Dublin’s pubs have a rich history dating right back to Ireland’s pre-independence days. Traditional music, lively chat and a hearty fire remain an important part of the city’s cultural fabric, with a perfectly poured pint of Guinness still a matter of consequence to the locals.
Nowadays though, there is also an impressive crop of contemporary bars – rather than traditional pubs – sharing the same legendary streets. From sumptuous cocktail haunts to internationally acclaimed nightspots, Dublin’s bars are moving with the times.
When it comes to drinking and socializing in this youthful city, expect the unexpected. There is an eclectic array of venues in which to down a pint or sip a piña colada – depending on your tastes. From Georgian townhouses to bars filled with art deco splendour, here is our list of some of Dublin’s very best contemporary bars.
THE LIQUOR ROOMS
Based in a subterranean lair beneath The Clarence Hotel, The Liquor Rooms is one of the latest additions to Dublin’s cocktail scene.
Prohibition-themed with sumptuous vintage decor, drinks are prepared by a team of expert mixologists in one of four uniquely designed spaces.
Hide away in a cosy nook, revel in your ‘burlesque circus’ surroundings in the main bar or dance the night away in the ‘Boom Room’, featuring a real-life bandstand. The true star here though is undeniably the cocktails – in particular the overproofed Billionaire, which packs a powerful rum-infused punch.
A gastropub with a difference, this venue south of the Liffey is truly in a league of its own.
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a late night bar on weekends, it caters to virtually every scenario, with a relaxed atmosphere and service that is second to none.
Enjoy everything from cocktails to steamed cockles and mussels in a laid back, authentic environment, with a private dining room also available for those who require a more discreet experience.
THE BANK OF COLLEGE GREEN
Once a great banking hall, The Bank of College Green is not only perfect for a pint, but a stunning example of Victorian architecture dating from 1895.
With a spectacular stained glass ceiling, intricate mosaic tiled floors and exquisite marbled pillars, this is a bar to visit for your ornate surroundings alone. That said, there’s a very fine drinks offering too – from premium Irish whiskeys to cocktails and a strong selection of wines and champagne.
CAFÉ EN SEINE
Enter through Café en Seine’s unassuming facade on Dublin’s Dawson Street and you will happen upon three floors of jaw-dropping art deco splendour.
The bar was renovated over eighteen months back in the early 2000s, and has quickly become one of the city’s chicest social spots. The bar’s stylish interior will transport you back to early nineteenth century Paris, with a crowd made up of the city’s top professionals.
BAR NO. 23, THE MERRION HOTEL
If impeccable service is your highest priority, look no further than the magnificent Bar No. 23, based in Dublin’s ultra luxe Merrion Hotel.
Located in the heart of the city across the way from Parliament, the uniform-clad staff here will provide you with anything your heart desires, from signature cocktails to a special whiskey tasting selection or the ideal digestif.
European artworks from the hotel’s impressive collection adorn the walls, with the hotel’s Michelin-starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud also housed within its impressive Georgian confines.
37 DAWSON STREET
As far from generic as they come, this kitsch-yet-trendy urban spot is full of curios and oddities, from a stuffed moose’s head to funky neon signage.
Its uniquely theatrical spirit is matched by a vibrant cocktail list, with trendy tapas-influenced sharing platters doing the rounds in the second floor dining space.
An atmospheric and dimly lit Whiskey Bar to the back of the venue provides an additional draw, with a vast selection of whiskies on offer here, including 37 from Ireland and plenty more from across Scotland, Japan and the US.
VINTAGE COCKTAIL CLUB
Hidden behind an unassuming door down a small alleyway, ‘VCC’ imaginatively harks back to a golden era of secretive, salacious speakeasies.
The bar’s lively cocktail menu has been devised by leading Irish mixologist Gareth Lambe, with everything from vintage and modern classics to the bar’s signature tipples – including the amusingly titled ‘Tequila Mocking Bird’.
Situated in the heart of bustling Temple Bar and spread across two floors, this chic cocktail lounge is ideal for pre-dinner or post-theatre drinks. Plus it’s undoubtedly one of the city’s best kept secrets.
THE MARKER HOTEL ROOFTOP LOUNGE
Taking its inspiration from the dramatic landscape of the Burren in Co. Clare, The Marker Hotel’s new rooftop lounge offers a seriously impressive view.
Gaze out at Dublin’s mountains and coastline as you sip on a champagne cocktail in the heart of the city’s up-and-coming Docklands area. On-trend taste plates are also available, from freshly shucked Galway oysters to crispy Wicklow lamb breast, with a drinks menu at this five-star hotel to cater to your every whim.
You would be hard pressed to find a better location in all of Dublin than that of Residence – so we’re adding it in as a bonus number 9.
An exclusive private members club with links in Paris, Florida, NY and London, it is housed on the corner of the city’s magnificent St Stephen’s Green park.
Housed in a four-story Georgian townhouse with a stunning outdoor terrace and a bar on every floor, there is plenty of space here to sprawl and catch up with associates and friends. An added bonus is the acclaimed Restaurant FortyOne, one of the best restaurants on Dublin’s southside with a wine selection that is second to none.