Rí Rá bartender keeps it real
By Kiko Miyasato
There’s a certain stereotype about the Irish and alcohol consumption, but take it from Irishman Paul Walsh: Sin City stacks up quite nicely. “I will honestly say that I used to think people back home drank more, but people in Vegas can hang!” said the bartender at Rí Rá inside The Shoppes at Mandalay Place.
Walsh, who goes by the name “Junior,” was born and raised in Cork, Ireland, but has been in the United States for almost eight years, first landing in Atlantic City, N.J., to open an outpost of Rí Rá, the Irish pub chain. After six years there, Walsh moved to Las Vegas and helped open the Mandalay Place location last year.
“I love working in Las Vegas because the people, especially the locals, are phenomenal and so welcoming. … The diversity of people is really cool, too; I love the energy of the (city).” And if Walsh ever misses the comforts of home, that’s no problem, as most of the Rí Rá staff is from Ireland. The pub also serves traditional Irish dishes and enough Irish whiskey and Guinness to keep anyone happy. “This is it, just like being in Dublin; this is exactly what you’ll see,” he said. Even the interior design, all the woodwork of the front bar, was taken from a pub in West Cork, Ireland.
In Vegas there are plenty of Irish pubs, but “what gives us the edge is definitely the staff being from back home and the décor being shipped from Ireland and any given day—morning, noon or night—there’s going to be five to 10 Irish people walking about the place.”
Do you want the full Irish drinking experience, but don’t quite have the palate to stomach the strong stuff? Then try out any of Rí Rá’s signature summer cocktails. The Jameson rhubarb sour is shaken over ice with Jameson Irish whiskey, rhubarb syrup and a squeeze of lemon, then topped off with sour mix. Garnished with a slice of rhubarb, the cocktail is a twist on a traditional whiskey sour. “Not just whiskey drinkers will like it, but anyone who likes a cool, strong drink will like it,” Walsh said.