Another global phenomenon that has caught on with vigour in Dublin is craft cocktails, which is a bit of a relief for anyone who can only drink so much beer, stout and whiskey.
THE Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. Even if you have experienced the tour before, pulled a pint and inhaled a deep whiff of roasting barley, it’s still an unmissable stop on repeat visits to the Irish capital. The glass-walled Gravity Bar on the top level offers the best 360-degree view of the city.
But as a veteran of the Jameson’s whiskey tour, I decided to check out the Teeling Distillery. The first new whiskey distillery to open in Dublin in 125 years, the facility was established by Jack and Stephen Teeling in 2015. The Teeling family has been involved in making the “hard stuff” since 1782, when one of its forebears, Walter Teeling, set up a distillery in the Liberties area, once known as the “golden triangle” because so many distilleries were once located there.
John Teeling, the father of Jack and Stephen, revived the ancestral interest in whiskey by founding the Cooley Distillery in County Louth in 1989. It was sold to Beam Inc in 2011, but as part of the deal the Teelings received 16,000 casks of aged whiskey as the founding stock of the Teeling Distillery.
The Teeling Distillery has become a must-do for whiskey lovers. The reason? Even though it’s only four years old, the small batch, single grain and single malt whiskies have been major award winners at the World Whiskies Awards. New copper stills were installed in 2017 and the company – badged by a phoenix atop a pot still – exports to 44 countries. Located in Market Square in Dublin, there’s nothing like sipping a Teeling Single Grain, matured in former cabernet sauvignon barrels, or Teeling The Revival 13-year-old, matured in former bourbon casks for 12 years and finished in ex-calvados casks for a year.
Irish pubs can be found all over the world from Sydney to Seoul. But Dublin’s energetic, multicultural vibe has birthed a clutch of wine bars that don’t fit the international cookie cutter mould. Olesya’s on Exchequer St should be your first port of call. Billing itself as a Russian wine bar, you can sample over 400 wines from all over the world – a hefty 100 by the glass. Live jazz keeps things buzzy and the Eastern European-inspired menu boasts a quartet of caviars.
Most visitors start their exploration of Dublin in the Temple Bar district, famous for its cobbled streets and cultural attractions. Located in the quaintly named Cow Lane you’ll find Piglet. The focus here is Italian wines and nibbles, and the salamis and cheeses are powerful lures for the locals.
If French bottlings are more to your taste, head for La Cave on South Anne St. The 350 labels on offer include a large swathe of French names, but there’s plenty of international competition and over 40 wines are available by the glass. A flight of stairs from street level descends into a Moulin Rouge-style interior and La Cave also runs a wine school for professionals and keen amateurs.
A well-edited line-up of Spanish and Portuguese wines is the drawcard at the Port House Pintxo, also in Temple Bar, which ramps up the cosiness with a warm, candle lit decor. Bagots Hutton Wine Emporium on Ormond Quay is located in the former premises of a wine merchant of the same name, who was based here from 1829 to the 1980s. Centre-stage of Dublin’s so-called Hipster Triangle, it’s an inviting space brimming with Chesterfield leather sofas and good deals. There’s an aperitivo hour and Meaty Mondays and Cheesy Tuesdays. Translation: you get a complimentary meat or cheese platter when you order a bottle of wine.
The original Ely, just off St Stephen’s Green, upgraded the wine bar concept in Dublin in the 1990s. The menu listings sparkle with ingredients from the family farm in County Clare and there’s a second outpost on the other side of the River Liffey. Both offer wine tasting evenings and cooking classes, and you can also buy Ely’s award-winning cookbook. Slap bang in the middle of St Stephen’s Green is a sculpture by Henry Moore dedicated to W.B. Yeats. Nestled behind nearby St Patrick’s cathedral, you’ll find Marsh’s Library. Dating back to the early 18th century, it’s Ireland’s oldest public library and contains a treasure trove of 25,000 volumes from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Craft beer has become a surging trend in Dublin as it has everywhere else around the world. One of the best places to slake your thirst and sample some of the best brews is The Headline in Lower Clanbrassil St. There’s a huge range of Irish beers and a top notch gin bar. The friendly staff will guide you through the bottled and rotating tap options.
Another global phenomenon that has caught on with vigour in Dublin is craft cocktails, which is a bit of a relief for anyone who can only drink so much beer, stout and whiskey. There’s also a strong push to showcase the potential of Irish spirits as mixers. In early 2018, the Teeling Distillery opened a second bar called the Finishing Room specialising in contemporary cocktails with the Irish touch.
The Chelsea Drugstore, a trendy cocktail bar based in an old pharmacy in Great George’s St South, is packed on weekends as the bartenders demonstrate their skills in shaking and chatting about their inventive mixed drinks. It’s also first come, first served at the Sidecar Bar in the Westbury Hotel, with its 1930s ambience and Donegal tweed throws. Other cocktail bars to pull up a stool at include: The Liquor Rooms, The Blind Pig and the Peruke and Periwig. But if you’re on a driving tour through Ireland, head for Cask in Cork City, the winner of the Best Overall Cocktail Bar 2018 award from the Irish Craft Cocktail Association.