Pat Nolan Blog

Paddy’s Peruvian Pub

They say there isn’t any corner of the world where you can’t find an Irish pub these days so when we came across ‘Paddy’s Pub’ in Cusco, darkest Peru, we were but mildly surprised.

And while the pub’s claim to be the ‘highest Irish pub in the world’ might have become a moot point to any Irish pub in Nepal, perhaps, the Cusco pub’s co-claim to be ‘100% Irish-owned’ had distinctly aroused our curiosity and so we stepped up the stairs to the first floor hostelry which sits on a prominent corner of Cusco’s main square, Playa de Armes, to investigate further.

We weren’t disappointed for on an otherwise ‘so-so’ Monday night in Cusco, Paddy’s pub was popping, full of tourists all of whom seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

Indeed the latter claim – to be ‘100% Irish-owned’ – is indupitably true as we met ‘Paddy’ himself, a County Sligo Irishman, who began working life on the cruise ships.

“This is the only square with anything happening in Cusco for the tourist,” he says by way of the crowded explanation, for the bar itself is small enough but could easily be described as ‘cosy’ by the harshest Irish bar critic.

The pub was established by the original owner in 1996, before Paddy bought it just two years ago.

It employs 17 full- and part-time staff (including seven full-time cooks) with food accounting for 20% to 30% of the pub’s turnover.

Open every night of the year, the only time the place closes might be for two nights during an election (so that no candidate can ‘influence’ voters with free drink in any pub in Peru – sound familiar?).

So what’s a genuine Irishman doing way out here in Peru?

“Well, I love the weather here for a start,” he tells us. But the bar also enjoys lots of Irish customers and Paddy says that he has the sense to stay out from behind the bar himself, leaving the easier-on-the-eye female bar staff to get on with selling Speckled Hen, the only beer available on draught and ‘draught Guinness’ in cans.

Cusco’s high altitude mitigates against using the draught variety – and anyway, who could supply him with kegs were it otherwise, he asks us, nor unreasonably?

Business at Paddy’s Pub is good for 11 months of the year but when the Inca Trail closes for one month every year, custom simply drops off, he explains.

Interestingly, while retaining the look of an Irish pub, all the furniture and bar fittings are manufactured locally  by Paddy’s carpenter ‘though he does source some Irish paraphernalia himself.

As we descend the stairs back to the mild weather on the streets (it’s Winter here), we can’t help but get the feeling that we’d love to have been a fly on the wall of Paddy’s Pub for just a little bit longer….


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