By Andrew Willis, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Shenanigan’s Irish Pub & Sports Bar marked its eleventh anniversary in style Wednesday, October 10th, with revelers celebrating into the early hours of the morning. The occasion also served as a farewell party for the bar’s two outgoing owners, who now plan on returning to the U.S., having established the venue’s reputation as one of Rio’s most lively nightspots.
Mike Taylor, one of the bar’s outgoing owners, spoke to The Rio Times from beside the pool table as well-wishers came up to say goodbye.
“I’ve been a part of Shenanigans for six years, so it’s a bittersweet feeling to be leaving. The new guys are going to do a good job though,” said Taylor. “They have some plans to alter the menu and maybe introduce some new technology, but the soul will remain the same.”
Ulisses Vasco, a Carioca and one of the new owners, confirmed the plan to keep the formula. “The bar will keep the same style, same bands, same music,” he said. For many expatriates that have made Shenanigan’s home-base for years, a big part of the allure is the mix of Cariocas and foreigners.
Mike Smith, and American expatriate in Rio for almost four years explains; “Shenanigan’s has always been staple in Ipanema, the staff is always friendly and professional, the food always great, and I’ll miss Mike [Taylor] there, he made the place a home-away-from-home for a lot of us living here.”
The decision to originally locate the bar on the second floor of a building in Ipanema’s Praça General Osorio was considered a gamble at the time, but one that has paid off over the years. Since then the bar has become known for its “Irish Heart and Brazilian soul,” serving a hearty selection of food and Irish distilled whiskeys and beers, including Guinness.
From the second floor balcony customers get a view over the square below, and the bar’s pool table, comfortable booths and live music shows are among its attractions. Shenanigan’s is also known as one the city’s most consistent venues to watch American sports, whether it be NFL football, basketball, hockey or baseball.
Certainly NFL Super Bowl nights are one of the highlights of the year at the bar, with a large expatriate crowd overflowing the venue. The game is shown on a sixty-inch projection screen, with sound and U.S. commercials (in English), as well as seven smaller TVs interspersed throughout the bar.
Another date in the calendar that everyone looks out for is St. Patrick’s Day, when food and drink specials are offered all day and night, including the famous pint of “green beer.” Halloween is also a huge party every year and this month will be no different.
The mix between expats and Brazilians in the bar has remained roughly the same over the years, Taylor said. “The demographics haven’t really changed, although the faces do. There’s a core of people who keep coming back though.”
In the high tourist season, around Christmas and Carnival, the split between expatriates and tourists and local Cariocas is roughly 70 to 30 percent, while during the low season it is the reverse. Between the new team of owners and the host of upcoming international events in Rio, the Shenanigan’s winning formula is likely to remain popular for many years to come.