Tim McCarthy: McCarthy’s Pub(s)

McCarthy Pubs

Tim McCarthy is mixing up story-slingers, step dancers, bettors, pipe players, townies and old-schoolers…they’re all just part of the clan. image: niko krommydas

Since his father retired, Tim McCarthy has been running the family’s namesake pub that his dad opened in 1973. As St. Patrick’s Day approached, he shared fond memories of the familial Irish watering hole and the secret to its longevity—it’s mixology on a social level, like heers, where everybody knows your name.

Long Island Pulse: It’s March, so we need to ask: How would you describe St. Patrick’s Day at McCarthy’s?
Tim McCarthy: The best, craziest day of the year. It wipes everybody out too, because the next day is usually dead here. [Laughs.] Lots of Irish Mist and Jameson, lots of Guinness flowing. Boatloads of corned beef and cabbage are going out. We have the Irish dancers and the bagpipers come. It’s funny because growing up, before I was married, I would always say one day my kids are gonna be doing the dancing here on St. Patrick’s Day. And now it’s true, my daughter and her friends are now the step dancers. It’s funny how some things come full circle.

Pulse: What memories of the bar do you have with your father and the regulars?
McCarthy: I remember being about 10 and coming to work with my father. I would clean the tables, stuff like that. [There] was a crew that would get here at six in the morning every day like clockwork. My father called them “The Breakfast Club.” They would sit and share stories of betting the horses, who drank what and how much the night before…they were real old-school guys. I loved to listen to them.

Pulse: Your family has a long history in the pub culture on the Island…
McCarthy: Running a bar is like tradition in our family. I learned everything from my father, and my father learned everything from my grandfather. After my grandfather came over from Ireland, he had three pubs here—in Commack, Smithtown and Hauppauge. The bar business is in my blood. It’s important for me to carry on their traditions. [Tim also runs Twisted Tavern in Sayville and Seven Quarts Tavern in Northport.]

Pulse: What’s been their best advice?

McCarthy: Make every customer feel that when you walk into a McCarthy bar, you become part of the family.

Pulse: What aspect of bartending do you enjoy most?
McCarthy: Definitely getting to know your customers, from what their regular drink is to the names of their kids. I personally think that’s more important than knowing a bunch of recipes and being able to memorize them. A lot of our regulars that come here three or four times a week, I started serving them 20 years ago. We’ve all grown together. I’d like to think we’re doing something right since they keep coming back