Food & Drink

Behind the Bar: Michael Higgins, Tir na nÓg Philadelphia

It’s not too surprising that Michael Higgins is a bartender at one of Philadelphia’s favorite Irish pubs.

“My family owned a pub in Galway for probably seven years,” he says, “and the first time I poured a pint of any kind was the night we opened. That’s how I was thrust into the pub world, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

After the pub sold, he moved to the United States. He’s been at Tir na nÓg for 10 years.

We caught up with him recently and asked him a few questions about his life behind the bar.

What do you serve most often?

At an Irish pub, it’s easy: Guinness, a pint of the black stuff. Or as they say in Ireland, a pint of plain.

What do you serve least often?

Rusty nail, I’d say. Scotch and Drambuie. I feel like nobody asks for that anymore.

What do you most like serving?

Well, I’ll be stereotypical and say a pint of Guinness. We have a good name for Guinness, we pour it the right way, we serve it with the Guinness logo facing the customer. It’s like a two- or three-step process. The Guinness people are very particular. It’s all about the presentation and the display. If I had to name a second, I’d say I like making Irish coffee, too.

What do you least like serving?

An old-fashioned. It takes a few more ingredients, and it takes a little longer to do.

What do you like about being a bartender?

I like the whole social aspect of it, meeting people from all walks of life. You never know who’s going to come through the door. If you don’t like people, you shouldn’t be a bartender, that’s what I say.

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