The Emerald Isle, a land known for its pubs and famous black beer! While we do enjoy a well pulled pint of Guinness, you know our true hearts desire lies in the depths of a well-hidden speakeasy flowing with luscious libations and a sultry atmosphere. On our week-long trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland, we aimed to find at least one hidden bar for you to enjoy no matter the point of interest on the island! And with that, here is the much anticipated Listicle for speakeasies of Ireland.
Our first stop was in Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland (not to be confused with neighboring country, The Republic of Ireland). Margot was an excellent start to our Emerald Isle tour, they were open for lunch and allowed us an early pop in to gain sustenance in the form of both alcohol and fantastic food. This bar does not offer typical pub fare – the menu was as culturally diverse as it was intricate. Our Katsu chicken sandwich with string fries and plum ketchup was delicious.
But the true star of Margot were the cocktails, and they were exquisite. We started with a refreshing Fig Highball – an herbaceous vodka cocktail lightened with ginger ale. Then moved to a true spirit forward cocktail called Widow’s Kiss. This libation had whiskey, yellow chartreuse, mixed with a few other flavors including plum and blackberry jam; truly fantastic!
2 The Prince of Wales
Ashford Castle | Rating 3.5 / 5.0 | Visited: April 2023
Driving to the West side of Ireland (the Republic of Ireland now), we stayed at Ashford Castle. This castle is a famous 5 star hotel that is known for its service, food, and grandiose rooms. Lucky for us, it also had a wonderful bar tucked inside. Now the Prince of Wales bar is not a true speakeasy – but you have to know its there to find it, and it has a vintage atmosphere from a bygone era that we also appreciate spending an afternoon sitting in.
Most importantly, the Prince of Wales would not have made this list if it did not offer top of the line craft cocktails – and it hit the mark. The bar is stocked with only top of the line spirits, including a limited edition gin made in partnership with the Irish Gunpowder Gin using ingredients from the property. We had to bring a bottle home! My favorite libation ordered was a whiskey and egg white concoction that had flavors of apple and pear, a beautifully balanced cocktail.
Cork | Rating 3.0 / 5.0 | Visited: April 2023
Headed South to Cork, we find a really neat hidden bar called Upstairs, and you guessed it, you can find it above it’s parent establishment – Arthur Mayne’s. This intimate bar had a funky vibe that gave off a relaxed groovy atmosphere. The two tiny rooms that make up the space provide a few tables for intimacy among guests and friends.
The drinks here were fun and unusual. We first ordered Full O’ Beans, a smoky mezcal with peach and egg whites, followed by Who Took the Soup #4 which arrived in an actual oriental soup bowl. We love a bar that doesn’t take its self too seriously and promotes its fun creative nature.
4 Peruke & Periwig
Dublin | Rating 4.0 / 5.0 | Visited: April 2023
In all of Ireland, Dublin has the most pubs, bars, and speakeasies to choose from. Any type of theme or atmosphere you’re looking for can be found in this capital city flowing with drinks. Our first Dublin stop was to the much acclaimed Peruke & Periwig. This little hole in the wall is a dark rustic room on the lower level for walk ins reminiscent of a castle dungeon mixed with a knights of templar secret pub. While this level is plenty enjoyable for the drinks alone, to truly experience P&P you need to make a reservation to be seated upstairs.
In two upper levels you will find Victorian lairs full of pink crushed velvet, walls of bookshelves and mirrors, and an opulence fit for any royalty. These areas are table service by reservation only. Each level has its own bar and tender to supply libations with ease.
Peruke & Periwig had our favorite cocktails of the entire trip. The Cold S’mores libation was a heavenly liquid dessert I could drink every day. The bartender made the custom pink marshmallow vodka herself that day and of course flambeed a few marshmallows on top for garnish. We also ordered a refreshing Back in Black which took a whiskey mule to a new level with flavors of cinnamon and pear. This is the bar we will return to on any trip to Dublin.
5 The Blind Pig
Dublin | Rating 3.5 / 5.0 | Visited: April 2023
A true honor to Prohibition, a “blind pig” or “blind tiger” was a venue for the lower class to get their hands on moonshine. The Blind Pig in Dublin continues this tradition as a fun basement bar found behind a bookshelf underneath an Italian restaurant. The establishment is narrow and dark creating the feel of secrecy without feeling in any way pretentious.
Dinner is available, and delicious. We saw many couples together for an intimate dinner date in a great space that transports you a little back in time. The drinks were potent and smokey, served with no flair but in a way you’d expect from the lower class blind pig (but with much better cocktails than bathtub gin!). Make sure to book a reservation to find how to get behind the bookshelf.
6 The Little Pig
Dublin | Rating 4.5 / 5.0 | Visited: April 2023
The super secret sister bar to Blind Pig is The Little Pig. A reservation is necessary for this tiny bar not only to secure your space, but to obtain instructions for how to find the venue itself. And there are a lot of steps: a code, an alley, a sign, and a password. It was the most fun entrance we’ve had in a long time, and the nature of a true speakeasy!
Unlike a blind pig or tiger, a speakeasy was an opulent space dedicated to the rich and famous for their illegal libations. The Little Pig sets the scene for opulence with red velvet, subtle leather, and vintage tasseled lamps. It is a beautiful space, very intimate without feeling cramped due to the limited number of patrons the space can accommodate.
The drink menu is extensive with tastes for all pallets. We particularly enjoyed the Salty Block which you can customize with your spirit of choice. We chose the Teeling Spirit of Dublin; an Irish novelty. The drinks were heavy on the spirits and will certainly be your last stop of the night with their potency.
The highlight of The Little Pig is certainly the entrance and is not to be missed for a true prohibition experience.
There are many other speakeasies in Ireland, specifically in Dublin, that we couldn’t make it to, but we are very happy with the stops we made and hope you will love them as well!
As the Irish say, Slainte!
Your dedicated Private Libation Investigators