So many new bars, so many expensive drinks, so little time (and budget) to see where's worth spending your spondulicks. That's where we come in. We'll be doing the heavy lifting on the city's new bars and telling you whether the drinks, food, surrounds and service are worth dedicating a pre or post dinner drink, an office night out or a night catching up with that friend you haven't seen in an age...
Electric Circus, Talbot Street
What was formerly Le Bon Crubeen on Talbot Street has morphed into Electric Circus, with the brightly coloured, eclectically decorated bar opening up at the end of April. You guys were very keen for us to go and check it out, and we weren't sure what to expect from this one (Talbot Street isn't somewhere we generally think of going for drinks), but it was rocking when we arrived on an early evening midweek.
There's an ideal for a sunny evening outdoor (yet enclosed) section out front, with a myriad of seating spaces inside, each feeling like a different bar to the last. There's a 10-foot high metal robot outside the door, a lot of silk draped from the ceiling, a jar of sweets as you enter, a semi-private booth with your own Space Invaders machine, a Moroccan-styled section with tassled chairs and Arabic-style lights and art - there's a lot going on, but it works in a slightly headachey way.
Cocktails (€9 - €13 or two for €14 on Monday and Wednesday) taste like cocktails used to taste before Ireland knew what cocktails could taste like. This is no Bar 1661. We didn't partake in their shot boards or cocktail trees, but you get the idea. Beers, ciders and spirits are as standard, and the fast food-style menu focuses heavily on chicken (wings or 'tendies' with no hint of it being free range), with burgers and messy fries too. We tried the 'Puff Puff Pass' tenders with a Piri Piri cheese sauce, jalapeños and crumbled cheese puffs, and prison food must taste better than this. It's been a while since we described a plate of food as 'offensive', but here we are.
The ATF verdict: Electric Circus is more about fun than the food and drink. If you're looking for somewhere atmospheric and eclectic to grab a drink on the Northside head on over, and that terrace is very pleasant in the evening sun. Personally we're long past shot boards, but each to their own.
Amy Austin, Drury Street
Wine bar Amy Austin is part of restaurateur John Farrell's 777/Dillinger's/Butcher Grill family of restaurants, and opened about two weeks before we went into full on Covid shutdown - imagine. They've opened and closed more times than a barn door at this stage, but they're now up and running at full speed (despite we're sure chronic staff shortages).
There's a couple of tables outside, a lot of counter seating inside, and a few tables to gather around. Seats at the window are prime for people watching and this would be a very easy spot for a solo dinner, but it's all high seating so not wheelchair (and small child) friendly. They serve wine only so there's no use bringing friends who don't partake (unless they're happy with water), and most is on tap but there's a small bottle list too. Prices feel good by current Dublin standards (ranging from €6 - €13 for a 125ml glass), although the two we tried from the tap needed a few minutes and a bit of swirling to come into their own.
The small plates menu feels like sweet relief in a city of set and tasting menus, and there's enough to keep meat-eaters, pescatarians and veggies happy (we know a lot of you have friend groups that make eating out awkward). The best thing about the black cod fritters was the zingy lime leaf dip, the fritters themselves having a somewhat gloopy consistency, and the flavours in the roast bone marrow with chilli oil, chimichurri and hazelnuts were immense, but the marrow itself was too firm. We liked the seabream crudo, and you guys have told us you love the cheese and meat plate, so we'd try it again.
The ATF verdict: A supremely central wine bar with prime people watching, good wines and a menu that should satisfy all tastes, bank balances and hunger levels.
The Sitting Room At Delahunt, Camden Street
The Sitting Room cocktail bar, upstairs from Harry and Megan's restaurant of choice, Delahunt, has a lot of fans - we lost count of how many love heart emojis we got when we started posting about it on Instagram. It was opened to function as a waiting/pre-drinks area for the restaurant downstairs, and on the night we visited a lot off people were going down to dinner afterwards, but it's also open to anyone who climbs the stairs and finds a free upholstered seat.
It's very "the good room" vibes, and if you can grab the seats in the bay window you'll be sipping a drink whilst floating over Camden Street. It's quite hushed so perhaps not the place for intimate conversations you don't want others to hear, but it's calm and relaxing, and feels like quite a grand setting for a cocktail.
And these are proper cocktails. We loved the Toreador and the White Lady, but it was obvious there was talent at work here so we would have tried anything from their cocktail shaker. There's wine too, and with the restaurant downstairs we'd imagine you'd have access to their drinks list if there was something else you really wanted. There's no food in here, so eat before you come, or make sure you have a reservation for after. Those cocktails are potent.
The ATF verdict: A glam, sophisticated spot for a pre or post dinner drink. Somewhere you might take visiting friends when you're trying to show our fair city in her most flattering light.
The Beer Market
Galway Bar Brewery have been quietly cranking out the bars, with a total of 15 island-wide so far, and probably more to come. They claimed The Beer Market near Christchurch Cathedral was Ireland's first "beer only bar", but they've since diverged into serving pre-mixed Craft Cocktails too. About half of what's on tap is from Galway Bay Brewery, and there's a bottle and can list too.
We tried a wheat beer and a Belgian sour and enjoyed both, but would have liked to see a bigger range of beers from different countries and breweries across the board. They have a pub style food menu which we were too late to try, which has all of the nachos, burgers and sweet potato fries you might expect, and readers have told us it's decent.
There's plenty of seating areas, from long tables to gather your mates around, to nooks for a bit of privacy, to tables overlooking the street outside, and there's a few tables outside in case summer 2022 ever decides to show up.
The ATF verdict: A good pub to visit for beer lovers looking for something more than the Diageo roll call. We'd love to see them go further with the variety on offer, but it's a big step above the majority of the pubs in the capital when it comes to interesting beers on tap, by the bottle and in cans.
What bars would you like us to visit on our next bar crawl? Send us at email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or shoot us a message on social.