Ah, Dublin. If ever there were a place associated with drinking, it’d be the Irish capital. Here you’ll find a decent boozer on pretty much every corner. And while the city overflows with such classic pubs, the last few years have seen a surge of new and exciting bars pop up across town. Whatever you’re in the mood for, it won’t be hard to find: whether a pint in a dimly lit Victorian pub or a slick bar dishing out world-class cocktails, the Fair City’s your guy.
And while it is home to many of Dublin’s best bars, you needn’t focus only on the city centre. Wander away from the main attractions and you’ll find some great new places cropping up in the city’s other neighbourhoods, particularly in the Liberties and Dublin 7. Oh, and in case you’re wondering? Guinness really does taste better in Ireland. So if in doubt, order a pint of the black stuff – it's a rite-of-passage thing to do in Dublin.
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Best bars in Dublin
If you’re looking for a classic Dublin pub, try The Long Hall. With a red and white striped façade and an interior that dates back to 1881, this is the place to go for an excellent pint of Guinness, a spot of people-watching and a hefty dose of eavesdropping. Snag a low seat in the corner or prop yourself up at the carved wooden bar.
One of the newer bars in Dublin, The Lucky Duck is a multi-level joint in a beautifully restored Victorian red-brick building. There’s a neighbourhood pub feel to the ground level, where you can settle in for a pint at the copper-topped antique bar. Upstairs, the three levels of intimate bars have a more decadent aesthetic – and the shaken-up cocktails are excellent.
There are no airs to Grogan’s. One of the most beloved pubs in the city, this is the spot where friends meet for a catch-up drink, and end up settling in for the evening. It’s also where Amy Schumer, Glen Hansard and Judd Apatow led a sing-song a few years ago. If you’re feeling peckish, order a quintessential pub snack – the ham and cheese toastie.
Sometimes, only a touch of luxury will do. And things don’t get any more luxurious than the newly opened 9 Below, on St Stephen’s Green. This restored basement bar is all vaulted ceilings, chic art deco seating and brass fixtures on the weathered walls. But while the bar is undoubtedly opulent, it strikes the perfect balance in terms of atmosphere – staff are friendly and jovial, not fawning and formal. An excellent addition to the scene.
There’s no sign outside, but this bar is hardly a secret. Look for the wooden snail at the doorway and head upstairs to find a bar that’s light and airy, with antique touches alongside sleek red leather couches. There’s a good selection of beers, but the cocktail menu is superior – the Lemon Basil Smash is fragrantly zingy and fresh. There’s a tiny rooftop terrace too, perfect for languid chats on balmy evenings.
The illuminated Pantibar sign stands tall over Capel Street, as instantly recognisable and adored as the bar’s owner, Panti Bliss. Self-proclaimed ‘gender discombobulist’ and ‘national fucking treasure’, Panti has created a gay bar with a buzzing, neighbourhood feel that’s been part of the fabric of the LGBTQ+ community since 2007. Order a pint of the specially brewed Panti’s Pale Ale or make the most of the prosecco on tap.
This neighbourhood joint is the kind of cosy, welcoming spot that feels like an extension of your own living room. They have a huge array of craft beers on tap (get a tasting tray if you can’t decide on just one), a superb wine list and even their very own gin. It’s also where you’ll find one of the best Sunday roasts in town.
Who says you can’t get an excellent cocktail in an old-school pub? At Drop Dead Twice, the two worlds are combined to create a bar that’s effortlessly cool without any drop of pretension. Upstairs, there’s a Bring Your Own cocktail bar, in which you bring your own booze and leave the bartenders to whizz you up swish cocktails – think Old Fashioneds infused with peat smoke, and gin sours with smouldering sprigs of rosemary.
There’s a fairly hefty cocktail menu at this small but lavish spot. So the easiest thing to do is grab a seat at the bar, get chatting to one of the bartenders and leave your order in their capable hands. Expect a fair dose of flair – a perfect match for the interior, all plush velvet banquettes, brocade cushions and baroque vibes.
No matter what time you visit Kehoe’s, it always seems to have that Friday evening buzz to it. If there’s a dot of sunshine in the sky, you’ll usually find people standing outside, resting their pints on the giant barrels, with more patrons crowding around the bar inside. Upstairs, there’s a more relaxed, granny-chic vibe, with worn armchairs and fireplaces.
If you fancy a slice of animated action with your pint, then Token can deliver. Kitted out with retro arcade games, this is a bar where you can play a bit of Donkey Kong or Pac-Man as you sup a craft beer. And if you get peckish, there’s a menu of devilish bar food like loaded hot dogs and – wait for it – deep-fried cheesecake.
Tucked away towards the end of Aungier Street, Bow Lane is a mish-mash of moody cocktail bar and casual pub, with a restaurant hidden behind a curtain. There’s a huge selection behind the bar, spanning everything from an Irish gin and tonic to Cute Hoor pale ale. Their bar snacks are stellar – the truffle fries, topped with crispy pancetta and mayo, are a dream with an ice-cold glass of Pinot Grigio.
The whole speakeasy trend has faded away in recent years, but the Vintage Cocktail Club has survived the gimmick and proven itself a truly excellent spot for a cocktail. You’ll need to ring on the doorbell on the black door to get in (the tiny VCC sticker lets you know you’re at the right place) but upstairs there’s a shabby-chic ambience that’s at once cosy and inviting.
Look, there are some terrific things to do in Temple Bar. But its pubs, for the most part, are tacky tourist traps where the prices sneak up as the evening wears on. The exception? Palace Bar. This old-school boozer has been going since 1823 – and we bet many of those around you will have been coming here for decades.
The watering hole for the gravediggers working at Glasnevin Cemetery (hence the name), this pub has been knocking around since 1833. The walls are steeped in history, with eight generations of the Kavanagh family having worked here. Take a tour around the cemetery, then settle in for a pint or two afterwards.