Where to get the best cocktails in Dublin?
There's no doubt that we Dubliners love our cocktails, so with the second annual Dublin Cocktail Festival about to kick off, here's the 10 best tipples in town
There’s no doubt about it — Dubliners love cocktails.
The sheer amount of bars that specialise in mixed drinks is testament to that fact, many of them have popped up in the city post-recession.
Of course, we still love our pints and Prosecco, but any bar and restaurant worth its salt in 2015 has a cocktail menu as long as your arm, from the classics to the weird and wonderful.
In fact, we love cocktails so much, the Dublin Cocktail Festival is returning for its second year following a brilliant debut last autumn. Lots of well-known establishments (and a couple of new ones) will be throwing open their doors and offering cheap yet high-end, specially devised cocktails for the five days of the festival, and all you have to do to avail of the lower prices is buy a wristband for €5.
Inspired by this and with a view to cocktail-sipping all winter long, we took to the streets to find out where serves the best mixed beverages in town, from the classics to the newbies — and we weren’t disappointed.
1 Smokie Old Fashioned at the Exchequer
As you might be able to tell from the name, the Old Fashioned is a classic-style cocktail combining sugar, whiskey and bitters with a twist of fruit. Strong and short, it pulls no punches and is evocative of prohibition era and times gone by.
There are several Dublin mixologists who make a mean one, and notable mention goes to the gang in 37 Dawson Street as well as Baggot Street’s steakhouse Brookwood, but The Exchequer wins for its twist on an old favourite — one that not only works well, but offers a nice alternative to the original. Their take (pictured left) involves a large spherical ball of ice, smoky flavourings and minimal garnish.
Cost: €11, two for one on Smokie Mondays
2 Espresso Martini at Taco Taco
James Bond’s tipple of choice is the straight up vodka martini, shaken not stirred, but other incarnations of the famous drink have a rather girly label — pink Cosmopolitans and lurid Appletini’s took the cool cache away from the cocktail, but the Espresso Martini is here to claim it back.
A drink beloved by both the males and females of the species, it’s often substituted for dessert in this new Dame Court restaurant. A creamy coffee laced with vodka and topped with beans, it’ll calm the palate after some spicy jerk chicken and send you out in to the night with wind in your sails.
3 Diable Blanco Barracho at 777
This George’s Street Mexican is as famous for its cocktails as it is for its food, but this is not your average Margarita. The Diable Blanco Barracho (pictured above) has been created especially for the Dublin Cocktail Festival and instead of tequila, features Bán Poitin and Ginseng Liqueur along with lime juice and Mezcal Mist.
If you’re not a fan of ginger flavours, stick to the more traditional offerings. But if you like strong flavours, give this a go.
Cost: €8.75 during the festival with wristband
4 Mai Tai at the Vintage Cocktail Club
If you want to step back in time, this speakeasy-style hidden gem in Temple Bar is the place to do it. With no signage, you knock to get in, and enter a very cool and intimate lair complete with classic glassware and the feeling of being hidden away from the world.
The menu is vast with something for everyone, but they do this traditional rum-based favourite very well — Havana Club 7 Year Old Rum and Anejo Especial, Cointreau and lots of citrus-y goodness, it’s refreshing and sweet without being sickening — so you can sink a few.
5 Disco is Dead at Peruke and Periwig
Perhaps the most unusual tipple of all the ones listed here, this purple cocktail’s main ingredient is Pisco, a Peruvian clear brandy. Egg whites, Blue Curacao and chilli salt are among the other ingredients so it’s not for the faint-hearted and packs quite a punch. But if you’re a curious creature and like to push the boundaries, this one is for you.
The opulent 19th-century surroundings should get you in the mood, and the sophisticated clientele.
6 Into the Woods at Diep Le Shaker
Last year, Diep’s offering (pictured below) was voted the winner by Dublin’s discerning cocktail festival goers, so their 2015 tipple is under pressure to retain the crown. Luckily for them, it’s delicious! Shortcross gin and autumnal flavours of blueberry and fig, spliced with lemon juice for bite, mean it’s refreshing and comforting all at once, and will put fire in your belly.
It compliments their famous Thai menu nicely, the juniper, coriander and orange in this particular brand of gin suiting Asian food to a tee.
Cost: €7.95 during the festival with wristband
7 Spiced Pumpkin Sling at The Morrison
Thanks to some seasonal addition to the famous northside hotel’s menu, the Spiced Pumpkin Sling (pictured right) is another autumnal twist on a classic and will suit anyone who enjoys a
Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte — only this has an added alcoholic zing!
Poured tall over crushed ice, this luminous cocktail is made up of Sailor Jerry rum, Grand Marnier and pumpkin syrup with pineapple juice. It’s cold and refreshing and matches the serene, modern surrounding of the quayside bar.
Cost: €9.50 each, €17 for two
8 Mustachio Pistachio at The Liquor Rooms
If you like your gin with a side of kitsch, you’ll love this short drink. Beefeater gin, pistachio milk (the cousin of the uber cool almond milk) and lemon topped with soda, it’s simple and absolutely delicious — plus it’s very cute.
The Liquor Rooms is another den of mixology, this one nestled on Dublin’s south quays beneath the Clarence Hotel. A great venue for a date (particularly a boozy one), you’ll find drinks to suit all sorts and a very glam crowd on weekends.
9 Bananasaurus Rex at Meeting House
A relatively new addition to the city, this bar/restaurant is known for its cocktails already — and this special addition to the menu for the cocktail festival is certainly welcome.
It might sound sickly sweet, but somehow the Bananasaurus Rex (pictured below) isn’t — and again, it’s a great alternative to dessert.
The Tullamore Dew whiskey is infused with pineapple, mixed with Connemara-peated whiskey and topped with fresh lime and bitters. The result is this fruity concoction that tastes more like banoffee pie than anything tropical. Cost: €8 during the festival with wristband
10 From Barrel To Pot at Candlelight Bar
This certainly wins the prize for the most unusual drink on offer at the festival, served in a pot with flowers. Its evocative of the bar that’s offering it — the Candlelight Bar in Dundrum Town Centre’s Siam Thai restaurant is known for its grassy balcony on which you can sip to your heart’s content.
This cocktail includes Glendalough Double Barrel whiskey, an earthy base. Perhaps best avoided if you suffer from floral allergies, it’s certainly going to be the most Instagram-able cocktail of the festival.
Cost: €8 during the festival with wristband
For more on the Dublin Cocktail Festival, visit the website www.greatirishbeverages.com