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.
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.