Top 15 bars, pubs & clubs in Dublin
The travel bug bite
In the first week of February, I embarked on a cross-Atlantic voyage for two months that quickly became more than just a trip to experience a new trade; it became an unexpected opportunity to make friends and learn about centuries of the culture surrounding the alcohol industry from countries around the world.
Little ‘Miss Venturous’
As a young Alaskan girl who spent most of her teen years on the central coast of California, a few months in Washington and then moved to Oregon for a few years to make wine; it wasn’t the craziest of notions that I wanted to travel away from the West Coast. I’ve been all around the US for the most part, to Canada, and to Mexico, but I got bit by the travel bug the first time I opened a National Graphic magazine as a kid and that feeling is never going to fade.
The best month so far
Traveling to the Republic of Ireland was one of the best decisions I ever made. Between working odd jobs in restaurants and cash handling positions to making wine and hard cider, I knew that I wanted to progress to a vocation that utilized both my years of customer service and fed my interest in the alcohol industry.
Why travel for a vocational school?
In a time where a four-year degree doesn’t guarantee you a job, and the world is full of uncertainties, it can be a huge financial risk to travel for work, education or even just a vacation. But, there are some age-old trades that never go out of style.
Bartending on the rise
As an aspiring world traveler, I like to work wherever I find myself so that I can continue to fund my ongoing adventure. Bartending is a field full of opportunity around the world that is surrounded by great vibes and excellent times! Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for bartenders is expected to grow by 10% (faster than average) between now and 2024 in the United States alone.
Finding the right one
The European Bartender School was a diamond in the rough. I initially was considering learning how to distil whiskey when an advertisement for EBS popped up on my browser. Walking around Dublin you would’ve been pressed for luck if you were hoping to just stumble upon it walking down the street. However, local bartenders and bar owners alike were very familiar with the school, and are happy to hire its graduates. Located on the south side of the Liffey, the “Dublin Bar Academy” is a local branch of EBS (European Bartender School). The instructors there: Calum, Stevie, and Richard are a witty, hilarious, and knowledgeable trio. Through side-courses like the 4-hour long whiskey, scotch, and bourbon lecture and tasting at the Institute of Fermentation and Distillation, to a 6-hour long Craft Brew tasting and lecture, a day with EBS never disappoints! There were pub-crawls, daily cocktail tastings, tours of Tullamore D.E.W. and the Guinness Storehouse with so much more.
Living in Dublin
While in Dublin, I stayed with 26 fellow students at the Abbey Court Hostel. These extra-stellar individuals quickly became like family. We lived together, ate together, drank together, and studied together; and even cried a bit together in a McDonalds on O’Connell street when we had to say our goodbyes.
I was asked shortly upon my return by a dear friend which bars and restaurants he should visit and where he should stay in Dublin, I quickly replied with a list of at least 50 bars alone and realized that I was truly diving into my northern European roots and staying “Irish Hydrated” throughout pretty much the whole two months I lived in Dublin. Here’s a leaner version of my bar list of some amazing spots to check out in the city next time you find yourself there:
Top 15 Bars, Pubs & Clubs in Dublin
- Workmans:“Dublin’s Lead Live Music Venue”
Small club and pub combination, great DJ’s and good vibes. This place is always full of young Dubliners looking to have a funky time. The small dance floor, outdoor smoking area (which makes up almost half of Workmans) lets you cool off after getting your groove on.
- 37 Dawson St. : For when you’re feeling classy
Absolutely dripping with ambiance, 37 Dawson St. has unique walls of art, delicious food, and truly wonderful cocktails. (Especially their Mary Pickfords and Amaretto Sours)
- Izakaya’s: Dublin’s secret Japanese treasure
Do you like sushi, signature cocktails, and an underground vibe? Then Izakaya is your new favorite bar. With top DJs every night you’ll feel like you’re in the know in a VIP way when you walk into this Japanese gem.
Rock n’ roll downstairs, Hip-Hop on the ground level dancefloor, and club music upstairs makes the Academy one of the most musically versatile clubs in the city. With lines down the block it can be daunting to get in, but once inside it’ll be worth the wait. As you groove with beautiful men and women covered in glitter, you’ll gaze upwards to see circus-esque dancers above on the top balcony with hoola-hoops and poi.
They also have live music and tickets can be purchased in advance online. I highly recommend getting yourself in the Academy to see Rodrigo y Gabriella on Sunday the 16 of July!
- O’Connells: “What’s the craic?”
Located right next door the Abbey Court Hostel, O’Connell’s draws in young adventurers from around the world. Go on by if you’d like to catch a match, have some fries and a pint, or meet up with some friends. They’re open with live music on most nights with Karaoke on Friday nights!
- JW Sweetman: “Micro-brewery off the Liffey”
Shortly after arriving in Dublin I found myself walking through JW Sweetman’s doors for my first true Irish draft Guinness. I couldn’t have picked a better place to stumble into to kick off my adventure in Dublin. As the only microbrewery and craft brew combination bar in the city, they make themselves stand out from the rest. If you get lost on your way, walk along the Liffey to the Heineken HQ off O’Connell street and you’ll be right next door.
- Vintage Cocktail Club: “Shhhhhhhhhh”
Exclusive. Refined. Secret rendezvous. Late night soiree. No matter what you’re into you’ll love this. Come ring VCC’s doorbell to step into the world of ‘silent movie starlets, cocktails and gourmet cuisine’.
- Farrier & Draper: “Aristocratic Townhouse”
Downstairs when you first walk in the door you’ll be in awe at their sky-high shelf of alcohol. The backlit illumination makes it quite a sight. “Farrier & Draper is a slick spot for the savvy drinker”. When you climb the stairs, you’ll find two Georgian style rooms that are open till the early AM with DJ’s playing every weekend. The history behind this venue originates from the “Farriers” who were half veterinarian, half blacksmith, who worked for the aristocrats in the House of Draper (Clothing Producers) over 140 years ago.
- The Mezz: “Ultimate dive bar charm”
Killer live bands almost every night at this true dive bar made The Mezz one of my main hangout spots while living in Dublin. With bras hanging off the back bar, dart boards, and an alley-way smoke spot, there’s a homey carefree vibe that surrounds this small pub. When you are at the bar, ask for Slim. He’ll keep you in the know about the after-hours bar life in downtown Dublin and the other hidden gems not mentioned here.
- KOH: “Mixologists and cuisine enthusiasts”
We had a resident bartender and mixologist from KOH come to lecture about Mixology over the course of our last two days, which included roughly 10-12 hours total of class-time. At KOH, they craft their cocktails from beginning to end. From infused sugar syrups to chocolate infused cognac they can do it all. Their atmosphere and their food, as well as their killer cocktails, make them an excellent selection for any night out on the town.
- The George: “Dublin’s best gay bar”
If you like drag queens, dancing, karaoke and good times then The George is your new favorite place! With great brews on tap and a traditional club vibe, it’s an extraordinary place to hit with some friends some late Friday or Saturday night.
The George opened in 1985, making it one of Irelands oldest gay club, and provided a safe and fun place to have a good time; which remains true to this day.
- Bison Bar: “Back in the saddle again”
Their pulled pork sandwich is heavenly; craft brews are on point and you can sit in a saddle-stool or chill in one of their picnic-style tables. Perfect place to wander into for a pint and a bite on any given afternoon.
- The Church: “Cocktails at the church?”
A bar, restaurant, café, nightclub and a tourist attraction make ‘The Church’ a holy all-in-one destination. Award winning mixologists, live music, and Irish dancing contribute to this venues’ traditionalism as well as their modern twist. The Cellar Late Bar & Club within The Church is home to some of Dublin’s top DJ’s and photographers. Finally, after everything else they offer, they also have Dublin’s largest Beer Garden.
- The Mercantile: “Favorite late night bar”
Located just across the Liffey from The Abbey Court Hostel, The Mercantile made a perfect late night stop for a signature cocktail and classic Irish cuisine. The bar embodies Nineteenth century Dublin and “is the former workplace of Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses. It was in Ulysses that Bloom was employed by Wisdom Hely of Hely & Co Ltd which was situated where the current Mercantile Bar & Hotel now resides.”
- Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar: “Perfection”
As part of the European Bartender School course, we had the opportunity to not only learn how to pour a “proper” Guinness but receive an industry tour along with free pints up top at the Gravity Bar. With beautiful 360 degrees of historic and modern buildings of Downtown Dublin, you won’t get a better view than on the 7th floor of the Guinness Storehouse.