“They talk of my drinking but never my thirst. ”
– Scottish proverb.
It feels like a British pub, and there’s no place like it in town (I hear Man of Kent in Hoosick Falls, NY, rivals Mahar’s with it’s selection and ambiance, but I’ve never been there). Mahar’s even smells like a beer joint (in a good way). The interior is finished in wood, it’s a touch underlit, and it’s often teeming with people; just chatting away and enjoying a pint. There are no TVs in the place, if there is music on, it’s quiet, and there often seems to be a shortage of seats (it’s really quite small). No one there is doing shots, topping off plastic cups from Bud Light pitchers, or playing darts/trivia (not that those are bad things). It’s a place to enjoy a beer and a conversation. In fact, they only serve beer. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the selection is limited. They have ~35 beers on tap and about 100 or so beers in bottles. The vast beer selection includes cask beers, wheat beers, ales, lagers, bocks, double bocks, stouts, cream ales, fruit beers, and on and on and on. They peddle beers from all over the world; and just like pubs in England, they close relatively early (midnight).
If you’re the type that is interested in keeping track of your beer-drinking (I am not), Mahar’s offers a beer club where you can record all the different beers you’ve tried. They encourage patrons to join the beer club by offering incentives like a free case of any beer you choose, a t-shirt, your own (engraved) mug, and ultimately a name plate bearing your name on the wall (only after drinking the requisite number of pints/bottles). I am not sure what the requirements are to earn these rewards; go there and ask. Also, I am not very adventurous when it comes to beer; hey, I know what I like (namely Spaten Oktoberfest, as of late).
Check out some photos below:
There is a computer and printer in the back of the place for patrons to print their list of beers; or if you’re a curious first-timer, you can print a complete list of beers to see what they offer. They also have food for sale (pre-made sandwiches, crackers, blocks of cheese, etc) from a small refrigerator, should you get the munchies while there.
Before I went there, I was warned that the bartenders aren’t the most congenial lot, and I have seen them behave tersely to other patrons. But hey, they’ve been good to me so far. Plus, I like the place so much, I’d probably be willing to overlook a few minor service-indiscretions. Some people have referred to the bartenders as “beer snobs,” and that could be. I certainly wouldn’t recommend ordering a Coors light. I think the sign over the bar says it all:
The last time I was there, my friend brought some great German cheese and crackers. The cheese was really good (who knew, right?). We also played chess; I lost. I guess he’s some sort of chess super-genius or something [wink]. Maybe I’ll nickname him “Deep Blue.” Anyway, Mahar’s is a great pub.
Ok, if beer is not your thing, the Wine Bar on Lark St. is also a great place to have a glass of wine and bite to eat (although I think they might have a beer or two on tap, too). It’s got it all, atmosphere, food, and knowledgeable servers. The wine selection isn’t as extensive as you might think, but we always manage to find something we like. And by the third glass, we like everything [hiccup].
If wine and beer on their own still aren’t your thing and you need live music, let me recommend Red Square. They have wine, beer, mixed drinks, and often, live music too. I’ve had the good fortune of being pleasantly surprised a few times by the quality of the bands; most recently by a reggae band from New Paltz, NY (again, who knew?). They’re called the Big Takeover and they’re chocked full o’ talent and good tunes. Have a look and listen at their MySpace page, here (we really like the song “Red Rum,” go on, give it a listen).
If I still haven’t mentioned a “bar” to suit you, try Saso’s sushi bar:
If you don’t like that, I give up!