It was the luck of the Irish on a recent Sunday when I met my husband to relax at Shenannigan’s, a spacious and lively pub located near the busy intersection of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Sheridan Drive in Amherst.
We were greeted by Ashley, one of the most genial, efficient and helpful bartenders I’ve encountered in a long time. Since Dan and I were in a pub and a couple of pigskin games were on the docket, we decided to change our usual wine and gin routine and explore some different options.
Settling in to a quiet back area, Dan ordered a bottle of Blue and I asked Ashley for a recommendation on a drink she would call authentic to Shenannigan’s. When she mentioned a “Pickleback,” I was intrigued and ready for a new experience.
Knowing that I better order something to eat since we were ravenous and didn’t want to drink on an empty stomach, I ordered a turkey avocado wrap and a basket of fries, which Ashley highly recommended. “When I started working here, I gained 10 pounds because of those fries,” she said.
Dan wanted to try the Guinness BBQ Burger, a big-boy fresh sirloin patty with homemade sauce made from that famous brew. The burger had a topping of cheddar and jack cheeses and bacon, and it rested on a bed of fried onions. A second beer was in order to accompany this meal in a bun, and before we knew it, Ashley had Dan’s second Blue on the table.
Shortly after, the intriguing Pickleback arrived. It consists of a shot of Jameson followed by a separate shot of pickle juice ($4). The whiskey was smooth and any edge was quickly negated by the tangy juice. Wow! I can’t wait to have another Pickleback, a unique and fun drink that was surprisingly delicious. It went well with those addicting fries, a decadent treat to be sure. The spuds are breaded and fried, resulting in a crunchy burst of steam when biting into them.
In the adjacent areas, groups of friends gathered around high-top tables enjoying buckets of beer and cheering on the AFC and NFC gridiron gladiators. Plenty of flat-screen TVs are situated throughout the pub, nicely decorated with pastel walls and Irish decorations: Michael Collins, Bushmill and Guinness mirrors. A framed Irish declaration adorned another wall. When I visited the restroom, I learned something there, too. “Mna” is Irish for “Women,” while “Fir” translates to “Men.” Fortunately the English version was also noted on the door.
In another area, a spirited dart game was taking place among a group of regulars from Tonawanda. “This is the type of place you can come to and not know a single person, but you’ll feel right at home by the end of the night,” said Katie, a neighborhood regular. Her favorite drink is the “Bitchin’ Buffalo,” similar to a Long Island Iced Tea without the tequila.
Other custom-made drinks include the Irish Car Bomb ($5.25), Guinness in a pint glass, filled with shots of Jameson and Bailey’s. The Bat Man, Ashley advised, is also growing in popularity. It features Captain Morgan Rum and Coke in a pint glass followed by shots of vanilla vodka, Frangelico and root beer vodka.
Ashley and another bartender kept busy at the U-shaped bar, serving their customized cocktails and plenty of suds. They even offer Redbridge, a gluten-free beer that Ashley said is quite popular.
On a cold night, Shenannigan’s was a warm spot filled with friendly people of all ages, tasty and unique drinks and hearty pub grub. It celebrates its fourth year in business this month.
May Irish eyes smile upon it!
Shenannigan’s Bar & Grill
Where: 1009 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst (748-8884)
Scene: A friendly Irish pub that combines fun, food and many spirits inspired by the Old Sod.
Drinks: Wide variety of beer, including “The Perfect Pint” of Guinness, Jameson, creative cocktails and shot combos.
Specials: Happy hour Monday through Friday. On Sundays, Sabres specials include a bucket of five beers for $12.
Dress Code: Casual.
Music: Live music every Saturday, Touch Tunes jukebox located in bar.
Theme nights: Poker Night every Wednesday, DJ Trivia every Thursday.