O'Reilly's a little piece of Ireland in a cozy North Beach spot 

North Beach's O’Reilly’s Irish Pub and Restaurant is a little bit of Ireland, lively and comfortable, where during St. Patrick’s Day and other festivities perhaps more Guinness flows than in any other Irish bar in California. Owner Myles O’Reilly, who was once in the novitiate, calls the eating of Drake’s Bay oysters — a staple of the pub’s annual Oyster Festival in May — a “communion with the sea.” A mosaic of photographs and memorabilia cover the side walls, and the back wall features a mural of Irish literary greats, whose eyes watch over patrons. Bartender Deirdre Black has worked here since 1995, when O’Reilly’s opened, and she sports a button that reads: “I speak fluent Blarney.”

O’Reilly’s Irish Pub and Restaurant 622 Green St. (at Stockton Street), www.sforeillys.com, (415) 989-6222

How did you start in the business? I’m from Galway and I started in a pub in a little village there. So, you see, I figure it’s my birthright to be on one side of the bar or the other. And 15 years ago, I wanted some adventure so I came to San Francisco and found it.

What’s this bar like? It’s a great community, neighborhood bar, very eclectic and full of characters, always lively, with people laughing and always having stories to tell. What’s the “shamrock guarantee”? That comes with every pint of Guinness. Here, I’ll show you. Now Irish people take this very seriously. The head forms, and I draw in the foam with the taps — a perfect shamrock.

What are the most popular drinks here? The Irish coffee — we’re famous for it. The hot toddy, that I make with whiskey, lemon and cloves, and a bit of brown sugar. And the Bloody Marys. We sell a lot of those on weekends. And Guinness and shots.

What is the difference between this bar and one in Ireland? Not that much. I’ve worked in bars and nightclubs and this place has the qualities we feel a bar should have, it’s like a little Irish getaway, with so much of the culture, the music, the dancing.

Who taught you the most about bartending? The customers teach me a lot, about how they like their drinks. Older bartenders have given me a lot of good tips. The longer you’re in it, the more you know. What makes a good bartender? A certain personality, and you need a sense of humor. You need to be a good listener, and I’ve heard it all. The best thing about the work is the people, and they all have stories.

Any famous customers? Van Morrison, Rob Schneider, Curt Gentry the author, people from City Hall, and a lot of Irish musicians and San Francisco bartenders like Bobby and Matt McCambridge.” What’s the best tip you ever got? To drink a pint of water before you go to bed at night so you don’t wake up with a hangover.

Irish coffee

  • 1 shot of Jameson Irish whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 4 oz. coffee

Pour in 1½ oz. freshly whipped cream to top of glass.

About The Author

S.A. Tyson

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