The Irish and booze: a charming if not occasionally unflattering stereotype. There's no doubt that the average Irish person enjoys the odd drink, but from my experience we have no more tolerance for the stuff then any other country, and our streets of a Saturday night are as vomit strewn as any other great drinking nation. It is perhaps our willingness to embrace drink in an artful manner that gives us an edge, Like Jackie Chan in Drunken Master, we serve the gods of booze, adding wit or lyricism with our every burp and stumble, making it a truly fun place to tear loose. If you are planning a trip to Ireland and in particular Dublin know this: we have all kinds of pubs, from cantankerous 'auld fella' haunts to nouveau riche shit piles where Smirnoff Ices are thrown back with the same frequency as our hallowed Guinness.
You must also be wary of the Darby O'Gill like pageantry of Temple Bar, that sucks in lazy tourists with its phony“Oirishness". Dublin's finest haunts don’t need to be festooned with shamrocks in order for you to have a proper Irish experience, and here's a rundown of pubs that prove just that.
The Hacienda 15 Little Mary Street, Dublin 7
Located near the many fruit markets on Dublin's Little Mary Street lies the Hacienda; an oddball establishment ran by the Phil Spector-like Shay, who chooses which customers to allow in using a buzzer and security camera. The overly-soused or non-trustworthy will be politely told the bar is closing, or that its full to capacity. I myself was once told the bar was 'closed', meaning I must have been particularly charming that night. If granted entry you will find a place of considerable warmth, where packets of crisps sit trustfully on the bar counter and pictures of the many visiting celebrities like Matthew Mcconaughey and Heir Lip from Allo 'Allo! line the wall. As Shay seems to know how to spot the baddies, a trip to The Hacienda is almost always a fun and relaxing spot for a knees up.
Against The Grain 11 Wexford Street, Dublin 2
I was reluctant to visit this bar for about two years despite several recommendations, The reason being the bars boastful tag line “real food, global beers”. All beer is global, and food is generally real: I can’t stand for that level of silliness. That said, I was eventually persuaded to visit and haven't looked back since. Here you will find a wide variety of Irish made Porters, stouts and pale ales. For myself, though, it’s the American IPAs that keep me coming back - in particular the Founders All Day IPA. Sure, service could be quicker but bars like this aren't made for whistle stop tours.
Grogans 15 South William Street, Dublin 2
As close to a country pub as your likely to get in the heart of Dublin City, Grogans is exactly what you want from a proper Irish boozer, quiet conversation, no music, and a decor that has unflinchingly refused to go with the times. The menu is similarly no nonsense, If you’re not a fan of ham and cheese toasties then I recommend you look elsewhere. Art lovers can also take advantage of the various paintings for sale which decorate the walls, adding to the pubs distinctive character.
The Bloody Stream Howth Railway Station, Howth, Dublin
I have a bit of a tradition whenever a friend visits me in my adopted home town of Howth. I meet them as they step off the train at the railway station and bring them downstairs to the Bloody Stream. A considerable contrast to the multi coloured seaside splendor of Howth, The Bloody Stream is a dark, woody and smokey haunt: an ideal place to bring a weary traveler for an ice cold Guinness. After a few black and white goodies we return once more to the dayglow outside and stumble home with the fresh sea air filling our lungs.
Whelan's 25 Wexford Street, Dublin 2
I couldn’t throw together this list without mentioning Whelan's. As a musician and punter its been a second home for me and many others over the years. Within its walls I have triumphed and I have failed, I have sipped in celebration, quaffed in cold despair. I have been privy to some incredible live music and have seen dodgy local acts break their instruments out of frustration. Since it has three venues I would recommend you pop in one evening and lucky dip it, pick a show at random and have yourself a time.
Paddy's single 'Austria' is released May 11th, and it's wicked. Get it from his Bandcamp. If you're into it, go and check him out at Servant's Jazz Quarters tonight