What It’s Like to Be a Bartender in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day

Shocking! Everyone wants to order Guinness.

Beer pouring

Beer pour photo via Shutterstock

St. Patrick’s Day may be a lovely day to celebrate your Irish heritage, but it also conjures up a less savory image—a cavalcade of debauchery, with revelers getting way too drunk and law enforcement called in.

But is the rowdiness in Boston really that bad? To investigate, we caught up with bartenders from a few different areas around town to find out what it’s like to work Boston’s biggest bar holiday.

“By the end of the night, people are more exhausted than they are drinking too much, to be honest,” says Vince Mecurri of the Green Briar in Brighton. “It’s just a long stretch. A lot of times I’ve started early in the morning, gone the whole night, and seen people just try to keep up. It’s funny to watch. We’ve got people falling asleep.”

Hold up. People are falling asleep instead of partying on this fine holiday? We may have to adjust our expectations. OK, that was Brighton. What about at Ned Devine’s in Faneuil Hall? Surely crazy things happen there?

“Not really,” says bartender Sheri Sprague. “Pacing yourself is the best way to go. You don’t want to get shut off early on your night out.”

Hm, OK, we’d better cross the river. What are things like at the Druid over in Cambridge. Are people getting rowdy over there?

“They’re all pretty respectful,” says John Blake, who’s been working at the establishment for ten years. “Where we are, it doesn’t get that messy. It’s all people in a celebratory mood.”

All of our sources said, unsurprisingly, that Guinness is a big hit on St. Patrick’s Day, though Sprague says Jameson Irish Whiskey is pretty popular, too. That sounds like a suitable drink for St. Paddy’s, but is there anything you shouldn’t order, if you’re trying to help your bartender out?

“Any type of blended drink, because it’s so busy,” says Mecurri. “It’s in March, but we’ve had some days when it’s been really nice out, and people will be like, ‘Oh, I’ll have a frozen margarita,’ and I’m like, ‘Seriously, you want me to make a frozen margarita for you right now?’”

Sprague had similar concerns. “Mojitos are a no-no,” she says. “I’d say mojitos are a bartender’s worst enemy. I think Long Islands are a little aggressive at times, so those are probably a good drink to stay away from.”

Blake is less specific in his concerns, saying, “The only thing we don’t want people to order is too much.”

“It’s not holy water people are drinking,” Blake concedes, but he’s never had to call the cops on someone. In fact, he says, “I always look forward to it every year.”

All right, how about in the epicenter of the celebration? We checked in with Ron Rumble over in Southie at L Street Tavern. “We get a lot of respect. There’s never any trouble here,” he confirms.

Really? Nothing crazy happening? “Oh, no.”

Well, there you have it. It may be time to recalibrate our visions of St. Patrick’s Day in Boston. After all, the BPD only had to arrest 10 people at the parade last year.