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Drinking With Irish Chef JP McMahon In Galway, Ireland


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Julita Brockway



Welcome to Galway, Ireland, a city renowned for its vibrant culture, rich history, and stunning natural landscapes. But beyond its picturesque streets and friendly locals, Galway also offers a tantalizing experience for food and travel enthusiasts. One of the highlights of exploring Galway’s culinary landscape is immersing yourself in the local drinking culture, where you can indulge in a wide array of beverages and discover the unique flavors of the region.


In this article, we have the pleasure of introducing you to JP McMahon, an esteemed Irish chef who is deeply passionate about Galway’s food and drink scene. From traditional Irish pubs to contemporary bars, craft breweries, and whiskey distilleries, we will join JP on a journey through Galway’s finest drinking establishments, uncovering the hidden gems and must-try libations along the way.


So, grab your glass and let’s embark on a culinary adventure, exploring Galway’s drinking scene with local expert JP McMahon as our guide. Whether you’re a beer aficionado, a whiskey connoisseur, or simply in search of a unique drinking experience, Galway has something to offer everyone.


But before we delve into the world of Galway’s beverages, let’s take a closer look at the background and charm of this captivating city.


Background of Galway, Ireland

Nestled on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is a vibrant and picturesque city with a rich history dating back centuries. Known as the “Cultural Heart of Ireland,” Galway is celebrated for its artistic heritage, lively festivals, and warm and welcoming atmosphere.


The city’s history can be traced back to the medieval times when it was a thriving trading port. Over the years, Galway has evolved into a bustling hub for music, theater, literature, and, of course, gastronomy. Its charming cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and stunning waterfront views make it the perfect setting for a memorable dining and drinking experience.


Galway is also renowned for its strong connection to the Gaelic language and Irish traditions. The city’s vibrant music scene showcases traditional Irish music, while its festivals, such as the Galway International Arts Festival and Galway Oyster Festival, attract visitors from around the world.


Furthermore, Galway’s location on the Wild Atlantic Way provides easy access to breathtaking natural landscapes, including the iconic Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. The combination of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and culinary delights makes Galway an enchanting destination for travelers seeking an authentic Irish experience.


Now that we have set the stage for our adventure, let’s meet JP McMahon, an Irish chef who is deeply passionate about Galway and all it has to offer in terms of food and drink.


Meet JP McMahon, an Irish Chef

JP McMahon is an acclaimed Irish chef who has made a significant impact on Galway’s culinary scene. Passionate about using local, sustainable ingredients, he has been at the forefront of promoting Irish cuisine and celebrating the region’s rich culinary heritage.


As the owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Aniar, located in the heart of Galway, JP McMahon has gained recognition for his innovative approach to food. His commitment to preserving traditional Irish flavors while incorporating modern techniques has garnered him numerous accolades and a dedicated following.


JP’s love for Galway goes beyond the kitchen. He is deeply connected to the city and its vibrant food and drink culture. With a refined palate and vast knowledge of Galway’s drinking establishments, JP is the perfect guide to explore the city’s diverse libations.


His expertise and passion for his craft have led him to become an ambassador for Galway’s culinary scene, promoting local producers, educating others about Irish cuisine, and showcasing the unique flavors that the region has to offer.


JP’s knowledge extends beyond the boundaries of his restaurant. He hosts food events and workshops, sharing his insights with aspiring chefs and food enthusiasts. Through his efforts, he continues to elevate Galway’s reputation as a must-visit destination for food and drink aficionados.


Now, let’s join JP McMahon as he takes us on an immersive journey through Galway’s drinking scene, uncovering the hidden gems and highlighting the best that this vibrant city has to offer.


Exploring Galway’s Drinking Scene

Galway’s drinking scene is as diverse as it is vibrant, offering a plethora of options for those seeking a unique and enjoyable experience. From traditional Irish pubs to contemporary bars, craft breweries, and whiskey distilleries, the city has something for everyone.


When it comes to traditional Irish pubs, Galway has no shortage of charming establishments that exude an authentic atmosphere. These cozy pubs are the perfect place to enjoy a pint of Guinness or a glass of whiskey while immersing yourself in the warmth and hospitality of the locals. Popular spots like Tig Coili, Tigh Neachtain, and The Quays offer live music sessions, creating a lively ambiance that truly captures the spirit of Irish culture.


For those who prefer a more contemporary setting, Galway has a burgeoning cocktail scene with bars that boast creative mixologists and innovative drink menus. Places like The Secret Garden, Tribeton, and The Universal offer a sophisticated and trendy atmosphere where you can enjoy expertly-crafted cocktails using locally sourced ingredients.


If beer is your beverage of choice, Galway’s craft breweries are a must-visit. One of the most notable breweries in the city is Galway Bay Brewery, known for its wide selection of craft beers with unique flavors and styles. Taking a guided tour of the brewery allows you to learn about the brewing process and sample their award-winning beers.


Galway is also home to a burgeoning whiskey industry, with distilleries that showcase the rich history and craftsmanship of Irish whiskey. The Micil Distillery, named after a traditional poitín-making family, offers tours where you can discover the secrets behind their premium single pot still whiskey. The tours provide a fascinating insight into the distillation process, and of course, include a tasting of their exceptional spirits.


As we continue our journey through Galway’s drinking scene, we will explore even more unique and memorable experiences. From whiskey tastings to hidden speakeasies, there’s always something exciting and enticing awaiting the curious traveler.


So, get ready to raise your glass and join us as we dive into the enchanting world of Galway’s drinking culture, led by the expertise of JP McMahon.


Traditional Irish Pubs in Galway

When it comes to experiencing the true essence of Irish drinking culture, a visit to the traditional pubs of Galway is an absolute must. These establishments, steeped in history and brimming with charm, offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of Ireland.


One such pub is Tig Coili, located in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter. Known for its lively atmosphere and traditional music sessions, Tig Coili is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Grab a pint of Guinness or a glass of whiskey and immerse yourself in the infectious energy as talented musicians fill the air with the sounds of Irish music.


Tigh Neachtain is another iconic pub that exudes old-world charm. Its cozy interior with wooden beams, stone walls, and a crackling fireplace creates a warm and inviting ambiance. Sit back, relax, and savor the moment as you enjoy a perfectly poured pint of Guinness or choose from their impressive selection of Irish whiskey.


The Quays Bar, located on Quay Street, is a historic pub that has been serving thirsty patrons since the 1600s. With its traditional facade and live music sessions that bring the bar to life, The Quays is a beloved spot to enjoy a drink while soaking in the lively atmosphere of Galway’s vibrant streets.


While these traditional pubs offer a classic experience, they also embrace the modern by introducing contemporary twists to their offerings. Some establishments now showcase small craft breweries within their walls, allowing patrons to sample a variety of locally brewed beers while still immersing themselves in the authentic pub atmosphere.


With its friendly staff, warm hospitality, and a welcoming ambiance, Galway’s traditional pubs capture the true essence of Ireland’s drinking culture. Whether you’re a whiskey aficionado, a beer lover, or simply seeking a lively and memorable night out, these pubs provide the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable drinking experience.


Join us as we continue to explore Galway’s drinking scene, where our next stop will take us to the contemporary bars and cocktail lounges that offer a more modern twist to the city’s libations.


Contemporary Bars and Cocktail Lounges

While traditional Irish pubs hold a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors, Galway is also home to a thriving scene of contemporary bars and cocktail lounges. These establishments offer a more modern and sophisticated drinking experience, showcasing innovative mixology and stylish ambiance.


The Secret Garden, tucked away in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter, is a hidden gem known for its inventive cocktails and secluded courtyard. With its lush greenery, twinkling lights, and cozy seating, The Secret Garden provides an enchanting atmosphere where you can enjoy expertly crafted drinks infused with local flavors and ingredients.


Tribeton is a stylish and elegant bar that seamlessly blends art deco aesthetics with modern touches. Its extensive cocktail menu features both classic and inventive concoctions, prepared with precision and flair by talented mixologists. Pair your drink with a delectable dish from their food offerings and bask in the contemporary sophistication of the venue.


The Universal is a chic and trendy cocktail lounge, known for its stylish decor, dim lighting, and skillfully crafted drinks. The bar’s talented bartenders use premium spirits and fresh ingredients to create unique and flavorful cocktails that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. The Universal’s sleek and intimate setting provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable evening of indulgence.


These contemporary bars and cocktail lounges offer a refreshing departure from the traditional pub experience, showcasing the creativity and craftsmanship of Galway’s mixologists. Whether you prefer a classic cocktail or a unique creation, these establishments guarantee a sophisticated and memorable drinking experience.


Join us as we continue our exploration of Galway’s drinking scene, where we shift our focus to craft breweries and beer tastings, a paradise for beer enthusiasts and those looking to savor the flavors of Galway’s local brews.


Craft Breweries and Beer Tastings

If you’re a beer enthusiast or simply appreciate the art of brewing, Galway’s craft breweries are sure to delight your taste buds. The city is home to a thriving craft beer scene, where local brewers showcase their passion and creativity, resulting in a diverse range of beers with unique flavors and styles.


One of the most renowned craft breweries in Galway is Galway Bay Brewery. With multiple venues across the city, including the Galway Bay Brewpub and The Oslo Bar, they offer a wide selection of their own craft beers, as well as a curated collection of guest brews. From hoppy IPAs to rich stouts and refreshing lagers, Galway Bay Brewery has something to suit every beer lover’s palate.


A visit to the brewery is highly recommended, as it provides a fascinating glimpse into the brewing process. Take a guided tour and learn about the history and techniques behind their brews, from the sourcing of ingredients to the fermentation process. Of course, no visit is complete without indulging in a sampling of their exceptional beers. The knowledgeable staff will guide you through a tasting experience, allowing you to fully appreciate the flavors and nuances of each brew.


In addition to Galway Bay Brewery, other notable craft breweries in Galway include The Burren Brewery and Galway Hooker Brewery. Each brewery has its own distinct character and offers a range of delicious beers that showcase the talent and creativity of Galway’s brewers.


To delve deeper into the world of craft beer, you can also join beer tastings and events hosted by various bars and breweries throughout Galway. These intimate gatherings allow you to sample a variety of beers, learn about different styles, and gain insights into the brewing process directly from the experts. It’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge and palate while surrounded by fellow beer enthusiasts.


Galway’s craft breweries and beer tastings offer a unique and immersive experience for those seeking to explore the diverse flavors and craftsmanship of the local beer scene. Join us as we continue our journey through Galway’s drinking culture, where our next stop will take us to the fascinating world of whiskey distilleries.


Galway’s Whiskey Distilleries

For whiskey connoisseurs and aficionados, Galway is a haven for discovering the rich history and exquisite flavors of Irish whiskey. The city is home to several distilleries that offer captivating tours and tastings, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the world of whiskey production.


One prominent distillery in Galway is the Micil Distillery, named after a traditional poitín-making family. The Micil family has been crafting spirits for generations, and their distillery provides an opportunity to learn about the art of distillation and the meticulous process behind their exceptional single pot still whiskey. During a distillery tour, you’ll gain insight into the heritage and traditions that go into every bottle and may even have the chance to sample their premium spirits.


Another renowned distillery in the area is The Shed Distillery, located just outside of Galway. This award-winning distillery produces Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, a unique spirit infused with botanicals sourced from around the world. Visitors can explore the distillery, learn about the meticulous gin-making process, and sample the distinct flavors of this innovative Irish gin.


While Galway is not home to a whiskey distillery in the traditional sense, its proximity to the Connemara region offers whiskey enthusiasts the opportunity to venture beyond the city boundaries. Just a short drive away is the Connemara Distillery, known for producing peated Irish whiskey. A visit to the distillery provides a chance to witness the whiskey-making process, discover the distinct flavors of peated whiskey, and appreciate the stunning natural surroundings that lend character to this unique spirit.


These whiskey distilleries offer more than just a tasting experience. They provide an educational and interactive journey that delves into the history, craftsmanship, and stories behind Ireland’s renowned spirits. Whether you’re a whiskey connoisseur or simply curious about the art of distilling, a visit to Galway’s whiskey distilleries is sure to leave you with a newfound appreciation for the world of Irish whiskey.


As our exploration of Galway’s drinking scene continues, we’ll uncover even more unique and memorable experiences, from hidden speakeasies to one-of-a-kind drinking establishments. So, raise your glass and join us as we dive deeper into Galway’s fascinating drinking culture.


Unique Drinking Experiences in Galway

Galway is a city that prides itself on offering a range of unique and unforgettable drinking experiences. From hidden speakeasies to quirky themed bars, there are plenty of unconventional options for those seeking a one-of-a-kind night out in Galway.


The Blind Pig is a speakeasy-style bar tucked away behind an unmarked door, reminiscent of the Prohibition era. This secret establishment transports you back in time, offering a clandestine atmosphere where you can enjoy expertly crafted cocktails in a cozy setting. Reservations are recommended, as the intimate space adds to the allure and exclusivity of this hidden gem.


For whiskey enthusiasts with a sense of adventure, The Dáil Bar is a must-visit. This unique bar is the first-ever to offer customers the opportunity to purchase a cask of whiskey, allowing you to become a whiskey connoisseur and create your own signature blend. With personalized barrels kept on-site, you’ll have the chance to return to the bar and enjoy your custom-crafted whiskey on subsequent visits.


If you’re a gin lover, a visit to the iconic An Púcán is a must. This renowned bar boasts an impressive selection of over 200 gins from around the world. From classic London dry gins to innovative craft varieties, you can embark on a gin-tasting journey like no other. The knowledgeable bar staff can guide you through the vast selection, helping you discover new flavors and find your perfect gin cocktail.


Galway also offers immersive drinking experiences that combine history, entertainment, and libations. The Galway City Tour offers a unique twist on exploring the city’s drinking culture. Led by experienced guides, this entertaining walking tour takes you to some of Galway’s most iconic pubs and provides fascinating insights into the city’s history and drinking traditions.


For those seeking a taste of Galway’s creative side, pop-up bars and events are frequent occurrences. These temporary, themed drinking establishments often dedicated to specific concepts or celebrations, offer a chance to indulge in unique cocktails and mingle with like-minded enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for these events, as they offer a limited-time opportunity to experience something truly distinctive.


From hidden speakeasies to personalized whiskey tastings and themed pop-up bars, Galway offers a myriad of unique drinking experiences that cater to all preferences. Venture off the beaten path and discover the city’s hidden gems as you embark on a truly unforgettable drinking adventure.


As our exploration of Galway’s drinking culture comes to a close, we invite you to savor the memories and raise your glass to the diverse and vibrant world of beverages that this enchanting city has to offer.



Galway, Ireland is a city that embraces its rich culinary heritage and offers a truly unforgettable drinking experience. From traditional Irish pubs to contemporary bars, craft breweries, whiskey distilleries, and unique drinking experiences, Galway has something to captivate every food and travel enthusiast.


Throughout our journey, we’ve had the pleasure of exploring Galway’s diverse drinking scene alongside the expertise of JP McMahon, an esteemed Irish chef deeply connected to the city’s food and drink culture.


We’ve taken a step back in time, immersing ourselves in the charm of traditional Irish pubs, where the warm hospitality and lively music sessions create an authentic atmosphere that can’t be replicated anywhere else.


We’ve ventured into contemporary bars and cocktail lounges, where skilled mixologists create innovative concoctions that highlight the flavors of Galway, infusing locally sourced ingredients into every glass.


We’ve indulged in the world of craft breweries, savoring the unique flavors and styles of Galway’s local brews, while gaining a deeper understanding of the craftsmanship behind each pint.


We’ve explored the art of whiskey making at Galway’s distilleries, uncovering the secrets and traditions that make Irish whiskey renowned worldwide.


And finally, we’ve discovered the delight of unique drinking experiences, from hidden speakeasies to themed bars, where imagination and creativity blend seamlessly with the pleasures of the imbibing.


Galway’s drinking scene is a testament to the city’s vibrant culture, blending a rich history with modern innovation. It’s an invitation to savor the flavors, raise a glass in celebration, and immerse oneself in the traditions and stories that make Galway a truly special place.


So, whether you’re a local looking to uncover new gems or a traveler seeking an authentic Irish experience, Galway awaits with open arms and a wide array of libations to satisfy even the most discerning palate.


Cheers to Galway, a city where food, spirits, and memories intertwine to create an unforgettable journey for all who embark upon its vibrant drinking scene!