Dublin’s Virgin Mary alcohol-free bar to open in Abu Dhabi

We gave the world the Irish pub. Now we’re giving them the alcohol-free Irish pub ...

The Virgin Mary Bar, 54 Capel Street, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

The Virgin Mary Bar, 54 Capel Street, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

 

It has the makings of a new ballad. The Virgin Mary Bar – Ireland’s vaguely sacrilegiously monikered alcohol-free bar on Dublin’s Capel St – is being exported, to the United Arab Emirates.

Ireland, long struggling against stereotypes of drunkenness, exported the Irish pub to the world, and is now exporting the alcohol-free Irish pub to… the UAE.

The Virgin Mary Bar, which claims to be Ireland’s only alcohol-free bar, has announced its first international franchise, in UAE capital Abu Dhabi. Irish eyes will be smiling at the oddity of exporting a bar with no beer (well, no alcoholic beer), but with a Catholic-flavoured name, to a part of the world where women are often veiled, as the Virgin Mary once was.

The Virgin Mary Dublin (VMD) franchise partnership is with MBT Restaurant Management (part of a UAE real estate company).

The high-end bar due to open this summer in Abu Dhabi’s Galleria Al Maryah Island will be known as TVM, which both continues the acronyms and avoids the confusing religious vibes. It promises “the look, taste, and excitement of a bar, just simply without the alcohol”.

Virgin Mary Dublin says the “innovative wellbeing bar” in the Galleria Al Maryah Island will be among the mall’s array of top tier brands, independent retailers and international cuisine restaurants including Zuma, Coya and La Petite Maison.Founder and co-owner Vaughan Yates is aiming for “a new socialising paradigm for the global market” with his no-alcohol bar concept, which he started in 2019: “When we first opened the Virgin Mary in Ireland, it was always our goal to see it spread to cosmopolitan cities worldwide”.

TVM “drinks creator” Anna Walsh has built an alcohol-free cocktail menu and they’re planning food and drink pairings.

Anna Walsh of The Virgin Mary Bar. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.
Anna Walsh of The Virgin Mary Bar. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.
Alcohol-free drinks at the Virgin Mary bar on Capel Street in Dublin
Alcohol-free drinks at the Virgin Mary bar on Capel Street in Dublin

Niveen Ibrahim of MBT observes: “People in the UAE will now get to experience a fully-fledged refined bar in a mall, and we will teach them how to drink differently.”

TVM Abu Dhabi will be recruiting Irish team members for front-of-house “to bring TVM’s unique Irish personality to the Middle East’s first alcohol-free bar and restaurant”.

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