Local pubs and bartenders ready for a big day
By Jennifer Brancaccio
SUMMIT COUNTY — Sitting outside Jake’s Dive Bar in Breckenridge, bartender Eddie Steffan relaxes in a patio chair on an unusually warm March afternoon and shares with me a little known fact.
He’s very close. According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, Ireland’s population numbers about 4.7 million people and, according to Wikipedia, more than 36 million people (11.9 percent of America’s population) claim Irish ancestry.
Steffan has been a bartender for nine years and some of his favorite experiences have been during St. Patrick’s Day — an event filled with friends, food, and of course, green beer. One of his most memorable experiences was at a St. Baldrick’s cancer charity event in Chicago, his home city. He and his bar coordinated with a hair stylist to allow for volunteers to shave their heads and donate their hair to be used for wigs for those with cancer and other diseases.
“I shaved my head for someone who needed my hair more than I did,” he says.
He hopes to one day bring the charity to Summit County for future St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Steffan and other bartenders like Derek Platt of the Gold Pan Saloon look upon the laissez-faire attitude during the holiday affectionately after having seen the more reserved patrons ‘let loose’ a little each previous year. Both feel honored to be able to provide an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment.
Platt started preparing for the festivities a full two weeks before the 17th by ordering five cases of Jameson Irish whiskey and planning a few of the St Patrick’s Day specials, including $3 shots of Jameson and $4 Guinness bottles.
“We’ll have live music by Holden Young, a rock and cover band, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and maybe a costume contest,” Platt says.
Platt proudly shares that older ‘pros’ stay at the bar the entire day and celebrate while the younger patrons usually wait until nightfall to pay homage to the Irish.
“It’s nice when the girls dance on the bar too,” he adds with a smile.
Some patrons desire a more authentic Irish feel for their St. Patrick’s Day festivities and Summit County boasts a handful of traditional pubs and taverns including Murphy’s Food & Spirits in Silverthorne.
Established in 1998, Murphy’s has been a front-runner in Silverthorne’s Irish celebrations since the tavern’s first St. Patrick’s Day. When Murphy’s first opened, the menu consisted mainly of American and Mexican cuisine until the owner, Bernie Murphy, realized that it would be more successful as a tavern serving traditional Irish fare.
“That first St. Patrick’s Day we were packed. You see your place the way you would want to see it every day,” he says.
Murphy leaves his office momentarily to bring back a photo of an actual Irishman with a cane, bowler hat, green vest and a huge grin. He had meandered in to celebrate that first St. Patrick’s Day at Murphy’s.
The walls of the pub are covered with Irish paraphernalia and photos of locals relaxing in their greenest. Murphy continues the tour by proudly showing off the beautiful wood-paneled interiors of the barrooms, procured at auction from a 1920’s Irish courtroom.
“We’ll have a limited Irish menu on St. Patrick’s Day, including corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, and our Irish stew,” he says.
The bar typically goes through 200 to 300 pounds of corned beef while serving hundreds of meals throughout the day.
“It’s out busiest day of the year. Everyone is Irish!” says Murphy. “The rear parking lot will be open to patrons and there will be live music beginning at three.”
Its clear that as March progresses and Mardi Gras beads go back into the closet that the bars and restaurants of Summit County are gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day. They not only hang clovers from ceilings and order more than enough Irish whiskey, but also show their pride for the holiday by eagerly preparing to welcome locals and patrons from all over the globe.
Bartenders and owners alike are up to the task of providing people with a variety of ways to celebrate whether it is sipping a Guinness over Irish stew with family or by dancing to live music while taking shots of Jameson with a newfound friend.
Contributor Jennifer Brancaccio is creative writer in Dillon.
Filed under: Colorado, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news Tagged: | holidays, Ireland, Irish whiskey, Murphy's Silverthorne, St. Patrick's Day, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, Summit County pubs