CHAR’s Ultimate Food Guide – Cocktails

Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: Instagram 

I grew up with the notion that a cocktail came with an umbrella in a glass of sweet boozy juice on a beach in a luxury hotel. Now I quaff dirty martinis made with Irish vodka and Irish vermouth. How far we have come.

According to Drinks Consultant Gillian Boyle, “we’re living in a really great age in Ireland where we have the likes of Kilarhora Orchards, we have Irish vermouth. But, still, so many amazing Irish things are being made in the land of Ireland that we have been using in our cocktails recently”.

The generation of well-travelled, experience-hungry, open-minded Dubs has established itself as a formidable force in culinary culture. These days any Tom Dick and Harry with opposable thumbs and an internet connection seem to speak fluent cocktails. Sidecar. Old-Fashioned. Planters Punch. Tom Collins. Periodista. Aviation. Corpse Reviver. Gimlet. Manhattan.

We all have a go-to drink. We’ve all gone through a mojito phase. We’ve all had an ill-advised espresso martini at three o clock in the morning. Now it’s par for the culture.

But where do you get an objectively good cocktail? That is the eternal question. So to sort the basil smashes from the coriander trashes, we got the experts to tell us where they go for a dirty martini when the goo is on them.

10 – Bonobo

The Monkey

Bonobo is peak millennial plant person aesthetic, so you would be forgiven for thinking this place was only for beer and pizza. But the cocktails are far from an afterthought. It’s a small relaxed cocktail menu that’s made well. 

Holly Dalton said, “Love Bonobo for a cocktail. Bonobo is a great pub in general. It’s very, very cool. It feels like you’re like a Nordic furniture shop, you know? It’s great. Their cocktails are awesome, and I’ve never had a bad cocktail in there”.

Order: Spicy Marg
Location: Smithfield
Opening Hours: Every day from 17:00

09 – Three Storey

The Scientist

A new entry to the cocktail world of Dublin this year, Three Story has gone from one-to-watch to a must-grab-a-drink-there spot. The spritzeria is perfectly pitched for the Aperol Spritz devotees, and you’ll definitely get a quality Negroni Spagliato here. 

Drinks consultant Gillian Boyle named this one of her top spots. She affectionately said she knows “the amount of love and effort discipline in” their drinks. She credits head bartender Martin for the precision of their drinks; “ when it comes to the mechanical part of bartending and definitely the science parts, he shines. His service is exceptional”.

The Gastro Gays agree and say Three Story is “really good value for the quality of cocktails on offer. It has quite a short menu, but ask for your favourite and chances are they will offer it to you”.

Order: Martini
Location: Stephens Green
Opening Hours:
From 09:00 every day

08 Hen’s Teeth

The Artist

Hen’s Teeth wears many hats, but one of its most prominent ones is its cocktail list. They change their drinks so regularly that nearly every time you head to the gem of Dublin 8, you get a new drink to sip on. The Simpsons cocktails were spot on, as were the High Minds collab specials and who can forget the Top Cuvée crossover episode? Hen’s Teeth have had a helluva year, and their cocktails have never faltered. 

This is not the place to hit if you’re looking for a classic martini or what have you, but if you’re up for surrendering to the team’s artistry, they never hit a bum note. 

Hen’s was a top pick for Rob of Big Fan fame, calling them a “glorious anomaly.” 

Order: The Special
Opening Hours:
All Day 12:00 -late Friday to Sunday. 12-8 on Sundays

07 – Sitting Room

The Cosy Cocktail

Full of plush velvet chairs set in the upstairs of fine diner Delahunt the window of The Sitting Room has to be one of the best seats in the city. The decor is posh granny. Not your culshie nanny’s actual house full of knickknacks, but if your granny was a protestant who owned an estate in the West Cork where she summered. Now imagine that but with quality cocktails. 

Drinks-wise, they fire on all cylinders and prioritise Irish suppliers as much in their drinks as they do their food. It’s a top spigot for both Gastro Gays; believe me, those two know a good cocktail. 

Order: Negroni
Location: Camden Street Lower
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 17:00-23:30. For more information, visit the website.

06 Izakaya

The Groover Cocktail

Anyone who has ever had a Basil Smash on the dancefloor can attest that Izakaya does class cocktails. However, it’s a place that comes with its own vibe. Unlike most of the cocktail bars on this list, Izakaya is most well known for its dancefloor and late-night debauchery with killer tunes. The smoking area is infamous and has seen more meet-cutes than a hallmark channel; if you count ‘do ya have a light’ as a meet-cute. 

On top of that, it slings some high-quality cocktails. Drinks Consultant Gillian Boyle ranks it high on her list of go-to for quality cocktail spots. As does Tara Gartlan, the high-end pastry chef. 

Order: The Basil Smash
Georges Street
Opening Hours:
Everyday from 17:00

05 Peruke and Periwig

The Colourful 

Last year’s number one Peruke & Periwig have a hearty menu brimming with unique and memorable cocktails. The music taste-themed many are something that really appealed to Holly Dalton, who told us, “any cocktail bar that crams its menu full of puns and music references is a winner in my books,” she added, “the menu here is extensive and expertly crafted. Not to mention the opulent decor and speakeasy atmosphere. Peruke and Periwig is everything you could want from a cocktail bar.” Meanwhile, the Bahay team are both also big fans.

Order: Whiskey Sour
Dawson Street
Opening Hours
: 16.00-23.30

For more information, visit the website.

04 Vintage Cocktail Club

The Sneaker 

Ah, we’ve all had a great night in VCC at some point. It’s probably one of the few exciting places to hit up in that part of Temple Bar. Vintage Cocktail Club lives up to its name by specialising in vintage and forgotten cocktail recipes. Spread over three floors, the spot in Temple Bar is probably our biggest on the list. Holly Dalton, The Gastro Gays, and Tara Deery are all both fans of Vintage Cocktail Club.

Order: Old Fashioned
Location: Crown Alley
Opening Hours:
Monday-Tuesday 17.00-23.30
Wednesday-Friday 15.00-23.30
Saturday-Sunday 12.00-23.30
For more information, visit the website.

03 777

The Best Margs in the City 

It’s rare for a place to be so unilaterally thought of as the best place for something essential. And these days, killer margs are an indispensable experience. So step aside Champagne; margaritas are what you pour for life’s happiest moments in 2022.

 Last year Caitriona Devery described 777 as “the original place to hide away from it all and drink margaritas.” Tara Deery called 777, “777 is the mecca of Margaritaville.” According to Gillian, “We can’t say Margarita without saying 777”. They are synonymous. 

Order: A Margarita
George’s Street
Opening Hours:
Everyday from 17:00

For more information, visit the website.

02 Sidecar

The Classy Lassy

The 1930s-style cocktail bar is an exceptional experience. Impeccable service and ambience support a cast of signature cocktails as if it were an oscar tipped old-fashioned movie. Our creative director was there recently and said, “The complementary Prosecco, while you wait for your cocktail to be made, is just pure class”, and you can’t argue with that. 

Russell from Gastro Gays said it best when he said ““t is such a beautiful space, such fantastic service and a lot of creativity with the cocktails as well as nailing the classics. And so many ways too. I love going in there. I used to you’d have something on in Dublin, and I’d use it as an excuse to go for a cocktail, and I’d just sit in there for like an hour on my own, drinking a dirty martini”.

It also topped Mick O’Connell of Neighbourhiid Wine’s list. Alex from Bahay is a fan as it is Rob of Big Fan. 

Order: Literally anything
The Westbury Hotel
Opening Hours:
from 17:00 everyday

01 Bar 1661

The World Class Innovator

Some Ultimate Food Guide categories are more competitive than others. This one, however, had the clearest head and shoulders above the rest winner. Every single industry expert picked Bar 1661 as one of their top spots. 

Bar 1661 has managed to create a space as impressive to the international bartending community as it is homely to locals. Since staunch Irishness is a core pillar in their mission, the team works closely with regional and national drink producers to source ingredients. The exceptional speed of service and flawless hospitality of this place is the kind of remarkable that would make you say, “wow, that was quick”, out loud. You could come back every week, drink an appropriate or outrageous amount, and still try something new every time.

Sommelier Tara Deery said 1661s signature, “Belfast coffee is definitely the best cocktail in Dublin,” in her opinion.

Master of Wine Mick O’Connell said, “The same answer that absolutely everybody else is going to say. So it makes me feel a little bit cliched, Bar 1661, but it’s because they’re amazing. It just is so true. They are amazing, and they’ve done so bloody well with the craft cocktails, which are delicious and easy to do at home. And again, you know, not totally sweet all the time for all of the things, although they probably do go a little bit sweeter than they need to in order to preserve the movie.”

Drinks Consultant Gillian Boyle said, “Obviously, 1661, of course, its the best.”

We could go on and on, but basically, they’re making world-class cocktails with integrity that my friends in Paris have actively asked me about. So it’s not just us.

Order: The Liberator
Off Capel Street
Opening Hours:
Every day from 17:00 or 14:00 on weekends

Elsewhere on CHAR: Dublin’s Ultimate Burger

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