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'We all got very excited': How Drop Dead Twice grew a bar from a chance conversation

A new bar concept came to life at a Bruce Springsteen gig… and here’s what happened next.

BETWEEN THE SAUL Bass inspired branding, the dive bar aesthetic and a diverse line-up of events, Drop Dead Twice is one of those bars that oozes cool.

Run by couples Kelly and David O’Malley and Edel and Noel Kavanagh, it’s become a key fixture on Francis St. But the bar’s inception can be trace backed to a Bruce Springsteen concert, fitting for a spot that takes its inspiration from Americana and rock ‘n’ roll.

“Myself and David were living in London when the bar was first conceived,” Kelly O’Malley explains. “We were visiting Dublin [for the gig] and started telling Noel and Edel about the concept we’d experienced in London; one where you pay in on the door, bring your own spirit and they make a selection of cocktails.

“David is a born and bred Dub who was itching to get back to the city. He said on the night how much he’d love to replicate the idea in Dublin. We all got very excited at the shared energy we had for the project.”

Within months, the group had decided on a theme and found a space above what was then the Tivoli Backstage. On the 13th of October 2016, Drop Dead Twice opened its doors. A year later they took over the entire venue.

In order to avoid the snobby atmosphere that pervades most cocktail joints, Drop Dead Twice takes its cues from American dive bars. “Nothing is designed in a graphic designer’s studio or by a marketing team,” say David O’Malley. “The vibe and feel of our bar has very much been a collaboration between ourselves, the staff and our customers. We like to think we’ve captured what it is to be a real dive bar, not something manufactured.”

“In cocktail bars, you often get surly bartenders dressed in stuffy uniforms,” Kelly adds. “At Drop Dead Twice, you’ll find no such thing. Our bartenders rock up in snapbacks, jeans and all of the craic.”

Those who visit Drop Dead Twice’s BYO Cocktail bar upstairs can bring a naggin and receive 4 cocktails for €25pp. The bar’s team of mixologists use their expertise and a wide range of fresh ingredients to create a selection of great drinks. And if you’re hungry, the menu offers a wide range of snacks for brunch.

The group wanted the BYO cocktail bar to gently draw people out of the comfort zone by trying new things. That ethos continues downstairs with The Taproom, which boasts 26 taps serving a wide selection of craft beers from Ireland and beyond.

“We do stock well known beer brands to ensure we cater to the masses, but it’s very important to us that Irish craft beer makes up a large proportion of what we sell,” says David. “The Irish craft beer market is a hotbed of experimentation and ingenuity, so it’s with great pleasure that we sell beers from Irish breweries like Barrelhead and Rascals.”

The bar also supports local talent in the Dublin music scene. Every Tuesday alternates between jam sessions – where individuals are invited to bring an instrument and jam on stage with fellow musicians – and Band Night – where bands book a 30 minute slot without the cost of organising a gig.

In addition to its drag and comedy nights, Drop Dead Twice hosts a wide variety of leftfield events. It even marked May the 4th with a screening of Star Wars: A New Hope. “I’m a huge Star Wars fan,” says David. “This was our second Star Wars tap takeover, with Blacks of Kinsale brewery creating some special beers and badges for our taps. We’re already planning next year’s one on a much bigger scale!”

It might seem a little unwieldy to run a bar between four owners, but the Drop Dead Twice team considers it a virtue. “We’re truly blessed to be on this journey together,” Kelly says. “We’ve a cross section of skills that complement each other.

“With that being said, our journey hasn’t been plain sailing, but one of the best parts of working as four is that on the days you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, there’s always at least one person to be the group’s cheerleader. First and foremost, we’re family and friends.”

More: ‘There’s been nothing but support’: How ‘a bunch of hipsters’ in Lucky’s regenerated a Liberties shopfront>

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