No gin at the inn: the sober pub

 

Anna Young is hoping to make sober sexy with her alcohol-free night spot in Dublin, writes SIMON TIERNEY

I AM IN a basement. A guitarist is tuning his instrument. I take a slug of my drink. The plucking of random chords gives way to the melody of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love. And we’re off; another Friday night in Dublin begins. But there is something different going on here.

I am not drinking beer. I am drinking fresh sencha green tea. This isn’t a club or a pub. It’s an alcohol-free late night café. This is Accents Lounge, one of Ireland’s few “sober pubs”. It looks like a cross between a sitting room and a high-end lounge-bar. Bean bags and sofas are positioned at satisfying angles. The lighting is warm, and the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans and herbal tea reminds me that I won’t be ordering a pint tonight. All the seats are occupied.

Accents operates all day and into the late evening, closing at 11pm on most nights. “I have always missed a late-night café in Dublin and was really disappointed that this capital city didn’t have one,” says Anna Young. She is the owner of Accents, and arrived in Ireland “on a one-way ticket and told myself that I will stay until I am not happy”.

There are people on their own, reading the paper; there are couples. There is a first date taking place beside me, the conversation hesitant. The atmosphere is easygoing and welcoming. “The atmosphere of a pub is completely different,” says 24-year-old Trinity student, Áine Flood. “It’s nice to have another option.”

Flood sees this type of late-night lounge as an alternative social model for the city. “I think Ireland could benefit from having alcohol-free options that are not stereotyped as ‘hippy’ . . . that we can accept it if someone doesn’t want alcohol and we don’t question why. It needs to be trendy . . . we need to make sober sexy, ” she says.

On the first Monday of the month, Accents hosts a comedy club. “People laugh as hard, listen and relax the same,” says Young, adding that there are no hecklers.

Accents Lounge, 23 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2, 01-4160040, accents-lounge.com

Alcohol-free nights out

Funky Seomra is a monthly, alcohol-free nightclub in the RDS (Merrion Road, Dublin 4). It also runs a quarterly event in Galway (Commercial Boat Club, Riverside, Wood Quay, Galway), and has started a new club night in Cork city. dancefree.ie

Milk and Cookie Stories is an alcohol-free arts, story-telling and home-baking collective. It meets on the second Tuesday of the month (6.30-10pm) in Exchange Dublin (Exchange Street Upper, Dublin 2). milkandcookiestories.com

Notmyround.comis a free app for people who enjoy an alcohol-free social life.

Tea Garden (7 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1) stays open until 11pm and has an extensive menu of exotic teas and tobacco-free shisha. tea-garden.eu

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