01. The Blind Pig
Welcome to Dublin’s most clandestine cocktail bar. The Blind Pig is a speakeasy restaurant and bar that truly honours the bright lights of the past. This secret bar is only accessible through a side door on a back passage, through a redbrick tunnel, and you need a password to get in… fancy. The stunning venue is so named after the police that turned a blind eye to the illegal liquor trade of the 1920s prohibition, and it boasts an illicit undercurrent. The atmosphere is exciting, the lighting low, the menus are printed onto old books and art deco pictures line the exposed brick walls. This fully-fledged, expert underground bar also has an extensive drinks and food menu – serving a la carte cuisine alongside the likes of the Battered Sling and Lil’ Saint Nick. It’s enough to keep you entertained throughout the dazzling decade.
02. Napoleon’s Toothbrush
Once upon a time, Napoleon, France’s favourite military commander, had an Irish best friend, Barry Edward O’Meara – a noted physician. Like Ant and Dec, you couldn’t have one without the other and, as such, Napoleon gifted Barry some of his many personal effects. This included his toothbrush (cheers bro…) and a pair of personalised snuffboxes. The items, along with a lancet that was actually used to bleed Napoleon, are now on display in the hallway of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland for plucky tourists to visit.
03. Bagots Hutton
This is one of Dublin’s finest basement wine bars. Only recognisable due to a teeny tiny sign above the steps leading into a basement, Bagots Hutton befits its spectacular location in Dublin’s ‘Hipster Triangle’. You’ll have to grow a full beard (ladies) and wear an ironic shirt to get through the door… but it’s worth it. This dingy, Da Vinci-esque bar is dark and cosy, with a seating capacity of just 65. It’s cosy and comfortable, styled like your best friend’s living room, and is lined with Chesterfield sofas and candles. But, there’s nothing mish-mash about the wine and cocktail list, and the food menu – with weekly specials including Meaty Mondays and Cheesy Tuesdays… this is our kind of bar.
04. The Library Bar
We all have fond memories of the library as kids... and this bar is just like that, but with booze (those libraries are missing a trick). So called The Library Bar because of its stance on ‘no music’, this place has old-fashioned style down to a T. Set in Central Hotel Dublin, it’s a world away from the lively streets outdoors and is close to the world-famous Grafton Street. It has a crackling fire, high-back chairs, comfy sofas and a chilled atmosphere – the sort of place you need after experiencing Dublin’s legendary nightlife. And for those ready to get back on that horse, The Library Bar serves a delicious pint of Guinness.
05. Sweny’s Pharmacy
Sweny’s Pharmacy was mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses, and is a historical landmark in Dublin. The story goes that Leopold Bloom went to the pharmacy to pick up face cream for his wife, and this place is still as it stands from the description in the book. Today, Sweny’s is described as the ‘worst pharmacy in the city’, but you can’t pick up an emergency pack of Paracetamol. The shop is maintained by volunteers, dedicated to preserving the shop as it was in Joyce’s time. It’s packed full of second-hand books and the lemon-scented soap that made it famous. Basically, it’s the 1904 version of Lush…
06. The Secret Bar
The Secret Bar or The Bar with No Name bills itself as Dublin’s worst kept secret, but it’s still pretty mysterious in our books. This place may be right in the centre of Dublin, but if you don’t look out for the wooden snail hanging above the door – you’ve gone too far. Go past the snail and up the staircase and you’ll enter a loft-style house party. It has a relaxed vibe, with all sorts of people sinking into the sofas and sampling the bar’s famous mojitos. On the weekends, the venue is particularly busy – boasting DJs every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
07. Vintage Cocktail Club
The Vintage Cocktail Club or the VCC for those in the know, is an exclusive ‘cocktail and dining experience in the city’. The bar is hidden behind a black iron door and you have to ring the doorbell to gain entry… you don’t just stumble into this place in The Temple Bar. But, when you do get in – you’ll be thrown back to the vintage-age of speakeasies and glamorous movie starlets. The award-winning cocktail menu is where this place gains real notoriety; including drinks inspired from the early 1400s to 1600s, and all the way through to the roots of the Tiki craze.
08. The Hell Fire Club, Montpelier Hill
Montpelier Hill, or the home of The Hellfire Club, is Ireland’s scariest destination. The ruined building at the summit of the hill was originally built in 1725 at the request of William Connelly, who constructed the grand lodge on top of an ancient cairn… even going so far as to use the old burial stones as part of the building. Big mistake. The building was cursed from the start, with the roof blowing off in a storm said to be the work of the Devil. After Connelly died, The Hellfire Club took over the lodge as a base for their activities. Stories of wild behaviour, occult practices and demonic manifestations became widespread, and the hill is said to be the home of the most paranormal activity in the city. Go there if you dare…
09. Hacienda Bar
The Hacienda is the ultimate word of mouth and salt-of-the-earth style pub. Set by the famous fruit and veg market, you can only enter by ringing the buzzer and answering a few questions. Be warned, the opening hours are down to the owner’s discretion – but Shay, the landlord, is a local legend and we’re sure you’ll get in. Inside, it’s a mix of a Spanish villa and old-fashioned ship, with 80s music on a constant loop and pool tables to take on the locals. Matthew McConaughey is even said to be a fan… this pub won’t be a secret for long.
Dublin has a whole load of secrets to share, but that’s enough from us… Find out even more on our Dublin Stag Weekend and Hen Weekend pages, and plan the ultimate last night of freedom.