New poitín bar in Dublin opens its doors
Food File: Bar 1661 will specialise in Irish spirits; Italian food in Galway, midweek farmers’ market in Glasnevin, and posh picnics
Bar 1661, a poitin cocktail bar just off Capel Street in Dublin 7
Poitín, which was given legal recognition in 1997 after more than 300 years in the shadows as a banned, farmyard-produced spirit of dubious origins, now has a smart Dublin cocktail bar dedicated to it.
Dave Mulligan, a Dubliner who made his name as a mixologist in the London cocktail scene, has opened Bar 1661 – named after the year in which poitín was banned in Ireland – on Green Street, near Capel Street, in Dublin 7. The bar specialises in Irish spirits, particularly poitín, and has a full menu of alcoholic drinks.
“We wanted to mix it up, to have something for the traditionalist as well as the adventurer, and most of all to showcase the great things being produced on the island. From big brands to small producers, craft beer to Guinness and poitín from 40 per cent abv to 90 per cent abv, we promise we’ll be anything but boring,” Mulligan says.
In 2013 Mulligan created his own brand of the spirit, Bán Poitín, which is made for him by the Echlinville Distillery in Co Down. It is served at the Savoy and the Connaught hotels in London and on sale in Selfridges, and Fortnum & Mason.
Bar 1661 is open from noon every day and serves lunch from noon to 3pm, bar food in the evenings and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Italian food in Galway
Il Vicolo Restaurant and Wine Bar’s charming heated riverside dining terrace, the only one of its kind in Galway city, has reopened for the summer with a new menu of Italian food and an extended wine list stretching to more than 80 bottles, all from Italy.
The restaurant is in the basement of the Bridgemills building, in the city’s West End, having moved there from Buttermilk Walk in 2014.
Opening hours have also been extended, in anticipation of long, warm summer evenings on the terrace. Happy hour cocktails are €6 from 5-7pm on weekdays and 4-6pm Saturday and Sunday, and the Sunday evening jazz night runs from 7pm to 10.30pm.
The popular Honest2Goodness farmers’ market which has been running for the past 10 years on Saturdays in the Dublin Industrial Estate in Glasnevin, has introduced a Thursday evening Twilight market. Run by Bríd Carter and her brother and business partner Colm Carter, the market is one strand of their joint-venture, the other being H2G Wines, an importation and wholesale business.
The two come together for the Thursday evening market (5-9pm), when the emphasis is on dropping in to stock up on food and wine for the weekend, while also having a snack or a meal purchased from one or more of the vendors. There is a wine bar with a revolving selection sold by the glass alongside cheese and charcuterie platters that are anything but run of the mill. A current favourite is the Ulster plate, which has Ballylisk triple cream cheese, bacon jam from Erne Larder, and Tartine walnut sourdough.
Other food offerings include small plates from Lilliput Stores; Lovin Catering’s pastries and pies; BJ’s Burmese curries; Plenitude Salads; Brötchen German food platters; Beo Vegan Kitchen; Ben’s Patty wagon burgers, tempura prawns and calamari; and C+H’s dark chocolate brownies, ice cream and non-alcoholic cocktails.
Next month, a Chef’s Kitchen will be introduced, with guest chefs invited to do pop-ups. John Coffey of Thyme Restaurant in Athlone launches this initiative on August 15th. Food shoppers will be able to order online via neighbourfood.ie and collect their fresh produce on Thursdays between 5pm and 7pm.
Laze on a sunny afternoon
If a sunny day picnic in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin sounds like a lovely idea, but a lot of trouble, Balfes restaurant at the Westbury hotel on Balfe Street is providing wicker picnic baskets packed with food and drink, and a woollen blanket to lounge on.
The hampers serve two and contain a charcuterie board with cured meats, ham hock terrine, pâté, olives and pickles; sourdough bread and dips (hummus and basil and cashew pesto); superfood salads of roast beetroot, quinoa, feta, sprouting broccoli, toasted seeds and pomegranate seeds; and strawberry pots for dessert. For vegetarians, a cheese board can be substituted for the charcuterie. They come with a choice of pink lemonade (€60), or two 200ml snipes of Pommery Pop champagne (€110).
Once you’ve finished, you pack up the glasses, plates and cutlery, and return the basket to the restaurant, no later than 8pm. The picnic hampers must be booked 24 hours prior to collection (12.30-5pm only), by telephoning 01-6463353.