Bar report: Ferguson's Irish Pub
Left: Ferguson's Irish Pub, right: Boulevardier
Ferguson's Irish Pub
Downtown, 729 Bishop St.
An easygoing space to grab drinks and meet friends. Owners include J.J. Niebuhr and Danny Dolan of J.J. Dolan's and Don Murphy of Murphy's Bar and Grill. Find the same friendliness as at those downtown hangouts, just don't expect cocktail creativity.
In 2001, John Ferguson started this bar sandwiched in a corridor of the old Dillingham Transportation building. When he passed away, his wife approached Niebuhr (who had worked for Ferguson on and off for many years), Dolan and Murphy to take over the bar, knowing it would have made Ferguson happy. The three bought the bar and kept the name in Ferguson's honor. Ferguson's (the bar) recently celebrated one year and one month of business. While the room itself has a sense of newness, the bar staff are industry vets; most hail from Ruth's Chris Steak House, including bar manager and partner Brian Blair.
A mix of local business people, tourists exploring the financial district and HPU students filter through, though 7 p.m. on a Wednesday yielded our choice of seats. The bar, a sweeping African mahogany counter made from a single tree, extends the length of the room. Service is quick and friendly; the background music doesn't interfere with conversation; and the high, vaulted ceilings provide more than adequate space and light.
Eleven drinks, split evenly between classics and "modern classics," are offered. Standards like the Martinez, which some argue was the original martini, made with Hayman's Old Tom gin, maraschino, sweet vermouth, and bitters, and the Boulevardier, a Negroni made with whiskey instead of gin, are available. Although the drinks are carefully measured and stirred, I found the recipes at Ferguson's to be rather sweet. Drinks in the modern classics section seem to emphasize flavored vodkas, syrups and soda. Draught beers from 312 to Guinness are available. Ferguson's wine list sports a decent variety of quality wines (probably the best selection in the immediate Financial District), with glasses averaging $10.
We were skeptical at first, since there isn't a full kitchen and the food preparation area seemed limited, but were pleasantly surprised. Off-the-menu specials—carne asada and al pastor tacos—came with fresh guacamole and were well-seasoned, juicy, and decently sized.
To Be Improved
One of the many joys of an Irish pub (or perhaps any pub, for that matter) is the camaraderie amongst regulars and bar staff. Since Ferguson's is still relatively new (and hard to find, if you don't know what you're looking for), I'm hoping that it too will find a jovial crowd that can call Ferguson's home.
[6/26: This article has been updated. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Don Murphy and John Ferguson as partners in the bar from the beginning and a renaming of the bar to Ferguson's. It also omitted J.J. Niebuhr and Danny Dolan as partners in the bar.]