TT&S Dublin: Top 12 Places to Mingle with Spirits…
I love history but I also love a good pint or cocktail (a good gin & tonic most especially!) So when I travel I like to incorporate beer, cocktails or distillery tours into my trip… sometimes all three! Dublin has a so many whiskey distilleries and a plethora of great bars, many with such history (win-win) that is was hard to pick just 12! With so many choices it is a bit overwhelming so here are my recommendations…
- The Brazen Head
- The Merchant’s Arch
- Vintage Cocktail Club
- The Church Bar & Restaurant
- The Liquor Rooms
- The Gin Palace
- J.W. Sweetman Microbrewery & Restaurant
- Guinness Storehouse
- Open Gate Brewery and Taproom
- Jameson Distillery Bow Street
- Teeling Whiskey Distillery
- Pearse Lyon Distillery
**Bonus Spirits & Spirits: Gravedigger Ghost Tour
Have you been to Dublin? Do you have any suggestions to add to this list?
1. The Brazen Head is a must stop for the sheer history alone…the beer is an added bonus. It is said to be Dublin’s oldest pub, dating back to the end of the 12th c. You can pull up to a table in the open-roof atrium (space heaters in winter make it open year round) or in one of the many bars/rooms off to the side. With live music nightly, special Folklore and Storytelling dinners, and a great selection of beer and whiskey it is a perfect place to stop for lunch or dinner then stay and relax…. soaking up the surroundings with another drink or two. I mean, you are on holiday right?
2. After hitting the crowded Temple Bar for a beer (just so you can say you did it), head on over to The Merchant’s Arch right along the River Liffey– directly across from the Ha’penny Bridge. Along with great food and a relaxed atmosphere, they offer live Irish Trad music daily. Whether you like beer, wine or cocktails this is a great place to enjoy a drink and soak it all in. Originally built in 1821, it was used as a guild house for tailors and later as a shirt factory. 30 years after closing in 1980, it became Merchant’s Arch Bar & Restaurant. The winding staircase to the second floor and the high ceilings are simply stunning!
3. Do you like a fun speakeasy? Then Vintage Cocktail Club is the place for you! Located in the Temple Bar district but with less of the hustle and bustle. Reservations are highly recommended and restricted to those over 23 (yes, 23). The cocktail list is extensive, something for everyone– gin, whiskey, vodka, rum, etc.– however if nothing strikes your fancy the bartender is able to whip something up based on your tastes. Very handy! Like any good speak easy the place is hidden down an alley with only VCC in vinyl letters adorning the door. Good luck and enjoy!
4. The Church Bar & Restaurant is another visually appealing locale for a drink stop! Built in the early 18th century, this former church was closed in 1964 and was abandoned until the late 1990’s. The main bar is in the center of the space, under the large vaulted ceiling and in full view of the old church pipe organ. The cellar bar, their late night lounge is great for a late night drink and is newly remodeled. So whether you like gin (I do!) or whiskey– beer or wine– they have you covered.
5. Looking for a quirky cocktail bar? Then look no further than the The Liquor Rooms… Great cocktails, off-beat music choices, and fascinating decor. Relax in an oversize chair or stretch out on a couch under the tin ceiling and lush, red velvet curtains and enjoy a drink with a story. They also offer whiskey tastings and even a cocktail class if you are looking for a hands-on activity (make sure to book ahead). At the Liquor Rooms you can grab a quiet corner or hit the dance floor, it has something to offer for everyone.
6. The Gin Palace is one of my favorite places in Dublin! If you love gin like I do then being able to order a tasting tray of gin and tonic with unique garnishes, specifically picked to enhance the taste, is the perfect way to spend an evening in Dublin. It is so hard to pick just three! So sharing with a friend or staying for a second tasting is highly recommended. Gin Palace it easy to find, just cross the Ha’penny Bridge over the River Liffey from Temple Bar and head up two blocks. It is right on the corner, you can’t miss it!
7. If you are looking to try a local beer (other than Guinness), J.W. Sweetman Microbrewery & Restaurant is the perfect place! With a half-dozen different house beers plus a seasonal and cask beers there is something for every beer aficionado. Try a tasting tray of 5 or 8, and if you find one you really like take a growler home as a great souvenir. Not staying long in Dublin try a take home bottle instead! Not a beer drinker? They do offer wine, whiskey and of course gin! Their cocktail menu has you covered whatever your preference.
8. Onto Guinness Storehouse, I mean you can’t go to Dublin and not tour the jaggernaut! While it is not my favorite beer it is true when they say, “it just tastes better here!” The place is immense lots to see and do on the tour, very informative and fun (for those of all ages!)… lots of interactive attractions all along the mostly self-guided tour route. The Gravity Bar at the top makes it all worth it; grab a complimentary pint and take in the stunning 360 view of Dublin. The place is a hot tourist destination so make sure you plan ahead and book tickets online in advance!
9. After your tour of Guinness, why not walk a few blocks and stop by Open Gate Brewery for a paddle of beer at their experimental taproom? They are only open Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturdays from 2-8pm so spaces are limited and booking ahead is a must! I have visited on each of my previous two trips and found something different each time. They also offer mini growler to take home one you like– another souvenir idea. It is a unique experience so if you like beer it is a must for your Dublin travel itinerary!
10. Whiskey distilleries– you can’t visit Dublin without trying at least one. If you are not much of a whiskey drinker, Jameson Distillery Bow Street is my recommendation to you. It’s been a part of Dublin since 1780 however there is no longer a working distillery on site, it is now more of a visitor center, gift shop and bar. They sweep you through the process with an informative and flashy tour, comparative whiskey tasting (and smelling), and ends with a complimentary Jameson cocktail. If you don’t opt for a tour, stop in for a whiskey sour at least– you can’t go wrong! So yummy…
11. Looking to tour a fully functioning, pot stilled distillery and witness a working mash tun first hand? Try Teeling Whiskey Distillery, the first new whiskey distillery in Dublin in over 100 years. Teeling began in 2012 and open their Dublin doors for tours in 2015. If you are planning to go on a weekend or holiday week, book ahead so you don’t miss out. The tour starts with the history of Whiskey in the city, followed by a demonstration of the milling, mashing, malting and fermenting of the golden liquor. The tour ends with a tasting, of course! And don’t forget to stop in the gift shop and take home a sample or two.
12. Pearse Lyon Distillery may be the newest but the history that surrounds it is the oldest! The distillery is housed in a renovated 19th c church that sits on church land dating back to the 12th c. The distillery tour is unique as it includes a tour of the graveyard on the property,! The tour is perfect for a history buff (who also likes whiskey) or a whiskey fan (who also likes a little history)… it’s a win-win. Your tasting includes three wee drams of their whiskey… and possibly a tasting of Ha’penny gin, another local spirit. Take home a bottle of either from the gift shop, you can’t go wrong whatever you choose.
** Bonus Spirits & Spirits: Gravedigger Ghost Tour is great if you fancy a little spirits with your spirits! The decked-out spooky tour bus departs from College Green (not far from the Molly Mallone statue) and offer you a few laughs with your scares. Your tour ghost offers you stories an entertainment between stops throughout ‘old plague ridden Dublin’. The tour includes A FREE GHOULISH DRINK at the Gravediggers Pub which is a perfect way to end the evening. I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Dublin!