Happy Bloomsday! If you are not a Ulysses geek, click here for my previous post on why you should be.
As Leopold Bloom notes early on,
“Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub,” (Joyce Ulysses, 48),
so please note these tips and tricks for drinking in Ulysses, or 1904 Dublin:
1. For a quiet mid-day drink, try Davy Byrne’s, and make sure to claim your free drink every four years. Known as a “moral pub,” the barman Byrne doesn’t chat much but he
“stands a drink now and then. But in a leapyear once in four” (140).
2. Before ordering a drink, DO NOT check the time because Nosey Flynn, who has been sitting in the same nook since Dubliners’ “Counterparts,” will gab about it later:
“God Almighty couldn’t make [Bloom] drunk. Didn’t you see him look at his watch? Ah, you weren’t there. If you ask him to have a drink first thing he does he outs with the watch to see what he ought to imbibe. Declare to God he does” (146).
3. DO NOT order water or gingerpop in front of other patrons. Even if you have dyspepsia or are attempting sobriety, real Irishmen like Paddy Leonard still expect to stand a round:
“Paddy Leonard eyed his alemates. Lord love a duck, he said. Look at what I’m standing drinks to! Cold water and gingerpop! Two fellows that would suck whisky off a sore leg” (146).
4. DO NOT refuse a drink. Temperate behavior for any reason will arouse great suspicion and will be mocked incessantly by a nameless narrator:
“Bloom saying he wouldn’t and he couldn’t and excuse him no offence and all to that and then he said well he’d just take a cigar. Gob, he’s a prudent member and no mistake” (249).
5. Instead, always adhere to the accepted “treating behavior” – buy and accept drinks in somewhat equal quantities – and when someone at Barney Kiernan’s asks you:
“Can you make a hole in another pint?”
regardless of how many pints you’ve already had, just answer
“Could a swim duck?” [sic] (257).
Joyce, James. Ulysses (Gabler Edition) 1st (first) edition Text Only. New York: Random House, 1986.