As the city sprawls and restaurants - decent restaurants that is - open in the suburbs and outside of the vacuum that is town, we’ve rounded up our favourite places for pre-dinner cocktails throughout the city. Some of the list is made up of bars that we’re sending you to because of cocktail mastery, others because their views of the city are unparalleled and quite a few happen to be disguised by the restaurant out front or downstairs. You might never have realised they were even there.
9 Below, Stephen's Green
There are only a handful of bars in the city where we would recommend sitting down for a martini, and this is one of them. If like so many others, ordering a martini looks to be a discernibly difficult task - vodka/gin, dry/dirty, olive/twist etc. - the guys at 9 Below will help you out. From the same people behind 37, House and The Oak, this bar is their (ultra) plush outlet, and with hidden library rooms and caved ceilings, it’s a pretty cool way to start, or end, an evening. Every minute detail has been poured over to create as sophisticated a bar experience as you’ll get in the city, right down to the glassware and the spikes on which your olives are presented (should you choose them). A must-visit, if you can get in.
The VCC, Temple Bar
Search for a hidden doorbell in Temple Bar and you’ll find the Vintage Cocktail Club. In the middle of the mania, the VCC has become a haven from which to drink and delight in some of the city’s most creative cocktail creations. If you can, book ahead. Inside, there’s a menu that would confound most given its density, but for us, the unpronounceable “Phyotica” is a great way to start your evening. Light, smooth but packing a punch for your first drink of the night, you can head to dinner with the perfect Chartreuse-induced buzz.
The Gold Bar at Hang Dai, Camden St
It’s no secret we’re pretty big fans of Hang Dai, with the disco chinese restaurant seeming to get a new lease of life recently. Last year it launched the Gold Bar upstairs, a cool, compact space that fits about 25 people between the terrace and the bar itself, and is staffed by some decidedly cool bartenders. Get a “Men with broken hearts” for an interesting aperitif and digestif liqueur mix that produces an unusual result.
The Sitting Room at Delahunt, Camden Street
Another quaint bar sits above Camden Street mainstay Delahunt. Removed from the noise of the street below, this is a quiet spot for a really, really good pre-dinner drink (and you don’t have to be eating downstairs in order to grab a table). You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but we’d recommend the simple “Cognac and Orange” to cleanse the palette for whatever deliciousness is to come after. And yes, that is “Delahunt” imprinted on the ice cube. Details, folks.