We spend plenty of time in the short summer searching for and recommending the elusive al fresco drinking spots but what about the much longer chilly winter months? What are the best pubs in Dublin to settle into and for hot whiskeys, chatty pints, comfy seats and maybe even a snug or a fireplace? Dublin does seem to do cosy pubs well, here's a few I’ve found that perfect for getting in from the cold.
Behind net curtains on über-cool South William street, lies the old-fashioned charm of Peters Pub, a firm Christmas drinks favourite with lots of people for good reason. Thankfully they’ve snubbed the urge to modernise the bar over the years, instead opting to keep the traditional interiors well kept and welcoming. Settle into the cosy banquette seats or a coveted snug on cold days and enjoy the calmness of no TVs or music. In proper pub style, there is a basic menu of soup and sandwiches on offer too.
The Blackbird, 82 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6
The Blackbird in Rathmines, all mismatched wooden furniture and dim candlelight, manages to be both cosy and cool at the same time. An eclectic playlist is balanced out with a brilliant selection of board games on hand and a log burning fire in a hidden back room. An extensive craft beer menu and a bar team that are always keen to get you tasting mean you’ll find your perfect winter beer in no time. Bonus points for always having a stash of retro crisps to keep you sustained.
If winter weather permits, a walk in the Phoenix Park followed by a warm-up in The Hole in the Wall makes for a very enjoyable afternoon. Dating back as far as 1651, this heritage pub brings another level to the term 'old-school'. Low ceilings, dark wood, exposed brick interiors are packed with pub and presidential paraphernalia, it’s a busy spot in more ways than one. At Christmas expect an explosion of OTT decor. They pull a great pint and serve a well-renowned pub food.
A pub lover's favourite, Keogh's seems to encapsulate everything a traditional Dublin bar should be. Dark mahogany doors, a warren of snugs and partitions, stained glass — they’ve done an excellent job of maintaining the original Victorian interiors. Order what is considered to be one of the best pints in the city from the low bar, packed with wooden drawers behind it (it was once a grocer's too). It’s a perfect for spot for winter catch-up and chats.
Escape from the business of town by heading upstairs to the charming Library Bar — a unique city centre find that nails an easy, at-home vibe. This is the ideal spot for a quiet drink, that well needed catch up or simply a spot of people watching. Decked out with comfortable couches, a scattering of lamps, no music and a warming fireplace, you may never want to leave.
The wonderful Cobblestone in Smithfield calls itself ‘a drinking pub with a music problem’ - a great description for what is one of the most fun, laid-back pubs in the city. Head here for traditional music seven days a week and proper pub vibes in the cosy old-school lounge.
The Gingerman Dublin, 40 Fenian Street, Dublin 2
This is the place to go for Christmas feels. Come December, the interior is loaded down with twinkling fairy lights and festive decor. Amongst the madness, there’s a mixture of nooks, snugs and bar seating but grab your place early as it’s a busy pub packed with after work drinkers, students and tourists. Settle in for a Gingerman IPA, super friendly service and a hearty pub menu of pies, stews and fish and chips. A great all-rounder.
Upstairs at Delahunt was once the ‘good room’ of the family residing at 39 Camden Street and you still get that feeling you’ve been allowed in somewhere special when you climb the stairs to find the Sitting Room bar. The lovingly restored space, decked out with achingly stylish mid-century furniture serves decadent cocktails and tasteful snacks from a tiny bar. Order the punch bowl and enjoy the window seat overlooking buzzy Camden Street. The cocktail bar is walk-in only and subject to availability on the night.
Whiskey lovers will do well to find this hidden gem just off Grafton Street. The Dublin Whiskey Museum is also home to a wonderful bar you can access without doing the tour (although I would recommend it too). Climb the stairs to find a compact lounge and a brilliant selection of whiskey, as well as regular bar favourites and Guinness on tap. Do your best to nab the window seats overlooking the historic main gates of Trinity College, which may be one of the most unique views in the city, especially in the snow.
John Kavanagh ‘The Gravediggers’ 1 Prospect Square, Glasnevin
Tucked away amongst the residential red bricks of Glasnevin, you’ll find The Gravediggers — a weathered wooden pub with a bar steeped in history, waiting to be settled into for a pint of plain. There’s always someone on hand to tell a few stories about the pub and usually a few out-of-towners soaking it up and signing the massive, well-worn guest book. In the newer side of the pub, there’s a relaxed tapas menu, perfect for a feed if you’ve managed to fit in a cemetery stroll too.
Nestled into a cosy corner where Clanbrassil Street meets the canal, you’ll find MVP. Inside the dark interiors, low light and retro furniture make for a welcoming local boozer offering an extensive drinks menu and some surprisingly refined cocktails. They’ve some excellent winter warmers on and at the weekend's food comes from festival favourites Grálinn. Board games and frequent events listings mean there’s always something to keep you entertained too.