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Photograph: Courtesy 9 Below9 Below, Dublin

The 15 best bars in Dublin

Sure, you’ve got to have that Guinness, but the best bars in Dublin show plenty of love for wine and cocktails

Written by
Nicola Brady
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Dublin might be famous for its pubs, but don’t take that to mean that the Irish capital is low on cocktails, wine and the rest. Far from it, and the best bars in Dublin are an exercise in stylish drinking if ever there was one. Dubliners know how to party and that covers a lot more ground than just pounding down the black stuff. That said, Guinness does taste better here, so be sure to sample a pint or three of that iconic dry stout.

The city centre might be home to many of Dublin’s best bars, but you needn’t focus only on the heart of town. Wander away from the central attractions, and you’ll find new places cropping up everywhere, particularly in the Liberties and Dublin 7. No matter where you are in Dublin, you’re going to bump into a bar worth investigating for a drink or two.

Drank somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDrinkList. You can also find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews bars.

Best bars in Dublin

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 3 of 4

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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Gastropubs
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 4 of 4

Sometimes, only a touch of luxury will do. And things don’t get any more luxurious than 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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 3 of 4

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.

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.

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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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Pubs
  • price 1 of 4

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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. 

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Worked up an appetite after all that drinking?

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