The Best Nightlife
Out and about from dusk ’til dawn
Best club night
Forza Italo at Odessa Club
14 Dame Court, Dublin 2
Disco has been undergoing a serious revival across town with nights like Nightflight, Discotekken and Mother jammed out with grown-ups dancing like Giorgio Moroder never retired. Forza Italo is an irregular party at Odessa Club that’s carved itself into the discerning clubber’s consciousness thanks to a host of crate-digging Italo Disco DJs on decks, nicely embellished with screenings of classic Italian football matches or films and cheap cocktails. Keep your eyes out for the bizarre half-Italian, half-English event details at facebook.com/ForzaItalo.
Honourable mentions: Hidden Agenda at The Button Factory, Gramophone Disco, 12 Sundays at The Bernard Shaw, Disco tekken at Twisted Pepper DG
Best Asian bar
12-13 South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2
The Japanese word izakaya actually translates as a drinking establishment that serves food along with the intoxicating beverages, so it’s fair to say that Izakaya does what it says on the tin. The smell of the tapas-sized gyoza and tempura infuses the place with the kind of atmosphere that decor alone can’t manage, and at the bar, there’s much more than a cursory range of Japanese beers. Whether it’s the excellent (and seven per cent) Hitachino Red Rice ale, one of the 20 plus Japanese whiskeys, or just the more local draught O’Hara’s you choose to accompany your nibbles, you’ll enjoy it with a DJ playing (generally non-Japanese) from behind the bar, a Kurosawa film unfolding confusingly on the wall and a short skip to a back alley that’s been artfully painted as the back alley of a dodgy Tokyo bar. Izakaya indeed.
Honourable mentions: The Hop House, Bar Tengu, Bonga Karaoke, Ukiyo KmcD
Best outdoors area
11-12 Richmond Street South, Dublin 2
In terms of outdoor areas, it almost feels like the Bernard Shaw – invariably just “the Shaw” – is cheating. For one thing, the big back garden is bigger than the slightly pokey bar interior itself, and comes with a range of amenities that wouldn’t really fit inside. Sure, you could squeeze the pool table or the cocktail bar in somewhere, but you’d have a hard time finding room for the Dublin’s most eminent portable pizza vehicle, the Big Blue Bus. More than that, though, the Shaw’s outdoor expanse manages one thing even the most enclosed, decorated smoking areas don’t: it doesn’t feel like a ghetto. Non-smokers won’t feel antsy to get back to seats inside; this is already where the action is.
Honourable mentions: Vintage Cocktail Club, Noname, Odessa, Hacienda, Toners KmcD
Best quiet pint
129 The Coombe, Dublin 8
Strange to think that one of Dublin’s best places for a “quiet pint” should be a stone’s throw from a junction that used to be known as the “Four Corners of Hell” on account of it’s selection of rambunctious public houses. Unlike many surrounding pubs however, Fallons is a survivor, drawing both from local auld fellas and a more bohemian crowd from the art studios and galleries dotted around Francis Street and NCAD. Fallons is not about lounging summer pints on the street like its more glamourous cousins in the city centre – it’s dark and snug, hidden away on the Coombe but armed with both an endearingly unprepossessing air and, trite as it sounds, a stellar pint of Guinness.
Honourable mentions: J&M Cleary, The Hacienda Bar, The Library Bar, The Black Sheep IL
64-65 South George’s Street, Dublin 2
There’s something brilliantly cheesy about the dancers at The Dragon on George’s Street, a gay bar that draws a mostly male crowd with an emphasis on thumping commercial dance music and beefed up pop remixes. Tattooed and buff, all tiny hot pants and shiny, sculpted bodies, they work it on scaffolding above the club’s long bar, an elevated set up that looks slightly more precarious than it probably is. Nevertheless, the stomping sometimes causes bar staff to look up slightly nervously, a testament to the enthusiasm and energy of the moves going on up above.
Honourable mentions: Junior Spesh at Twisted Pepper, The Mezz, Dice Bar UM
Against The Grain
11 Wexford Street, Dublin 2
Craft beers are now the default selection in many Dublin bars, a blessing for those bored with generic, weak lagers. This, along with its sister bar The Black Sheep on Capel Street, (and three other boozers in Galway) deserves a lot of credit for switching the taste buds of drinkers on to more interesting brews with dozens of bottled labels from around the world, and a decent draft selection. Plus, if you don’t know what you’re after, the staff are helpful (and patient) when it comes to finding a new drink to suit your tastes, from IPAs to rich stouts, indie lagers and delicious ciders.
Honourable mentions: Brew Dock, The Porterhouse, Twisted Pepper,
W J Kavanagh’s UM
Best comedy club
Dublin Improv , The International
23 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2
Celebrating its 21st next month, Dublin Improv is sometimes overlooked in favour of stalwart laugh houses. But the comedy is always fresh, and years of performing together have given the improv gang superb timing and chemistry. A joy.
Honourable mentions: The Comedy Crunch, Death of Comedy, Talk Talk, Stand Up and Answers EC
Best early house
Dark Horse Inn Breakfast Club
2 George’s Quay, Dublin 2
Probably the only early house in Dublin playing techno, the Breakfast Club is taking cues from European clubs with a party that never sleeps. Over the past two years it has attracted both well-respected DJs and a dedicated crowd – expect excellent tunes and lots of White Russians. A far cry from the scarier side of early-doors pubs.
Honourable mentions: The Boar’s Head, The Windjammer EC
The Blind Pig
Secret Location, Dublin 8
This arcane speak-easy has been operating out of various city centre spaces over the past year. Armed with only a number and an instruction you’ll be transported back to prohibition era with proper drinks and proper manners. Take your Instagram elsewhere.
Honourable mentions: Vintage Cocktail Club, Damson Diner, Cellar Bar at the Merrion, The Mint Bar, Koh EC
Best off licence
25 Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Redmond’s of Ranelagh started its life in 1943 as a dedicated green grocer and has remained a family business during its overhaul into one of the best drinks dispensaries in Dublin. Winner of the 2012 Off-Licence of the Year Award , you’ll find everything from fine wine to the strongest lager in the world (The Santa Claus Beer from Austria).There’s a drink for every budget with prices ranging from €5,000 for a Midleton 20 year old whiskey to the bargain of four American craft beers for a tenner. Deliveries are available to local environs for those who want the best brought to their doorstep.
Honourable mentions: Deveney’s, Probus Wines & Spirits, Whelan’s, The Corkscrew, Martins EC