Traghaven Whiskey Pub: Tivoli, NY
St. Patrick’s Day always poses a huge dilemma for me. As an avowed lover of all things Irish (literature, Guinness, The Book of Kells, The Chieftains) I feel compelled to celebrate the holiday attached to Ireland (though the original purpose has been somewhat diluted by its descent into drunken debaucheries), but my fear and dislike of crowds generally keeps me away from most festivities. Usually I am content to make corned beef and cabbage for Lew and pop open a stout.
Not this year. This year I discovered Traghaven Whiskey Pub in Tivoli. Calling itself “one of the most unexpected pubs in the Hudson Valley” and blessed with an enormous selection of Irish whiskeys, Traghaven naturally boasts a St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring food, music, and yes, drinks beginning at noon and lasting through the night. I convinced Lew to come along in time for the music which began at 2 pm, and we also invited our friend Kathy. After a week of grey and blustery weather, we commented on the gorgeous blue sky, temperatures in the 40s, and headed up the road about 6 miles to Tivoli. We figured if the place were packed (Tivoli is the hangout of many Bard students and the restaurants can get very busy) we would just turn around and go home…no harm, no foul.
Were we glad we took the chance! While I expect the scene to be somewhat different after the sun goes down, in the afternoon the pub was filled but not overflowing with adults “wearing the green” and behaving nicely.
We were led to a sunny table right next to the musicians (acoustic) and immediately greeted by a young server who gave us menus and took our drink orders.
The pub features 14 different beers on tap, l(ocal, domestic and international) ranging from Guinness to Miller Ale, and everything in between. Guinness for me, IPAs for Lew and Kathy. Traghaven claims to offer the largest selection of Irish whiskey in the United States.
We are not whiskey drinkers but we noted that in keeping with its authentic Irish roots, most of the patrons had either a Guinness or a whiskey in their hands.
We were given abbreviated menus geared to the holiday: corned beef & cabbage, burgers (meat and veggie options ), and shepherd’s pie (Lamb or vegetarian). Drinks arrived quickly and we settled back to listen to some terrific Irish music for a few hours.
While abbreviated, the menu was not lacking in quality. Kathy and Lew had burgers that were cooked precisely to order, accompanied by French fries (Lew’s) and salad (Kathy). Would you think me weird if I confessed to a week-long craving for Shepherd’s Pie? It’s not something I would make for dinner but was I delighted to see it on the menu. The server explained that the pie would be made in about 30 minutes, which was fine. And the owner/chef came out of the kitchen to explain “It will be worth the wait.” And it was. Tender, spicy ground lamb with peas and carrots, topped with crusty (not burnt) mashed potatoes. Irresistible.
A word about the service: impressive. The crowd increased throughout the afternoon, yet the servers never looked harried and were always attentive to every customer. The chef came out several times to see how we (and others) were liking their meal. Holidays, particularly ones featuring alcohol, can be tricky, but the staff of Traghaven excelled in making us feel welcome.
The bar features Irish music one Sunday evening a month. Their Facebook page is updated constantly and is a good place to find out about special events and menus. We’ll be back for more music and more of a taste from Ireland.
Know Before You Go:
If you’re in it just for food and drink, check or call before you head out. There are a lot of music evenings in addition to the monthly one.
Street parking is plentiful, though you may have to walk a bit.
Evenings feature a young Bardian vibe. Indeed, the small town of Tivoli is filled with students most evenings. If that’s not your scene, go another time.
Designate a driver if you’re going to imbibe. Police are around in the evening, usually parked at the corner of Broadway and 9G.