a lot of money, you can do what many Irish pubs in America do, and actually buy a bar from Ireland. The most popular example of this is the Irish Pub Company, who Slate rather dimissively identified as being one of the guilty parties behind an explosion of “faux Irish pubs” throughout the world.

I understand Slate’s complain, and it’s easy to sneer at the inauthenticity of a business that builds antique-looking pubs (their styles included the “Country Cottage” and “Victorian Dublin.” But, then, I like these styles of pub, even if there is a whiff of Disneyland-style stage management about it. Whenever I’m in a new town, I go to the pubs that locals name as being “most like a real Irish pub,” and they’re always dives. I’ve never been one to mistake “crappy” for “authentic” when it comes to watering holes, and, besides, one you start arguing authenticity, you’re sliding down a long and dark rabbit hole. We Americans have always liked our Irishness to have a dollop of nostalgia and more than a dash of twee, and if these Irish-made pubs somehow aren’t authentically Irish, well, they’re perfect for Irish-Americans.

The real issue is cost: While the Pub Company says it will work around client’s budgets, those are typically going to budgets that range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and unless you’re an eccentric millionaire, that’s probably not what you’re ready to spend. So let’s discuss some other options, starting with the expensive and working our way back down to the reasonable.

There are plenty of home bars designed in the style of an Irish pub, such as the Dublin Irish Horse Equestrian Tavern Canopy Pub, pictured below, which will set you back a mere $6,594.50, plus another grand in shipping.

I could but it, but I would have to live in it.

I could buy it, but I would have to live in it.

There are others as well, such as the Irish Fitzpatrick Solid Mahogany Tavern from the King’s Bay, priced at  $8,795 without shipping, but I still feel like we’re in eccentric millionaire territory here.

Far more reasonable, both in terms of price and in terms of space used is the Guinness Raised Panel Bar Set, selling for $1606. It’s the sort of thing you can tuck into the corner of a room or make the centerpiece of a basement rumpus room, and who would not want a rumpus room in their basement?

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Let the wild rumpus begin!

And that assumes you want it branded. If you just want a Victorian/Edwardian-styled home bar, there are dozens of options. There is the Coaster Clarendon Traditional Bar with Marble Top, which comes in at under $1000, and the Crosley Furniture Alexandria Expandable Home Bar Cabinet, which is under $500.

Of course, having a home bar is just one way to display your liquor, and if you’re on a budget, in an apartment, or just space-conscious, a bar cart might be a better option. As far as I have been able to figure, there are no specifically Irish bar carts online, but for an elegant deco model made by an Irish company that would look right in a Noel Coward play and exactly wrong in a home Irish pub.

My recommendation it to go rustic and do some home crafts. My tastes are for furniture that looks like it was built by a hobo out of wood saved from a fire, and, fortunately, that style happens to be popular just now, such as this industrial bar cart from Target. Now, if you’re taste is for the kitschy, paint the wood green, but the Irish have a tradition of painting their doors all kinds of colors, and any will do.

Hobotacular.

Hobotacular.

Even the plainest bar becomes Irish when you add in Irish beer, liquor, and barware. And, as the so-called faux Irish pubs have discovered, the real trick is to decorate with Irish bric-a-brac, and we’ll cover that in the next installment.

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Max Sparber

Max Sparber is a playwright, journalist, and history detective in Omaha, Nebraska.