Updated: Mar 2, 2022
‘Casual Pints’ is a concept that is relatively new to me. As are pints of any nature. There’s an emphasis on casual. The whole point behind casual pints is not the pints per se but rather the casual manner in which these pints are ordered, purchased, presented and drank. I credit a special group of people for my exposure to them.
My first introduction to casual pints was in a wine café on Dawson Street. I had brought a friend there after falling in love with the place. There is a set menu for each time of the day. On the sheet of paper on the stand outside there are four columns; breakfast (until 12pm), lunch (until 5pm), dinner (after 5) and a list of drinks. There is no title or preferred time for any of these drinks, which is why one would often see fellow customers drinking glasses of house red whilst one might be ordering their morning coffee. This particular day, their coffee machine had broken. And I, who had visited this café the day before, decided that I had to work this café into my daily routine. I had hyped up this café to the point of hyperbole. I had constructed a new version of myself - not just my personality, but my spirit - that visits this café every day without fail; establishing close-bond relationships with the waitresses, and the baristas looking at me with a raised eyebrow presuming my order “cappuccino?”. Although their coffee machine had broken! It was the end of the world - my new world - as I knew it. I was informed that there were plenty of other options; soft drinks, minerals, white wines, red wines, champagnes, teas and pints. I was assured that they had plenty of wines, that they knew their wine well and had a great taste for such wine! However, the only wine I somewhat enjoy is that art wine that is eight euro in Dunnes and I only really like it because of the funny name. Even that I find hard to drink; the taste tickles the roof of my mouth and I can never swallow first try. Here, the house wine by glass cost more than my familiar art wine by bottle (even when it wasn’t on offer). I could never drink minerals or soft drinks, I’m not sure if they’re even the same thing or not. Nonetheless, we chose to drink a half pint of whatever they had just to take in the surroundings. As I sat in front of this odd-shaped glass trying to make conversation over the hustling and bustling, an epiphany occurred. I soon realised that I had drank a drink I barely knew just to sit at a certain table in a particular café on a precise street in town purely because I was so fixated on this place and exposing others to my discovery. That casual pint was enforced. Well, that’s maybe going too far. There were certain catalysts that led me to that casual pint. Having said that, pints that have been come across out of pure bewilderment or simply choice, are by far the most favoured casual pint of all.
Let me describe the scene. Our class has just ended. We stand for a minute at the Front Gate, waiting for another member of our group to hop off their bus. They decided to come, making last minute plans. I keep repeating the first person plural - we, us - there’s often three or four, maybe more, perhaps even two of us at this stage. We sit in a bar that we’ve only ever been to once to use the bathroom, because it’s a tourist trap with signs saying My Goodness, My Guinness and Irish flags plastered on any bare piece of wall. We sit there in a circle. This circle may seem to be a group of people conspiring whilst undercover to any onlooker; the way we are all bunched together, hunched over our pints and whispering what seems to be nothing. In reality we’re just discussing our class beforehand, our part-time jobs and our past experiences or passing thoughts. Before we head off to our regular, where we always find ourselves meeting someone new. They’re added to the long list of people that we’ve met while being in each other’s company. Someone always ends up buying a cocktail which shows up the Black Stuff aesthetically, but could never beat the taste. Then it’s time to leave and we share a group hug at Nassau Street, keeping warm whilst waiting for the 39A. Only to roam around Blackrock village, not near stocious but not exactly knowing what we’re doing either. As I fall asleep that night in a sleepy daze, a small crosses my face as I think of the next casual pints. Not just casual pints, but casual venture to a new café, and how beautiful these experiences are because they’re so casual, and that they wouldn’t be casual without these people in my life. These people who make the maddest, most unique occurrences feel so run-of-the-mill because it all happens to us everyday. https://youtu.be/ZqMIaaP4_s0