A toast to the best bars in Dublin

Mar 7, 2020

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Dublin’s bar scene is as extensive as that of a city 10 times its size, and wandering from one marvelous watering hole to the next is a journey worth taking. From quintessential, century-old pubs to buzzy cocktail bars, seemingly every corner of this energetic city offers a place to tipple that will suit your tastes.
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Dublin's Mellows Bridge. (Photo by Leonid Andronov/Getty Images)
Dublin’s Mellows Bridge. (Photo by Leonid Andronov/Getty Images)
Here are some of the top spots to raise a glass on your next trip to Dublin.

In This Post

Historic pubs

The Brazen Head

Dating back to 1198, Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Dublin and claims to be the oldest in the country. The pub is a brisk 10-minute walk from the city’s Temple Bar area — a busy riverside neighborhood with an abundance of restaurants, pubs, art and entertainment venues. You can expect a great atmosphere with live music and a healthy mix of tourists and locals enjoying cold brews and hearty food.

Take time to absorb the historic prints and documents on the walls. A short walk from ancient Christchurch Cathedral and the popular Guinness Brewery, The Brazen Head is worth a visit for both its antiquity and its reputation as one of Dublin’s best venues for Irish music.

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Stag’s Head

Hidden away in Dame Lane behind Dame Street is the first pub in Dublin that installed the luxury of electricity. Stag’s Head is an authentic Victorian tavern that opened its doors amid fanfare in 1894. Its customers included the most respected members of Victorian society. It has preserved its historic look and is frequented by tourists and locals for its old-world charm and vibrant young clientele.

The bar is designed with stained glass windows, mirrors, wood paneling and, of course, a large stag’s head over the bar. Pull up a stool by the long, narrow front bar or go down to the basement and enjoy live bands playing traditional Irish tunes.

 

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Johnnie Fox’s

Established in 1798 and one of Dublin’s oldest pubs, Johnnie Fox’s was the favorite pub of poets Samuel Beckett and W.B. Yeats. Today, locals, tourists, and celebrities like Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt and Bono are drawn by its charm. Johnnie Fox’s is in the Glencullen Mountains and touts itself as the highest pub in Dublin — with stunning views of the city.

Located just 30 minutes via taxi or Uber from the city center, it warrants the trek for the atmosphere, live music and cultural shows all week long. Enjoy a pint of your favorite draught and take in the pub’s rich history.

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Palace Bar

Probably the best pub on the edge of the Temple Bar district, this Victorian gem is steeped in history — it was founded in 1823. Even locals who rarely frequent the tourist-riddled and over-priced Temple Bar, visit Palace Bar for its top-notch Irish craft beer (try the Galway Hooker) and grilled cheese sandwiches. You’ll find regulars and students and professors from nearby Trinity College enjoying the quiet pub.

Beer prices are a little more affordable here. This pub is ideal if you want to enjoy quality beer in a cozy and relaxed setting or stop by for a quick drink on your way to the busier, more livelier pubs in the area.

 

Trendy cocktail bars

Vintage Cocktail Club

Behind an unobtrusive black door marked only with the lettering “VCC” and equipped with a doorbell you need to ring to gain access, you will find one of Dublin’s most prominent cocktail bars. Reminiscent of members-only clubs in London or New York, this chic 1920’s-style speakeasy cocktail bar is truly a must-visit for a cocktail in Ireland’s capital.

The intimate VCC is set over three floors with one of the most extensive cocktail menus in Dublin and world-class mixologists. Come hungry as VCC offers delectable bites using the finest seasonal ingredients — mini pork belly burgers or the rack of lamb, for example. Reservations aren’t a must but are strongly encouraged.

 

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Peruke & Periwig

This three-story saloon is a unique drinking-and-dining experience on Dublin’s thriving Dawson Street. It serves craft beer in a casual setting at ground level and beer and cocktails in comfortable lounges on the second and third floors. The extensive cocktail menu is broken down by musical genres like pop, soul, blues, rock and roll, alternative, trad, and jazz.

The bar specializes in remakes of classics such as its marshmallow-infused Ketel One vodka with crème de cacao, Kahlua, milk and cream, biscuit-encrusted rim and toasted marshmallows that derives from a traditional White Russian.

If you’re hungry, the innovative dining menu offers modern European fare and traditional Irish dishes.

 

Bow Lane

Bow Lane is an authentic, late-night cocktail bar that appeals to everyone from hipsters to sophisticates, as well as the after-work crowd and in-the-know tourists. It boasts an assortment of handcrafted cocktails, unique and mainline beers and spirits, and modern Irish cooking. DJs spin tracks late into the evening while bartenders whip up whiskey cocktails and martinis infused with the freshest ingredients. Traditionalists who prefer a simple classic can ask for an Irish whiskey on the rocks alongside a simple stout.

Their renowned Drag Brunch on the second-to-last Sunday every month is must-try if you’re in town. Hosted by drag queens, it offers disco and lip-synch music along with sex and fashion tips. This definitely isn’t your typical Mimosa-sipping, chatty weekend get-together.

 

The Liquor Rooms

As the only bar in Ireland nominated for the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards (the world’s premier cocktail festival), The Liquor Rooms is a quayside bar in the Temple Bar district perfect for cocktail connoisseurs. It serves up aesthetically beautiful cocktails that pack a punch.

It has four distinctive rooms (The Black Rabbit, The Mayflower, The Boom Room, The Blind Tiger) to suit your mood, so unwind at The Blind Tiger or hit the dance floor in The Boom Room.

 

Honorable mention

Drop Dead Twice

A five-minute walk from The Brazen Head, this cross between a cocktail bar and pub is unique. Inside, you’ll find a ground-floor taproom serving up wonderful IPAs on draught and a BYO cocktail bar upstairs where bartenders work their magic with alcohol brought in by customers.

Once the affable bartenders have established your taste preferences, they use their expertise and boundless range of mixers and spirits to craft a masterpiece. Customers book a two- (25 euros) or three-hour (35 euros) reservations on the bar’s website. Order some bar bites and revel in the impromptu mixology.

Bottom line

No matter which Dublin pub or bar you visit, make sure to pay for your drinks and meals with a credit card that rewards you for dining purchases. Some good card options include the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (7x at U.S. restaurants), American Express® Gold Card (4x at U.S. restaurants), Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card (4% cash back), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x) and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x). The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Featured photo by Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

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