Oh, there was a cold chill in the air indeed.
It was the middle of November, though in Phoenix that only means it’s time to think about switching to jeans from shorts to complement your ensemble of a t-shirt and nothing else, and it was time for our weekly outing to wing night. The one difference: My wife wanted to come along with us to Rosie McCaffrey’s. Damnation. I agreed, on the condition that she neither speak nor look any man directly in the eyes, and I told her she could order one item off the menu under $7 but it better not be a damn salad. When she agreed, I lowered my fist away from her face and told her we’d be happy to have her!
I’m kidding, of course, and my wife is awesome, though it was a little weird to have a woman with us since it was normally two guys with 24 wings and countless beers that made up our wing Thursdays. But we pressed on because there were wings to be devoured, damn it, and because after eating at a string of good to great wing places, we were almost looking for a letdown.
We didn’t find that letdown here.
Rosie McCaffrey’s is an Irish pub in central Phoenix with a fairly loyal fanbase of folks who swear by its brand of UK flair, and for good reason. While the place is kitschy in its whole “Hey, we’re another Irish pub in America that is far far away from Ireland and there’s no way for you to verify the authenticity of a place like this!” appeal, it never feels like they’re pandering to you. It’s not like they’ve got shamrock-shaped plates and refer to their hamburgers as hamburger “paddys”, and the servers don’t have to call themselves McShannon or O’Tiffany. The place has a vibe that seems like a mixture of regulars and wanderers alike that are all welcomed into a well-worn but not-quite-dive bar.
On this particular night, it just so happened to be the Marine Corps birthday (November 10th) and there were a few rather burly gentlemen in their full-on dress blues celebrating the way Marines tend to celebrate: with alcohol and women. And god bless ‘em, really. If you’re crazy enough to be a Marine (and I mean that in the most sincerely complimentary way possible) then you deserve to get shitfaced with the kind of severity usually only reserved for casino Indians and most of my relatives.
We ordered our usual smattering of two dozen wings and since Rosie McCaffrey’s doesn’t exactly have a stellar selection of flavors we just stuck with the hottest ones they had, creatively called “Hot”. And then my wife got this:
My wife came to wing night and ordered a salad. I was so embarrassed that I just wanted to be dead and sent down to Hell or to Tucson or somewhere equally as completely awful. Though, is there really any place worse than Tucson? At least Hell has interesting people. Tucson has the U of A and a sewer stench and is literally the armpit of America. I’d rather get sent back in time to when I was a toddler and let Casey Anthony babysit me than be in Tucson (too soon?). I’d rather have to pay Whitney Houston’s crack bill in the afterlife for all of eternity (oh ho ho! Topical AND too soon!). I’d rather *insert something tasteless and disgusting and stupid here to illustrate my hatred for Tucson* and I’d even lick up the extra!!
I’m not going to lie to you, everything about Rosie McCaffrey’s had me set up for a disappointment. The wings weren’t “featured” in the menu, they were just another appetizer. The food was all coming out on the standard ovular white plates with some parsley or an orange slice as I watched it go by, and I wasn’t particularly impressed or dying to have any of it. The beer was flowing nicely, I’ll say, but I was pretty scared that we were going to have our first serious bad wing experience.
Then the server, Blarney O’Smith (just kidding) showed up with two plates of wings. They were covered well with sauce and they smelled…spicy? “Wait, did they just singe some nostril hairs?” I pondered. Hold on, because I was expecting restaurant wings to come out on these restaurant plates but I had just been served some actual honest-to-god hot wings. At an Irish pub. The mind boggled.
When we ordered the hot, the server asked us if we’d ever had the hot there before and we laughed and scoffed and guffawed as only two late 20′s nerds with superiority complexes could. If we would have just adjusted our monocles and top hats afterwards, it would have been a condescending elitist prick’s wet dream, that’s how scoffy and dickish we probably came off about how not-hot their hot probably was.
I’m not trying to say Rosie McCaffrey’s is going to break some world record for heat, and lord knows there’s millions of hotter wings out there, but they had some serious heat build-up that I was not expecting. I don’t know if we just weren’t thinking these wings would have any spice or if they were just legitimately hot and we were unprepared, but they had some serious zip to them after about 4 or 5 chickensicles down.
They were cooked pretty good, lots of crisp on the outside, but the wings weren’t tiny at all nor were they dry inside. These were above-average sized wings, and after NY Boyz we all learned the importance of the size and texture of a wing. Rosie McCaffrey’s was no slouch. But the star here was the sauce. It was flavorful, you could almost visualize the vinegar in a fistfight with the chili, and it had this smokiness to it that made it complex and unique. It was like if you took campfire smell and injected it into a hot sauce. It wasn’t barbecue-ish and it wasn’t “smoked” per se, it just had a smokiness.
My wife saw all the fun Tyler and I were having, splashing each other with beer and having wet t-shirt contests with ranch slathering our chests and throwing chicken bones at each other in a playful manner or whatever, but she totally wanted in on this masculinity luau. She grabbed the server and ordered a dozen medium wings and I remembered right then and there why I married her (her cleavage was showing a bit). Her wings were cooked just as well, still plenty of crisp, though the medium sauce ended up tasting kind of generic. Not a bad wing, but after the complexity of the hot, she was definitely mad at herself for ordering the medium.
There was also this lady that looked like she missed the meeting when they told older ladies that you need to be hot if you’re going to try to be a cougar that was sitting at the bar with two dudes, and she kept looking over and giving me eye-intercourse and whatnot. I told my wife I was going to bang her until her hip fell off and my wife gave me the go ahead to see if I could spit mad ill game at this fossil. So I’d look over and leer suggestively at her as I ate my wings, red sauce smeared on my cheeks and jizzy-white ranch all over my hands. I think she still would have done it, she was pretty haggard.
This awesome dude with an epic beard and a set of bagpipes came out and started wailing out some Irish classics as well. Not even joking, take a look [LOUD VIDEO]:
We eventually packed up and headed off to the Clarendon Hotel, a sort of retro-chic 60s style hotel that all kinds of artsy fucks hang out at, and it was pretty cool. I snapped this picture of the urinal:
We went to the rooftop deck/bar that was completely deserted at the time and just took in the view of the city. It was actually pretty nice, though deserted and desolate and somewhat reminiscent of Charlton Heston’s Los Angeles in The Omega Man (beauty eh). We headed off to one of our downtown favorites from there, the always-fun Copper Blues, and watched this cover band do live karaoke while the bassist that missed out on the Megadeth tryouts looked bored and sarcastic and the guitarist with the gas station work shirt worked way too hard for a guy that was covering LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem while a 60 year old with tall brown socks tried to wail it out all tried to entertain us (and did a magnificent job of doing so). The night itself was just another night, no algae scientists and no hockey rink bars this time.
But really, we got what we came for. We got good wings at a good bar on a random Thursday night and we had a good time doing it. I’ll be back at Rosie McCaffrey’s.
O’Xavvi McMartinez. I couldn’t resist.
906 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85014
11:00am-2:00am Every day of the week
Sampled November 3rd, 2011