When considering the friendly and emerald island of Ireland, Irish pubs immediately come to mind. The cliched associations we hold of them include shades of green and shamrocks — associations that are questioned admirably by the spectrum of pubs scattered around Dublin. Irish pubs might be the country’s largest cultural export, yet bars in the capital city serve specific cultural niches.
Apart from proffering a phenomenal range of Irish, European, and even international alcohol, pubs in Dublin also reflect the city’s growing cosmopolitan identity. Visit these bars for their special take on what they highlight about Dublin:
Decorated in deep maroon tones, The Long Hall wears traditional and elegant Victorian interiors from the late 19th century. On a wall to the left of the entrance is a James Joyce Pub Award, given selectively to pubs of extraordinary cultural importance. Accolades and history apart, the service here is warm and friendly. Bartenders pour Guinness, juggle friendly chats with customers, and recommend new Irish gins with remarkable ease.
Keep an eye out for the gold leaf details, original woodcarvings, and the splashes of colour in the ornate glass that divide the booths, which seat a balance of tourists who have done their research and everyday Dubliners.
(51 South Great George’s Street, Dublin, Ireland; Mon. – Sat. from noon; Sun., from 12:30 p.m.; A pint costs €5.50/Rs 425)
This large pub is one of the most generously cavernous of its kind in Dublin. The Celt is divided into three unique rooms: the first is a compact room for nightly live music, the second has a mid-sized gathering of tables, and the third large interior room seats around 80 people.
The Celt is the best bet in Dublin’s city centre for live Irish music, performed through the week. In the warmly lit front room, flags from assorted countries cover the ceiling as European travellers raise clinking glasses to superb local musicians. The rooms inside offer candlelit tables in a cosy, lived-in space that moulds itself to comfortable conversation.
(81 Talbot Street, North City, Dublin, Ireland; Mon. – Sun. from 10 a.m.; A pint costs €5.30/Rs 410)
Finding the Kimchi Hophouse for the first time is rather confusing. The Korean pub retains the traditional stained-glass façade of “The Shakespeare,” an older, traditional Irish pub whose space it occupies. The inside is a different and casual world, with a bar staffed by Korean bartenders pouring a generous range of regular and craft beers, as well as drinks like rice wine and soju.
Food worth trying includes varieties of mandu, a style of dumpling, as well as yakitori, sushi, and jjigae. Keep an eye out for their crisp, golden house special dubbed the Shakespeare Lager. An outdoor area has tables and a smoking zone, and a terrace sports a rotating collection of graffiti.
(160-161, Parnell Street, Rotunda, Dublin, Ireland; Mon. – Sun. from noon; A pint costs €5/Rs 380)
The Grand Social is home to a variety of Dublin’s communities. You’re as likely to be here for a Spanish food pop-up as for a football screening with the local chapter of Arsenal FC supporters. It’s also often the venue of choice for performances by eclectic international artists and musicians on the rise among Dublin’s tuned-in, music-friendly audiences. The bar offers zones as varied as a disco room, a beer garden, and a pub front, allowing each section to simultaneously host a different kind of experience.
(35 Liffey Street Lower, North City, Dublin, Ireland; Fri. – Sat. from noon, Sun. from 3 p.m., Mon. – Thurs. from 4 p.m.; A pint costs €5.60/Rs 435)
A newer, trendier wave of Dublin nightlife is fuelled by students from across Europe, expats, and local yuppies from various company headquarters. These groups make up a large part of the regulars at J T. Pim’s on Saturday nights, usually nursing a well-prepared cocktail and gently bopping to live beats from the DJ’s console.
Enviably located at the mouth of buzzing George’s Street, J.T. Pim’s draws crowds with its playful interiors and oversized chairs, finger food, craft beer, and a special selection of gin and rum. The bar delicately balances the promise of an energetic night out with great food; the atmosphere is as equally conducive to dancing as it is to chatting over confit duck salad.
(4 South Great George’s Street, Dublin Ireland; Mon. – Sun. from noon; A pint costs €5.50/Rs 425)