An Irish Pub With a Difference
June 4, 2015
Originally published in The Wall Street Journal
Filed under: Cocktails / Food & Dining
Tags: ,

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What's the perfect soundtrack for a bar on a Sunday at 5 p.m.?

At the Late Late in the Bowery, there's a playlist curated for specific time of each day. Sunday's early-evening mix is likely to feature Big Star, the Rolling Stones and the Talking Heads, for example.

The musical ambience at the Late Late comes courtesy of co-owner Robert Ackroyd, also known as the lead guitarist for Florence and the Machine. While on the road, he collects and sorts songs into a continuing bar-set list that's streamed via Spotify. Mr. Ackroyd estimates he's picked out around 10,000 songs for the rotation so far.

"I'm doing it naturally," Mr. Ackroyd said of his default method for sorting songs. "I'm constantly putting playlists together, constantly digging through the crates."

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The Late Late, named after a long-running Irish talk show, is designed to look like someone's Irish home, down to period wallpaper found on eBay.

It might be the only Irish pub in the city that doesn't serve pints of Guinness. It's served, but it arrives in a 12-ounce crystal goblet ($5).

There's also a dedicated Guinness cocktail list. The Black Velvet ($10), for example, pairs prosecco with the dark ale and is served in a Champagne flute. The Minty Fresh ($5), with Guinness and crème de menthe, is a take on how Nigerians, among the world's biggest Guinness consumers, drink their ale.

"We're shocked at the repeat orders for those Guinness cocktails," co-owner James Morrissey said.

Mr. Morrissey acknowledges that an Irish bar not serving pints of Guinness is something of a risk. But customers have so far welcomed the wide range of Guinness concoctions, which the bar has dubbed "Guinness 2.0."

Food offerings include the Ballymaloe Burger ($10), which features a gourmet Irish condiment made with stout beer. The Tayto Crisp Sambo ($8) is a high-low combination of a brioche bun, potato chips, pickles and cheddar mayo.

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"We wanted to take a dramatic standpoint in terms of the Irishness here at the bar," Mr. Morrissey said. He left his native Dublin to open the Late Late last year, and returns home about once a month.

"We don't agree with the stereotypical Irish pubs that exist in the city," he said. "They're not a true representation of Ireland."

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