We’re two weeks out from the debauchery that was December and New Year's and the overarching theme of the month is the ephemeral but prevailing 'Dry January'. It's a concept some seek longingly after the overindulgence of the holiday season, while others lean on it as a way to begin stepping back from alcohol altogether. For whatever reason you might be avoiding alcohol, in January or any other month, non-alcoholic drinks are becoming increasingly popular, and bars and pubs across this once-drink-devoted city of ours are taking notice.
2019 saw the opening of The Virgin Mary on Capel Street, Ireland’s first alcohol-free bar that's notched up headlines in Irish and foreign press. Led by award-winning bartender Anna Walsh, the team recognised the need for somewhere (that isn’t a coffee shop or smoothie bar) people could go to get a drink minus alcohol, but still reap the ambience of a bar. It was also a big year for alcohol-free beers and wines which seem to be growing pace, particularly in some of the more progressive bars and restaurants around town (and if you want to read more about the growing 'lo and no' trend ATF editor Lisa Cope wrote about it recently in the Irish Times). If you want to go out for a drink but avoid the alcohol, these five places are ready and waiting to cater to you.
Scottish brewery Brewdog opened their long-anticipated Dublin outpost in December and have responded to Dry January in a uniquely generous manner. Making the endeavour that bit more enticing, they’re offering unlimited refills on any of their draft non-alcoholic beers. Once you’ve bought your first, you can keep topping up, for free. The bar also boasts a sizeable outdoor area that already has us salivating for summer Fridays, a hefty bar menu, shuffleboard and ping-pong. Read more about Outpost in our December openings round up.
The Virgin Mary
If Christmas-time is a regular bar's busiest period, January should by extension be The Virgin Mary’s, thus probably the best time to go for a little buzz and to sample the always-intriguing menu. Their non-alcoholic cocktail and beer range is in a league of their own and superior to anywhere else in Dublin, and the “Pink Preacher” with alt-gin, muscat, raspberry, jasmine and white tea flies in the face of what one would understand, or dare to call, a 'mocktail'. They’ve become such a standard bearer for alcohol-free quality and coolness that our next on the list has asked them to collaborate on their own Dry January offering.
The Shelbourne’s Bar Manager Sean McGoldrick has collaborated with The Virgin Mary’s Anna Walsh to launch a list of alcohol-free cocktails in the Stephen’s Green surroundings for the month of January - an innovative approach from a Dublin institution. The menu features cocktails ranging from simple and sweet to exotic, like the 'Tiki Street' with hibiscus, pomegranate molasses, black cardamon, vanilla and lime, and the 'Ceder Crisp' with sparkling wine, Thomas Henry tonic, Darjeeling tea and chamomile bitters.
Brewtonic, who are killing it for non-alcoholic options across all of their premises, ran a “Sober Sunday Series” at MVP last year and while it’s not official in 2020, their non-alcoholic beer and cocktail menus still remain some of the most robust in the city, and with cocktail ingredients from Seedlip spice, lapsang souchong tea and orgeat syrup (made from almonds, sugar and rose water), you won’t be wanting for flavour. And there’s dogs - lots of dogs - perpetually in attendance at the bar.
Ask for pretty much any cocktail under the sun - with or without alcohol - and House will be able to do it better than most bars in Dublin. Always at the forefront of drinks innovation, their boozeless take on the espresso martini using Irish distilled non-alcoholic spirit Silk Tree caused quite the ruckus last year and it's now their best-selling non-alcoholic drink. They continue to innovate and expand their alcohol free ingredient offering, have have recently onboarded alcohol-free aperitif makers Æcorn from the UK for their 2020 menu. We're excited about this one.