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A Drink In Dublin

Published: 06/09/2011 - Filed under: Home » Archive » September 2011 » Lifestyle »

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The Clarence

Best known for being owned by U2’s Bono and the Edge, the Clarence hotel sits on the south side of the River Liffey at the far end of the lively Temple Bar district. Its Octagon bar apparently inspired the duo to buy the place, but it’s notable for much more than that, being an excellent spot to stop for a good drink and civilized conversation in classic, unfussy surroundings – no pumping music here.

As the name suggests, the oak-panelled room is octagonal, as is the central wooden bar and the attractive art deco-style dome above it. Simple leather bar stools, bucket armchairs and banquettes provide a pew for enjoying a pint or cocktail. The latter are particularly popular, especially during the 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM “happy hour,”  when they cost 7 ($10) – normally they start at 9.50 ($13.50). On Fridays and Saturdays, the expert bar staff mix up about 150 a night. The Clarence Blossom – a combination of vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueur, apple and lemon juice, vanilla syrup and Mûre blackberry liqueur – is delicious. 

There are also more than 30 whiskeys and, as you would hope from a Dublin bar, my companion was impressed by the Guinness. Food is served from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Cocktail demos can be put on for groups, costing 25 ($36) a head, including two drinks. n Open 12 PM -11:30 PM (Fri-Sat until 12:30 AM, Sun 12:30 PM -11 PM)

6-8 Wellington Quay; tel +353 1407 0800; 

The Dylan

Tucked away on Eastmoreland Place, just southeast of the city center, the boutique five-star Dylan attracts a fashionable clientele. Located off the lobby, the Dylan bar is a gem – decked out in deep reds and metallics, with muted lighting, glossy black tables and low velvet sofas, it has a retro, welcoming feel, aided by the laid-back Motown sounds playing when I visited one Saturday evening.

Cocktails are big here, with more than 60 on the list, and the well-trained staff use premium spirits, fresh fruit and juices to mix them. The Dolce, made of vodka, passion fruit liqueur and Campari shaken with pomegranate and pink grapefruit juices is a refreshing treat for 11.50 ($16.50) – take a seat in one of the wonderful high-backed Alice in Wonderland chairs and drink deep. 

There is a spacious outdoor terrace for smokers and food is served 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM.  Group cocktail master classes are offered at 35 ($50) per person in the Library.

Open 12:00 PM-11.30 PM (12.30 AM Fri-Sat)

Eastmoreland Place; 

tel +353 1660 3000;

The Westin

Well located opposite Trinity College, the Westin is housed in a 19th-century former bank – and if you head down to the vaults, you’ll find many of the original features on display in its smart Mint bar. The wooden banking counter now acts as the central island bar, while the granite walls, vaulted ceilings and safety deposit boxes have also been retained. 

Like many of the bars here, it has a firm focus on cocktails. There are 85 to choose from, ranging from Minted – a lavish hangover from the Celtic Tiger years, containing ingredients such as 200-year-old Hennessy cognac and 24-carat gold flakes, and costing an eye-watering 500 ($715) – to the more modest Skinted (11.50, or $16.50), which uses a lesser-vintage brandy and chocolate shavings. It’s also good for a casual lunch or dinner, with comfort-cum-gastro food served until 10.30 PM – for 15.75 ($22.50) the fish and chips is excellent. There is live acoustic music on Thursdays, salsa on Fridays and bands on Saturdays. Drinks are also served in the hotel’s attractive five-storey atrium.

Open 12pm-11.30pm (2:30 AM Fri-Sat, 4:00 PM-11:00 PM Sun).

35-39 Westmoreland Street; tel +353 1645 1322;

The Merrion

For a touch of elegance, head for Merrion Square to the five-star Merrion Hotel’s Cellar bar. Nestled in the original 18th-century wine vaults of this grand Georgian address, you would be forgiven for expecting a traditional-looking establishment, but the space has been transformed into a smart, modern venue with exposed brick walls and arched ceilings, where punters watch flatscreen TVs and enjoy a drink.

The lighting is muted, the atmosphere relaxed, and there are private snugs for confidential chat. And if you’re a wine buff, the bar serves more than 300 vintages by the bottle and 50 by the glass – you can take a peek into its glass-walled wine cellar. Lunch and dinner is served (12:00 PM-2:30 PM, 6:00 PM-10:00 PM) and runs the gamut from soup and a sandwich for 11 ($15.70) to vanilla venture dry-aged Irish rib-eye steak for 26 ($37). Back upstairs, if you prefer a more formal environment, No 23 bar offers cocktails in parlour-style surroundings.

Open Mon-Sat 10:00 AM-11:30 PM, closed Sun

Upper Merrion Street; tel +353 1603 0600;

The Morgan

If you want to embrace your inner dance demon, drop by the Morgan. The bar of this four-star boutique hotel is a destination in its own right – in fact, you’d barely know it’s a hotel bar at all, with its street entrance on the edge of Temple Bar. 

Inside, pretty young things with improbable haircuts serve cocktails from behind a shiny black bar, while revellers perch on cream leather armchairs, zebra-print stools and banquettes. Low lighting and glowing candelabras add atmosphere. At the back, an area can be reserved for 100 people. Smokers should head for the glamorous courtyard, decked out with beds, heaters and glowing blue lights. 

As for the music, early in the week the tunes are chilled out, building up to clubby house on the weekends, when percussionists and saxophonists play – if the beats get too much, there is a large range of vodkas to dull the senses with. Food is served daily 12:00 PM-10:0 PM (11:30 AM-9:00 PM Sun). 

Open 12:00 PM-12:30 AM (Thurs-Sun 1:30 AM)

10 Fleet Street; tel +353 1643 7000;  



The Fitzwilliam – Well located on St Stephen’s Green, the Conran-designed property’s Inn on the Green boasts a curving pewter bar and friendly staff.

Radisson Blu Royal – Peruse the cocktail list at the stylish, street-facing Sure bar on Golden Lane, warmly decorated in reds and browns. 

The Westbury – The lobby lounge of this luxury property just off Grafton Street features some wonderful Irish artworks, while the art deco Marble bar and buzzy Café Novo serve cocktails.

The Shelbourne – Watch the bustle of St Stephen’s Green through the windows of the elegant No 27 bar, or enjoy a tipple in the historic, red-walled Horseshoe.

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By Michelle Mannion


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