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Top five bars in… Dublin, Ireland

It may have a reputation for stag parties and rivers of Guinness, but there is so much more to Dublin’s nightlife than that, with a whole host of sophisticated cocktail bars and top-class restaurants on offer, writes James Lawrence.

*This feature was originally published in the February 2019 issue of The Spirits Business

Once the second city of the British Empire, today Dublin is a fitting poster child for contemporary Ireland – proud, diverse, cosmopolitan and hospitable. Its rich cultural heritage attracts millions of visitors each year, yet for most tourists the real beauty of Dublin is its people.

Garrulous, amiable and witty, Dubliners are renowned for their effortless sociability, eagerly (and repeatedly) pointing out that the city’s pub­-to-­person ratio is the envy of the world. For even in a time when abstinence is on the rise, the pub remains the cornerstone of social interaction in Dublin. Every Dubliner has their favourite haunt, from traditional taverns to glamorous cocktail lounges, hipster haunts and trendy wine bars.

With more than 1,000 pubs and bars spread about the city, you’ll be spoilt for choice, but remember there’s more to Dublin than quaint watering holes and gallons of Guinness. Indeed, there is a stubborn misconception about Dublin’s nightlife that needs correcting.

The vast majority of stag parties never leave Temple Bar, an area of cobbled streets between Dame Street and the Liffey. Yet further exploration offers ample rewards – the docklands area is full of historical pubs that have far fewer crowds.

Meanwhile, the alleys and malls cutting across busy pedestrianised Grafton Street boast many of Dublin’s better restaurants and upmarket bars. Even Merrion Square, one of Dublin’s largest and grandest Georgian edifices, has one or two watering holes in its vicinity if you’re in the mood for bespoke cocktails, a sedate atmosphere and live piano music.

Whether you crave a stag party paradise, Guinness on tap or something more sophisticated and refined, Dublin really does have all bases covered.

Click through the following pages to see our top bars in Dublin, Ireland. 

Vintage Cocktail Club

15 Crown Alley, Temple Bar

A blissful escape from the weekend madness of Temple Bar, the Vintage Cocktail Club (VCC) is a gorgeous oasis of calm.

Set over three floors, including a fabulous roof terrace, VCC is the epitome of 1920s chic – vintage trinkets, antique furniture, a roaring fire and beautiful artworks bedeck its walls.

Americana Bar

Devlin Hotel, 119 Ranelagh

A new face in Dublin’s growing bar scene, Americana is already making a name for itself as a centre of sophisticated, experimental mixology.

Dominated by a giant, 20­-seat, teak­-topped bar counter with black leather trim and bronze accents, Americana’s menu has been curated with the help of bartender Kevin Hurley, co­-creator of the Irish Craft Cocktail Awards.

Among his weapons are a sous-­vide machine, centrifugal clarifiers and an ultra­-sonic jewellery cleaner.

Peruke & Periwig

31 Dawson Street

For years, Dublin was crying out for a left­-field, upmarket speakeasy bar, then Peruke & Periwig came along.

Open seven nights a week, the bar offers guests a draught pint, a bottle of craft beer or an extensive selection of cocktails, whiskeys, liqueurs and wines.

Staff members are unfailingly polite and friendly, while the atmosphere is just the right side of relaxed, with lush furnishings acting as the icing on the cake.

John Mulligan’s

8 Poolbeg Street

Admittedly popular with tourists, John Mulligan’s is nevertheless a cultural institution, established in 1782 and in this location since 1854.

Enjoying a drink or two here is like attending liquid service at a most sacred, secular shrine. Before he was US president, John F Kennedy enjoyed a pint here, joining the cast of regulars that continue to prop up the bar today.

Bar No. 23

The Merrion Hotel, Upper Merrion Street

Boasting a refined, clubby atmosphere and an extensive selection of wines by the glass, Bar No. 23 at The Merrion is the ideal venue for sophisticated evenings.
It remains Dublin’s most elegant cocktail lounge, perfect for first dates. It simply never puts a foot wrong: cocktails, food and service are all exquisite.

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