Joan Desadora spends a lot of time keeping her pub, The Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs, as Irish as Irish can be.
With 32 years of experience under her belt, she feels she’s got the thing perfected.
“I wanted a traditional Irish pub,” she said Sunday afternoon. “I import all our bacon and sausage. We only play traditional Irish music. We haven’t strayed from that tradition.”
A few bars of “Drunken Sailor” complete with sallies of table-thumping audience participation pounded through her heavily soundproofed office door.
The cozy rooms and Guinness-dark oak bar of The Parting Glass were jammed with customers Sunday afternoon for the pub’s 32nd birthday party — all of them happily eating shepherd’s pie or corned beef and cabbage, nearly all with a dark draught alongside.
Local band Forthlin Road played some up-tempo jigs.
“We came for the food,” said Bob Mitchell, who brought his wife, Carol, from Ballston Spa, “but this band was so good we figured we’d stay till they were down.”
It was a prosperous day for Desadora and not unusual for the pub.
“When we started up in ’81, we were the only place in the county serving Guinness,” she said. “People told us, ‘you’ll never sell that black stuff.’ ”
She laughed at that, pointing out her average Saturday night sees the consumption of roughly 1,000 pints of the stuff. She credits her success to a commitment to Celtic tradition, which is odd considering she’s Italian.
Back in the day, she purchased the old Rocco’s Grill for its dark wood and homey character.
“The water in the cellar was up to here,” she said, motioning to her upper shin. “It was just right.”
Since then, she traveled to Ireland many times to the kitchens of housewives, mastering the finer points of corned beef preparation.
The little stage has been home to such acts as the Fureys and Clancy Brothers, groups many Americans may not recognize but are household names in the old country.
“We even have regulars,” she said, pointing out a friendly guy in a cowboy hat as Dougie. “If he wasn’t here, we’d call and see if he was sick.”
Even the birthday celebration was set in early afternoon so families could come because “Irish pubs are community gathering places.”
Walking in to a warm greeting from Dougie, the smell of dark ale and lilting sea shanties, it seems the Italian woman has indeed mastered Celtic ambience. Roughly 190,000 readers of Irish of the Welcomes, an international magazine published in Dublin, just voted the Parting Glass third best Irish pub in the world, which suggests many others agree.
“Not even close,” said Gavin Faulkner in a brogue untouched by 16 years in Saratoga Springs.
Faulkner sat on the porch outside, enjoying a smoke with friends.
“It’s not an Irish pub,” he said, tapping the ash from his cigarette.
It seemed a bit harsh at first, but he was quick to point out that he really likes the place. If anything, The Parting Glass is too Irish to be truly Irish. Since Desadora started her business, pubs have changed.
“You walk into 99 percent of pubs over there, music like this isn’t playing,” he said. “You’ve got the day’s races on [TV] or maybe some rugby.”
Current Ireland sounds more sports bar than pub, but for those looking for a shot of old Ireland, The Parting Glass is open.