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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Barnacles Budget Accommodation Crown Alley in Temple Bar, home to the Vintage Cocktail Club
Night owls

25 of the best bars in Ireland... according to people who work in bars

We asked some night owls for their recommendations on where to go out in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

WE ALL HAVE our favourite pubs and bars. The places we hit up for a quiet one after work or knock into on a Friday night to let the hair down.

But what about the people on the other side of the bar counter? Where do they go to wind down after a late night or on weekdays when the rest of us are back in work?

We decided to ask staff from five of Ireland’s leading bars to ask for their own personal recommendations for where to go in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

Take it away, night owls…

Dublin: Gareth Lambe

Gareth Lambe is the general manager of Vintage Cocktail Club, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar located in Temple Bar. He is regularly cited as one of the country’s leading mixologists and was named Bar Manager of the Year in 2016.

Lambe told us all about where he likes to go in Dublin on Sunday and Monday nights, which he describes as the nights when hospitality staff traditionally let their hair down.

The Foggy Dew, Dublin 2

The Foggy Dew does a great ska night on Sunday evening from 8pm. The place does be packed with great people – all mods, reggae and skin heads. The live band plays until about 10.30. When the band is finished, it’s around to the Garage Bar on Essex Street East. Fantastic DJs on until about midnight, and some good drink deals there as well.

If live music isn’t your thing, 777 on George Street do all their dishes and margaritas for €7.77. Decent tunes there with a lively atmosphere. For a quiet pint head to Toner’s on Merrion Row. Best Guinness in the city centre. Fade Street Social does deals most early weekdays. Great in the summer with their little garden area on the upper level. Nice drinks but the flat breads are what I go there for.

Zozimus, Dublin 2

Arguably the best industry night is held in Zozimus. Great drink deals that differ every week. Like VCC, the spirits they pour are premium, so you don’t mind paying for them on a normal night out. On the Monday they discount everything -  €4 pints and €8 cocktails made by staff that know what they’re doing.

Galway: Doug Leddin

Doug Leddin works with An Pucán, one of Galway’s leading late night haunts. Here, he tells us about his favourite pubs and nightclubs in Galway.

Kasbah at Tigh Neachtain

Kasbah at Tigh Neachtain is a lovely nearly-secret wine bar above the amazing Tigh Neachtain, which is beautiful in its own right. Their selection of wine is 10/10 and it’s a great spot for a quiet drink and small bites.

O’Connells in Eyre Square. Quaint and so authentically Irish, this is a favorite among Galwegians. The beer garden is a must-see and they serve the best pizza in Galway from the famous Dough Bros.

Murty Rabbits is a great Irish pub located beside An Pucán. The beer garden has heated seats ideal for when you’re cold in Galway – which is daily – and the staff here are amazing. A savage pint of Guinness will be found here.

The Skeff in Eyre Square. Craic is what should be written over this bar. One of our favourite late night spots.

O’Connor’s, Salthill

O’Connors in Salthill. Home to Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl video. This is a must for any tourist to Galway – its eclectic collection of Irish bric-a-brac makes it so authentic and its live music sessions are a must see. Electric is a fantastic nightclub, bar, and eatery. The DJs here are some of the best in Ireland, and the food and cocktails are savage. Very funky and fun.

Dublin: Phoebe Fairbairn

Phoebe Fairbairn is an Australian bartender based in Dublin. She currently runs Wigwam on Middle Abbey Street and has previously worked with The Bernard Shaw, The Dylan, MVP and others. Here’s where she likes to go for a tipple.

Fallon’s, Dublin 8

My favourite spot would probably be Fallon’s in Dublin 8. I guess I love it because of its lack of pretentiousness. It’s a true local pub that serves a fantastic pint of Guinness. It’s authentic to what it is as a cosy quaint bar where everyone is welcome.

Riot, Aston Quay

We have a great selection of bars in the city so it’s hard to pick favorites but there are two new openings that I am fond of which are The Belfry in Stoneybatter and r.i.o.t on Aston Quay. I know the lads behind both places which is why I’m keen to support them. Overall I enjoy frequenting owner operated small venues to support them. The more owner-operated bars we could have in the city the better!

Cork: Tony Barry

Tony Barry is a bartender who currently works in Cask, a cocktail bar on MacCurtain Street, which recently won six awards at the Irish Craft Cocktail Awards including Best Overall Cocktail Bar and Outstanding Cocktail Menu. Here are his favourite post-work/day off haunts in Cork.

Arthur Mayne’s

Upstairs at Arthur Mayne’s is a newly opened bar located above the popular Crane Lane Theater and attached Arthur Mayne’s. Lovely decor, low-lighting and good drinks. It has become something of a ‘bartenders’ bar’ as it is open late every night so industry staff run there to have a quick whiskey and pint before heading home. They identify themselves as a whiskey bar but the cocktails are also very interesting. Well worth a look.

With live music and a large crowd every night of the week, Crane Lane Theater will always be a good bar if you go with a few friends. After work if you and three or four colleagues fancy a short drinks and short conversations with friendly people then this is the place to go.

Tom Barry’s, Cork

Tom Barry’s is nestled quietly on Barrack Street just outside the city. It’s the kind of bar you would walk past and not take any notice but as soon as you walk in the door you’re stepping into one of the busiest bars in the city. The beer garden out the back is lined with picnic benches and beautiful flowers and is the best beer garden in the city when the sun is shining.

Castle Inn is the epitome of a great Irish bar. Bartenders have a saying for going for a pint of stout in the Castle Inn: a “hug from Mary”. It’s a bar that has no notions about itself and just wants to serve the best pints of stout in the city, and that’s exactly what they do. It’s my number one recommendation for anyone who is looking for a good pint in the heart of the city.

Edison has been the home of craft cocktails in Cork for years. With Cork’s most experienced cocktail bartenders behind the wheel, you’re guaranteed to get a flawless cocktail every time. This bar attracts a lot of bartenders as it is surrounded by so many bars on neighboring streets. Personally I prefer this bar during the week when it’s not busy but that’s just me.

Dublin: Stephanie Shen

Stephanie Shen is one of Dublin’s leading cocktail makers. She works in The Chelsea Drugstore and previously worked in Damson Diner, The Meeting House and The Liquor Rooms. Here are her favourite pubs and cocktail bars to hit up on her days off.

The Sitting Room at Delahunt

The Sitting Room at Delahunt is one of my favourite bars to go to midweek when I am off. It is all seated, so never too busy or loud. Great service, fantastic drinks and very cosy! Perfect for a quiet catch up! Liquor Rooms is a great cocktail bar that opens late. If I finish early, it is the best place to go to unwind and enjoy an after-work cocktail. The staff are wonderful, drinks delicious and the atmosphere is always perfect. Midweek is chill and intimate, and on the weekends it has a great buzz.

The Long Stone is a hidden gem. They have a great beer selection, a good whiskey selection and all at great prices. They have an awesome heated smoking area, funky fixtures and two pool tables. Great place to go for a quiet drink without breaking the bank. And the regulars are all lovely!

Vintage Cocktail Club (VCC)

VCC is another great cocktail bar in the city. Very intimate, beautifully furnished and excellent service. Great place to go mid-week, as it is again a bar that is seated only, so never too busy or loud. Cocktails and food are wonderful. Yamamori Izakaya is a great bar to go after work if you want to party. Loud, high energy and to top it all off you can still get cocktails until late late late!

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