In a previous life I spent three years working beside this famed bar, yet never once popping in for a pint. Hundreds of times I’ve walked by The Bank while tourists and locals alike stopped to peak in the doors to get a look at the stunning interiors. That changed one sunny Monday afternoon when I finally stopped in for a refreshing drink to recharge my batteries.
The Bank is located on the bustling College Green in the heart of Dublin. Owned by the Chawke Pub Group, the people behind The Dropping Well and Searsons of Baggot Street it has been a staple of the busy street for many years.
In 1892 The Belfast Bank bought the magnificent building from the British Mutual. Following a two year renovation the building was restored to the grandest Victorian splendor.
Walking up the steps into The Bank you are greeted by a life sized statue of Con Houlihan. One of Ireland’s most famed sport’s journalists. Fond of a pint he was no stranger to the pubs of Dublin, so it is very fitting to see his face when you arrive.
The original Chatwood safes from the bank are still intact down in the vaults (sadly they don’t contain the treasure that they once held), as are the impressive marble columns with gold leaf design.
There is an exact replica of The Book of Kells in the bar, so if the queues at Trinity College are too long (which often they are), why not pop into The Bank and see the equally impressive faux version. Grab yourself a drink while you’re there of course!
As it was such a stunning (and rare) sunny day I decided to go for an ice cold cocktail. The cocktail list has a decent offering. Divided up into the the classic including Bloody Mary’s, Martinis and Old Fashioned’s, the sparkling cocktails such as Bellini’s and the usual suspects of whiskey sours. There is definitely something to whet your whistle.
The gin offering is slightly limited in the Irish gin department but they make up for it with the Irish whiskey selection is much better with over 34 whiskeys on offer ranging from €5.00 for Jameson and Paddys to €23.00 for Connemara 22 Year Old.
I settled on the Mint Julep (€11.00) served with your choice of Teelings Irish Whiskey or Bulleit Bourbon. Being the patriot I am, I of course choose the Irish whiskey. The cocktail arrived in a ice cold frosted silver glass, filled to the brim with crushed iced and garnished with a fresh sprig of mint. It looked as pretty as a picture!
My friend chose a Dungarvan Helvick Gold Blonde Ale (€6.50) from Waterford. This thirst quenching beer is full of fruity aromas. It is the ideal summer drink. The eco-warrior in me was delighted to note the cocktail was served with a paper straw (no plastic straws were available at all – these baddies take over 200 years to decompose).
It’s great to see bars and restaurants becoming more environmentally aware, so already my visit to The Bank was already off to a good start.
While we were enjoying the many points of interest in the bar, I noticed a fabulous cheeseboard whizzing past me in the hands of a waitress. I’ll admit I am a cheese fiend and couldn’t help but place and order.
Out came a pretty looking board with a good selection of cheeses, along with a little cheese guide about each one. The board included Ardrahan, Cashel Blue, Cooleeny, Kileen and Hegarty’s – all served with honey, quince jelly, strawberries, grapes & selection of crackers (€12.00).
If you’re not looking for a full meal you can also choose from a fresh seafood platter or Irish charcuterie board to nibble on while you enjoy your drinks.
To pair with the cheese board I ordered an Les Esperons Pinot Noir 2016 (8.50) from Languedoc France. The wine was beautifully easy to drink and paired well with the cheeseboard. It was full bodied and complex with rich notes of plum.
For a cocktail, one beer, one glass of wine, one coffee and cheeseboard the bill came to €41.00. It was very good value and was a pleasure to while away a couple of hours in the decadent surrounds and watch the world go by.
The Bank Bar and Restaurant
20-22 College Green
T: +353 1 6770677
REVIEW BY SINÉAD SMYTH