City Center Bars & Nightlife
55 Drury St., City Center
The Drury Buildings—located on Drury Street, on the cusp of buzzy Fade Street—are covered in a bright, can't-look-away mural painted by international urban artists Okuda and Remed. Drinks and light tapas downstairs with proper dining upstairs, this multifaceted space is one of the few places in Dublin with a winter-proof patio area—the exposed brick and tiled floor belong to actual rooms, with the roof removed. The setting is undeniably pretty and the drinks are great; settling in under the heaters for a bottle of wine and a cheeseboard is the way to go. The gin and tonics are a must-try, especially ones made with Gunpowder—Ireland’s new, deeply complex gin made in a small town in the rural west and paired deliciously with grapefruit and cinnamon.
Fallon and Byrne Cellar Bar
11-17 Exchequer St., City Center
Dublin’s coziest basement for a glass—or several—of wine and a cheeseboard. Push through the crowds at the street-level market and escape down the stairs to a dimly lit cellar filled with big barrels and communal tables. The floor-to-ceiling shelves heaving with more than 600 bottles of wine (come on Mondays and Tuesdays when the corkage fee is a mere one euro). Whether it’s three in the afternoon or approaching midnight, the cellar bar is always a good call...except in the month of December, when you can't get down the stairs, never mind find a seat, the place is so packed.
George Bernard Shaw
11-12 S. Richmond St., City Center
Dublin’s answer to a hipster dive on a grand scale, the Bernard Shaw is absolutely huge, although you would never think it walking through the old-school pub doorway. Through the narrow bar and down a few steps is a vast outdoor space filled with pool tables, rough-and-tumble seating, and best of all, the big blue bus pizza truck that serves legitimately delicious pizza into the early hours. The charm of the Bernard Shaw is that you never really know what to expect, sometimes there’s a flea market, a food festival, a gig, but irrespective of events, the bar is always open. The pub itself is 113 years old, but the hipster-hole reincarnation happened in 2006 (before anyone in Ireland even knew what the term meant), and the place has been a guaranteed good time ever since.
Grogan’s Castle Lounge
15 William St. S, City Center
You can’t miss Grogan’s. If the bloodred exterior of the pub doesn’t catch your eye, the swelling crowds sitting on the steps and spilling out into the street will; the seats outside are some of the most coveted in Dublin. Thankfully, like many Irish pubs, there is no television blaring in the corner and often no music, meaning that this is a place to be social. There’s really no other way to describe Grogan's than as a classic pub—mossy-green upholstered seats, brick floors, an aging wooden bar, and the same barman always pulling the pints—plus, a proper pot of tea for the abstemious.
Horseshoe Bar at the Shelbourne
27 St. Stephen's Green, City Center
The Horseshoe Bar is a true Dublin landmark; it’s the bar where you meet people before dinner, after dinner, to celebrate, to mourn, or just because. Named for the curved shape of the bar, booze aside, this is some of the best people watching in Dublin, seconded only by the hotel’s other bar, No. 27. The illicit-looking, red-papered room is routinely heaving with politicians, visiting luminaries, and journalists. A Guinness is a must here and, if you can be tempted, the whiskey tasting. The aforementioned No. 27 across the marble hallway is all Georgian grandeur with big windows looking onto Stephen's Green, with beautifully painted scenes of Dublin on the walls, a grand piano, and the obligatory roaring fire.
The Bar with No Name
3 Fade St., City Center
Locals call it No Name as this bar actually has no official name. Reached by climbing a rickety flight of stairs away from the din of Fade Street, No Name is impossible to dislike. A series of warm, interconnected rooms filled with a mishmash of furniture in varying states of disrepair lead to the always-full outdoor terrace, which has its own bar and is never cold thanks to the carnival-style canopy. The wine is good here, but the cocktails are better (the passionfruit caipirinha has been one goop staffer’s standing order for close to a decade). Like a proper bar, No Name doesn't serve food at night, so be sure to plan accordingly.
15 Merrion Row, City Center
A quick stroll from St. Stephen's Green, O’Donoghue's has long been one goop editor’s default spot—a proper, traditional pub in every sense of the word. Once upon a time the Dubliners would regularly play impromptu gigs by the bar, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be there when the next session strikes up. During rugby weekends, there’s nowhere a true local would rather be than right here, sitting around an old oak barrel in the sheltered alley outside with what feels like half the city around you. As good for a hot whiskey as it is for a pint, the atmosphere and the crowd at O’Donoghue’s never disappoints.
The Liquor Rooms
6-8 Wellington Quay, City Center
Beneath the Clarence Hotel, down a flight of stairs off the always freezing, windswept quays, this is the bar for boozy late nights. Once underground, the speakeasy vibe is immediate, with three separate, lavishly decorated rooms to choose from, each one with assorted couches and stools to settle into. The bartenders know their audience here, so drinks are mixed at lightning speed. The music is always pumping and the space is usually packed, yet somehow you can still find a comfortable corner for a quiet chat.
25 Wexford St., City Center
Always the scene of a good time, Whelan’s has been the bastion of gig culture in Dublin for three decades. A traditional pub on one side—with the fire, the snugs (a corner booth separate from the rest of the seating, basically the most coveted seats in the house), the properly pulled pints—and a music venue on the other. Everyone (from Jeff Buckley to Damien Rice) has either gotten their start here or played here, newness being something the bookers seek out and something Dublin as a city high on culture craves.
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