- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 November 7 , 2003 

Outside Eye: A non-Armenian's view of life in his adopted home

The world is a better place today. Sure 'tis, for, I am pleased to report, Guinness beer has come to Armenia. I am a simple man. This is a simple story.

At the corner of Nalbandian and Sayat Nova streets, the news was delivered by my new favorite bartenders, Aram and Sarkis in their new bar which I had approached with skepticism since the first day the sign lit up announcing "Irish Bar".

"We got Guinness today from Dublin," were the first words out of Aram's mouth when I entered Thursday night. He waved his beefy paw to the meticulously stocked backbar, and there like jewels in a case, were rows of Ireland's finest export: cans and cans of the "sev garejur", the black beer of the Emerald Island.

(Refer to sentence two, to understand why this makes me happy.)

A guy named Aram and one named Sarkis and a manager named Nune in an "Irish" bar called "Emile's" (I'll get to that later) on the corner of a street named for an Armenian poet and bard, were smiling like they'd just won the green card lottery. This alone made my first Yerevan Guinness no less sweet than if himself patron saint St. Patrick had served it as holy water.

These many years into my discovery of Armenia, I still get a chuckle over attempts here to duplicate world phenomena. It hasn't been so long ago that a restaurant calling itself "Acapulco" offered a "burrito" that was a Russian blinchik under a "salsa" of ketchup woven with mayonnaise. And gone, thankfully, are the days when "sausage pizza" was glorified lavash topped with sliced wieners.

I kind of miss the charm of near-miss reproduction now that Armenia is becoming more sophisticated. But the opening of its first "Irish" bar has managed to fill the "kitsch" gap in my twisted cultural appetite.

Culture clash begins at the appropriately green and gold-glassed door when you are welcomed to "Emile's" Irish bar.


I've been in more "Pat's" Irish bars than I care to (or can) remember. Plenty of "O'Reily's" and "Murphy's" and "O'Shaughnessy's" and, yes, in Dublin, "Hughes' Pub". Leave it to the Armenians to introduce me to one named "Emile's".

Emile's Irish Bar. Which brings me to this question: To say nothing of the Irish, when's the last time you met an Armenian named Emile?

You meet the bar's namesake in his photograph on the main inside wall. He looks to be about 2 years old, is dressed like a cowboy (speaking of culture clashes) and is holding a (German) beer stein larger than his cute head.

He is the grandson of the bar's owner and, bygoodness, if the Irish can put their own names on their bars, why can't an "Irish" bar in Armenia do the same, even if the name is neither Irish nor Armenian? (Have I ever told you that I once saw a pair of "Al Pacino" jeans here?)

At roughly $5.35 a can, not even the displaced and homesick here are likely to be clearing the bar's shelves of its Guinness, so the featured libation in the "Irish" bar is vodka. It is bottled exclusively for Armenia's first "Irish" bar and bears its own label - "Emile's".

(Sidebar: I'm staring down the barrel of age 50, and the only namesake a rowdy life has gotten me is that my name is slang for toilet. But a two year old Armenian gets his name on an "Irish" bar that has a house vodka under his own label. Life'll kill ya.)

There's also a house "Irish" wine, bottled and kegged a glance away from the six-inch letters proclaiming "Guinness Sold Here". You guessed it. The wine is called "Emile's".

So I'm sitting inside Emile's Irish Bar trying to figure what I can tell you about this bar and what it says about this place. This: It is perfect.

Go to Tbilisi and find Irish bars that look like they've been dumped out of a do-it-yourself Irish Pub kit. Find the same thing in Baku, where you can drink at "Flannigan's". Recently in Almaty, Kazakhstan I visited "Murphy's" Irish bar and in Istanbul drank on my birthday in the "James Joyce".

Pretenders, those are. The Irish, like the Armenians, are so stubbornly individualistic (collectively so, if that's possible) that they have suffered as a result.

So from those of us who have been waiting for a "real" Irish bar in Armenia, why shouldn't it have a name that defies tradition? Thank you, you little leprechaunian, Emile. I can't afford your Guinness. But I like your attitude.

According to Agnes
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Holy Land

The blessing of the territory for a new church in Masis took place this week. It will be the first dominical temple in this town (for years it has been populated by Azerbaijanis) and the second biggest after the St. Grigor Lusavorich in Yerevan. The construction is estimated at $1 million and is sponsored by "Vardanyan Family" foundation.



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