The diverse crowd that recently turned out to celebrate the bar’s 17th year in business would probably be surprised to hear that one commenter on Yelp, when asked about the best place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, expressed his opinion that “Irish bar” is often code for “white.” As if to drive home The Mucky Duck’s sense of inclusiveness, there’s a copy of Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis’ classic WWII recruitment poster mixed in with the 49ers posters and shamrocks adorning the bar’s walls. But when Army veteran Michael Morse became the bar’s manager in 2005, he said, it had a bit of a rough reputation. “My goal when I started was to make it the kind of place my sisters could walk into by themselves and feel safe,” Morse said. Though next-door neighbor Howard’s Cafe normally delivers food to the bar, The Mucky Duck’s owner, Jason Baker, will commemorate St. Paddy’s by serving his famous homemade corned beef and cabbage buffet during the day Sunday.
BAR INFO: 1315 Ninth Ave. • (415) 661-4340 • www.muckyduckpub.com
Check out other great bars to visit on St. Patrick's Day below the interview.
What’s the story behind your bar’s funny name?
The Mucky Duck is actually a British tradition. If you have a bar called The Raven or The Black Swan or The Golden Goose, for example, it gets colloquially corrupted to The Mucky Duck or The Dirty Bird because that’s where you went and got dirty.
Is that a bit of an Irish accent you have?
I may tend to pick up a bit of my customers’ accents, but no, I’m from southeast Massachusetts.
Will you be serving green beer on St. Patrick’s Day?
No way. We do, however, have one regular customer, a fellow named Walter, who’s infamous for bringing green food coloring. If I’m working, I always make a game of stealing his food coloring, so he brings several bottles!
Where did you learn to tend bar?
I worked in a bar in the north Bronx called The Jolly Tinker that was frequented by cops and firemen. While I was there, I did a couple years of undergrad work at Fordham University.
What was your military service like?
After high school, I joined the Army in the late ’90s. I dodged the deserts, but wound up in Bosnia on an extended camping trip. It was pretty easy because we were a peacekeeping force. There were some riots there as we were replacing figureheads with figureheads, but nothing too serious. It’s a beautiful country, but you could tell the war really did take its toll.
What beers should your customers be aware of?
We have 20 beers on tap. My feeling is, why pour Newcastle when you can pour a British-style brown ale that’s made down the street? We have Death & Taxes, from the Moonlight Brewing Co. in Sonoma County. The owner [Brian Hunt] is a mad man who only does kegs, no bottles or cans, and he delivers the beer himself. He doesn’t trust anybody to touch it! Another great one we have is Tricerahops Double IPA, from the Ninkasi Brewing Co. in Eugene, Ore. At first I thought that was a Japanese name, but I did a little research and learned that Ninkasi is the Sumerian goddess of beer. Another good Oregon beer we have is Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery. I’m also excited about Moose Drool Brown Ale, from the Big Sky Brewing Co. in Montana. It’s everything Newcastle wishes it could be.
Other good spots for enjoying St. Patrick’s Day:
The Irish Bank Bar & Restaurant
10 Mark Lane
(415) 788-7152, www.theirishbank.com
Harrington’s Bar & Grill
245 Front St.
(415) 392-7595, www.harringtonsbarandgrill.com
The Napper Tandy
3200 24th St.
3920 Geary Blvd.
The Blarney Stone
5625 Geary Blvd.