We all love our locals but there’s something inherently satisfying about stumbling upon a new or less obvious bar, or even just the cultural cache of knowing where they are should you need them. And despite ‘secret’ bars not being that secret anymore (most can be found with quick Google), these are a few spots we think are worth seeking out. Hunting down these hidden bars of Dublin will make that first sip all the sweeter.
The Open Gate Brewery, St. James Gate, Dublin 8
Image: The Open Gate Brewery via Twitter
While Guinness can hardly be called hidden or secret, seeking out the lesser-known Open Gate Brewery feels like a real insider find. It’s their home of brewing, experimentation and innovation and sits just up the street from the famous black gates. The bar is housed among the high-ceiling brewery and only open Thursday to Saturday when you’ll have to book and buy tickets. But once in, you get to chat to the brewers and drink from beer tasting boards made up of classic Guinness, the latest brewer project releases, small-batch versions of experimental beers and other brew projects from around the world that you can’t try anywhere else.
Probus Wines, 26 Fenian Street, Dublin 2
Image: Probus via Facebook
Behind a modest shop front on a quiet Fenian Street, you’ll find this under-the-radar off-licence with a difference, boasting a brilliant drinks selection to drink in or take out. Browse the fridges, packed with over 100 craft beers from small batch to world brews, or choose from one of the three beer taps. Chat to the knowledgeable staff about wines, with most available by the glass or bottle. There’s an evening tapas-style menu and charcuterie boards. A perfect stop off for clandestine chats and catch ups.
The Gold Bar, Hang Dai, 20 Camden Street Lwr, Dublin 2
Image: Hang Dai Chinese
Firstly, locate the unassuming Chinese takeaway-style shop front. Pass the waving Maneki-neks and head up the dark stairs to find a plush drinking den serving excellent, well-crafted cocktails. The compact room is decked out in red leather, brass and dark wood with a glittering, gold ceiling and a slick balcony to catch the sun when it’s out. Top notch bar snacks come from the busy Hang Dai kitchen downstairs. An ideal place for impressive & opulent weekend drinking. The bar is open Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays evenings and for private bookings.
The Stella Cocktail Club, 207 Rathmines Road Lower, Dublin 6
Image: The Stella
Housed above the lovingly restored Stella Cinema in Rathmines, you’ll find this plush, art-deco inspired cocktail bar. You don’t need to be heading to the cinema to come here and the bar alone is worth a trip, all dim lighting and speakeasy vibes. Grab a table and order from a long list of classic and modern movie-inspired cocktails. There’s also a succinct and approachable snack menu, designed for moviegoers; think tacos, loaded nachos and chilli dogs.
The Underdog, 75 Dame Street, Dublin 2
Image: The Underdog via Facebook
Tucked away beneath Brogan’s Bar, beside the Olympia Theatre is a newish craft beer pub with a remarkable drinks list. Head down the stairs to the smart redbrick counter with white subway-tiled backdrop to find a bar dedicated to bringing the best breweries and new releases to a thirsty crowd. They focus on giving the ‘underdogs’, or the lesser known drinks, a platform so you’ll always find an array of brilliant craft brews pouring from the taps and an impressive 60-plus selection of bottles and cans to choose from.
The Hacienda Bar, 15 Little Mary Street, Dublin 7
Image: Hacienda via Facebook
You’ve probably heard of it and if you’ve walked by, you’ve definitely noticed it. The white stucco-style walls, small black windows and terracotta tiles make it quite striking. Seek it out - the Hacienda is unlike anything else in town. Behind the always-closed door (you’ll need to ring a bell and answer some questions to make it inside), you’ll find an eclectic, buzzing warren of rooms packed full of bar paraphernalia, a pool table, darts and classic 80s tunes. Claim a corner, grab a drink and try and spot some of the celebrities that often seem to have passed through.
John Kavanagh ‘The Gravediggers’ 1 Prospect Square, Glasnevin
Image: John Kavanagh's The Grave Diggers
Another pub you’ve probably heard of (as it’s been open since 1833) is The Gravediggers, but it’s not easy to stumble upon, tucked away amongst the residential red bricks of Glasnevin. But once you find it, it's worth showing off. Inside, you’ll find a weathered wooden room 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.
The Little Pig, Dublin 2
Image: The Little Pig
A classic hidden Dublin spot is The Blind Pig and now there is another addition with its sibling, The Little Pig. You’ll need to book online before you’ll be given the exact location of this glitzy, speakeasy-style spot, adding that extra bit of intrigue. Once you’ve located the secret door, settle into the decadent red velvet surrounds for top notch cocktails, well-known for being some of the best in the city. Choose from well made elevated classics or go all out with the Absinthe Drip, served with the traditional spoon and sugar.
Library Bar, Central Hotel, Exchequer Street, Dublin
Image: The Central Hotel via Facebook
Escape from the business of Exchequer Street by heading upstairs to the charming Library Bar, a unique city centre find that nails the 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 on a lazy day. Decked out with comfortable couches, scatterings of lamps and plenty of packed bookshelves, it’s designed to make you feel at home and it does just that. Add no music and warming fireplace and you may never want to leave.
The Sitting Room at Delahunt, 39 Camden Street Lwr, Dublin 2
Upstairs at Delahunt was once the ‘good room’ of the family residing at 39 Camden St, and you still get that feeling that 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 while you enjoy the window seat overlooking buzzy Camden Street. The cocktail bar is walk-in only and subject to availability on the night.