A Vegas Visit From Irish Whiskey Ambassador Tim Herlihy

Tim Herlihy gained worldwide notoriety when he set a Guinness World Record for the Largest Irish Coffee in 2017 and followed that feat with a quest to visit the best pubs in all 50 states in the U.S.—which he managed to do in 30 days. In his role as Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey’s national brand ambassador, he has appeared on national television shows including Steve Harvey, Access Hollywood Live and Fox & Friends. During a recent stop in Las Vegas in advance of St. Patrick’s Day, I sat down with Herlihy at ReBAR in the Arts District to learn about his exploits, the Irish whiskey he represents and his thoughts on what makes a pub worthy of your patronage.

Tim Herlihy

Herlihy was born and raised in Termonfeckin, Ireland, where, before landing his ambassador gig, he worked on his family’s egg farm with more than 80,000 hens, but had always been a whiskey fan. His ambassadorship, in which he has served for six years, entails traveling from city to city explaining the story of how Tullamore D.E.W. is made and hosting various events. Regarding Irish whiskey, Tim classifies it as being smooth and bright and being a blend of three distillates: grain (sweet, light and delicate); malt (bearing citrus fruit notes); and pot still (imparting a creamy, thick and peppery mouthfeel). He suggests that Tullamore D.E.W. Original measures up ideally as it is a complex drink due to being a combination of all three and is a blend of whiskeys aged for 4–7 years in ex- bourbon, sherry and Irish whiskey casks. Similarly, the 14-Year is aged in ex-bourbon and finished in a combination of ex- port, sherry and Madeira wine casks for two to six months before being combined. The company also comes out with new expressions each quarter; currently available is the XO Rum Cask, aged 4–6 months in ex-rum casks from the Caribbean, resulting in rummy raisin and ripe banana notes.

As for where to enjoy these delights, Herlihy’s description of an ideal Irish pub includes having a design to encourage conversation (no TVs; conversational noise only), being narrow so as to force people to congregate, having a story on every wall (paraphernalia), a good selection of Irish whiskey and having no pretentiousness but offering hospitality and a friendly atmosphere. While ReBAR is not an Irish pub, in Tim’s estimation it does measure up as a quality pub worth frequenting, and he praises for its narrow entry area, myriad interesting knickknacks adorning its walls (all of which are for sale) and for serving Tullamore D.E.W. on tap along with a well-rounded beer selection including an assortment of local brews from Bad Beat, Big Dog’s, CraftHaus, Joseph James and Tenaya Creek, as his preferred drink is a D.E.W. and a brew.

Herlihy’s Guinness World Record actually had a Las Vegas connection. The 234 gallons of coffee—enough to pour 3,500 Irish coffees at Fado Bar & Restaurant in Chicago—were poured into a six-and-a-half-foot diameter acrylic vessel crafted by Acrylic Tank Manufacturing, a local aquarium tank company known for its Tanked reality TV show.

He also shared some Irish St. Patrick’s Day tidbits, such as the day being a public holiday (with schools, government offices and many businesses being closed) and abbreviated as St. Paddy’s Day (never Patty, as that is a girl’s name); there is no green beer to found anywhere; and that corned beef is strictly an Irish-American tradition (in Ireland, they combine their cabbage with bacon).

During our visit, I presented Herlihy with a 10-question quiz on St. Patrick’s Day. Interestingly, on several occasions he has given others similar quizzes, but said this was the first time he himself had been put on the spot to test his knowledge. He fared quite well, scoring 90 percent on the quiz, which was quite challenging.(Nearly every American would not know more than one or two of the answers. See below for the quiz/answers and how Tim fared.) For more of Tim’s anecdotes, check out the March 17 edition of Fox & Friends, where he will talk about how to celebrate (and survive) St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day Quiz

(Tim missed questions 2 and 5, but got the bonus question right to give him his impressive score.)

Was Saint Patrick Irish? If not, where was he from?
Saint Patrick was British. He was born to Roman parents in Wales in the late-fourth century.

What is St. Patrick’s real name?
His birth name was Maewyn Succat, but he changed his name to Patricius after becoming a priest.

Where was the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade held and in what year?
New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which debuted in 1762.

How did the association with the color green come about and what color was originally associated with St. Patrick’s Day?
His color was “Saint Patrick’s blue,” a light shade. The color green now represents the Irish flag, the shamrock and the color leprechauns wear.

Why do we pinch people for not wearing green?
It is thought wearing green makes one invisible to leprechauns, so people pinch those not wearing green as a reminder that leprechauns will sneak up and pinch green abstainers.

Why do we drink (and drink so much) on St. Patrick’s Day?
Christians are allowed to put aside their Lenten restrictions on food and alcohol consumption on this day, which is why excessive drinking has become so permanently linked to the celebration.

What happened on March 17 that is actually being celebrated?
It’s the day St. Patrick died.

How did the shamrock become associated with Saint Patrick?
According to Irish legend, the saint used the three-leafed plant as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland.

How did St. Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland?
This is a trick question. While legend has it that the Irish saint got rid of the reptiles, according to the fossil record, Ireland has never been home to any snakes and is too cold to host any reptiles. Modern scholars think the “snakes” St. Patrick drove away were likely metaphorical.

What kind of corn is in corned beef?
Corned beef and cabbage, a traditional St. Patrick’s Day staple, doesn’t have anything to do with the grain corn. Instead, it refers to large grains of salt that were historically used to cure meats, which were also known as “corns.”

Bonus Question: What green-hued celebration is held in Chicago on every St. Patrick’s Day since 1962?
The city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by dumping green dye into the Chicago River, turning the river a fluorescent green for up to five hours.

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