November 10, 2011

Bar Guide: Mulligan's Irish pub: Friendly, creative, inexpensive

By EMMA BOUTHILLETTE

Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name.

20111101_BarGuide
click image to enlarge

Tim Roberge sets a fast pace behind the bar at Mulligan’s in Biddeford.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

MULLIGAN'S

WHERE: 23 Lincoln St., Biddeford

PHONE: 284-9283

WEBSITE: mulligansbiddeford.com

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

PARKING: On street and in a lot across the street.

SCENE: It's a casual pub where friends come to relax and families come to dine. There are booths for dining and a few bar tables, plus bar seating with cushioned high-back bar stools.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Four free pool tables and free popcorn.

For me, that means going to Mulligan’s.

Situated at the edge of Biddeford’s mill district, the Irish pub is just off the beaten path and a hub for locals. It’s a casual place where families come to dine and friends meet for drinks. And even if the bartender doesn’t remember your name after a few visits, he’ll likely remember what you drink.

On a recent Tuesday evening, I stopped in for what has become my usual there – Sweet Carolina Sweet Tea Vodka and soda water with a lemon. The bar offers a great specialty drink called “The Jon Daly,” which mixes that vodka with Pinnacle Blueberry Vodka and lemonade. I’ve tried the cocktail before and liked it, but it’s very sweet, and I was more in the mood for cold and crisp.

The staff – from host to servers and bartenders – is very friendly, and service is quick. Owner George Sharkey said there’s little turnover in staff and that some employees have worked for him for more than 10 years.

Sharkey opened Mulligan’s in 1997 and not much has changed since then, he said, including a large food menu that has nothing for more than $5. Many who are familiar with their dinners rave about the $4.99 prime rib special on Wednesday nights.

The drinks are reasonably priced, too. Stop by between 2 and 5 p.m. for happy hour during the week, and get domestic beers for $1.75 and well drinks for $2.95. Outside those hours, prices vary from $2.75 for draft domestic beers to $7 for the most expensive liquor drinks.

For beer drinkers, there’s a selection of 30 draft and bottled brews, including seasonal Shipyard, which may soon be transitioning from Pumpkinhead to Prelude. A specialty drink menu also includes specialty shots such as the “Irish Car Bomb,” a mixed shot of whiskey and Irish cream dropped into a half pint of Guinness.

Don’t know what you want to drink? Challenge a bartender and pick a color. I’ve seen some of the night bartenders come up with some pretty fancy, pretty colorful beverages that always delight.
Tuesday night was quiet, but if you go around dinnertime (especially on a Friday or Saturday), it’s bustling. Staff will agree that the bar’s two busiest nights of the year are the night before Thanksgiving, because it’s a reunion spot for everyone who comes home for the holiday, and St. Patrick’s Day.

Even though I went to the bar alone, I never felt lonely, because the bartender and even fellow patrons made you feel like they were glad you came.  

Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.

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