Summer is all about beer gardens, terraces and al fresco experiences but as the first leaves begin to fall and we start spending more time indoors, the hunt for non-weather dependent experiences is on, and while going to a pub and cosying up with friends and a pint is one of the most reliable ways to enjoy a chilly evening, sometimes one wants more.
Below you’ll find some of the Dublin bars and pubs that go the extra mile for your entertainment or that offer a different concept to the idea of simply sitting there and having drinks. Go for their atmosphere, stay for the cool activities they offer to complement your time out.
There is something quintessentially hipster in a venue that pours trendy craft beers and hosts bingo nights on Fridays and Saturdays. As if that didn’t do enough for its quirky cred, The Square Ball has an arcade room on the first floor which features old-school games including a Nintendo 64 (connected to a wide screen TV with modern speakers) and a ping pong table.
Did we mention they’ve a board game library with over 500 items? Some are free to play, some are premium and you’re allowed to bring your own.
Where: 45 Hogan Pl, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2
More information: the-square-ball.com
Modern Asian cuisine and cocktails are just the starter, at Ukiyo Bar the main attraction is the modern, soundproof karaoke rooms where you can choose from over 700 songs, from pop legends like Michael Jackson or Madonna to rock ‘n’ roll icons and everything in between. The rooms’ price start from €30 an hour for groups of up to 10 people and while they are open everyday, booking is essential.
Where: 9 Exchequer St, Dublin 2
More information: ukiyobar.com
How can you be indoors and outdoors at the same time? Get on a boat! This unique floating restaurant is simply one of those must-try experiences in Dublin, you will enjoy food and drink while cruising the beautiful Grand Canal. Share a rich bottle of red wine on a crisp autumn evening while watching the sunset or bring in your friends as the place is fabulous for parties.
Where: MV Riasc, Mespil Road Jetty, Grand Canal, Dublin 4
More information: lapeniche.ie
This recent addition to the Dublin bar scene describes itself as a “restaurant, bar, retro arcade, pinball parlour and event space” with over 30 game machines and over 20 craft beers to go with their menu, composed of high-end street food. Besides their everyday games, Token frequently runs events so keep an eye as they cover many hobbies.
Where: 72-74 Queen Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7
More information: tokendublin.ie
Part of the Galway Bay Brewery family and connected to the stunning Conrad Hotel, this comfortable and relaxed pub is always a safe bet for great craft beer and while you’re at it, you can distract yourself with their pool table or playing ping pong. On Tuesdays and Sundays, there is a board games meetup run by Board Games Ireland and open to everyone and with plenty of games to choose from (you’re welcome to bring your own and play with other guests).
Where: Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, 2
More information: galwaybaybrewery.com/alfiebyrnes
Described as a “social interactive sports bar & entertainment venue” it features 5 ping pong tables, 4 pool tables, one American style pool table, 2 shuffle board tables and 2 foosball tables. You can hire a game table for you and your friends or book a full area for a party or corporate event. Drinks include sleep cocktails, beers (both mainstream and craft) and wine, and if you arrive with an appetite, there are pizzas and bar bites. They also happen to have 12 large screens in case you fancy watching the game.
Where: 13-17 Fleet St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
More information: buskersontheball.com
Choose from their weekly ping pong tournament, their retro-game evenings or their collection of over 100 board games. This pub is way more than good atmosphere, great craft beer and menu that combines pizzas with brunch favorites, sandwiches and a surprisingly good selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. They also have a PS4 where you can play FIFA as well as a Nintendo Wii and an XBox, but if you rather a less virtual craic, they’ve a foosball table and darts… You’ll surely keep busy while having your pint here.
Where: 199 Phibsborough Rd, Phibsborough, Dublin 7
More information: the-back-page.com
Great pub food, a consistently flawless pint of Guinness and a few craft beers to entice the adventurous palates. What else can you ask to a classic pub? What about one of the coolest pub quizzes in town, every Thursday from 9:30 pm. While numerous pubs host frequent quiz nights, this one is a bit different as it’s a smartphone pub quiz: “no pen, no paper, no cheating”, free to enter and with drinks vouchers waiting for the winners.
Where: 5 Sandford Rd, Dublin 6
More information: mcsorleys.ie
While this is not exactly a bar, it’s a cool place to start your night out, specially if the idea of dolling up while sipping on a Gin & Tonic appeals to you. Treat yourself to a professional blow dry look and enjoy a free Gin & Tonic, complimentary glass of Prosecco or coffee. Tunes by their in-house DJs will help to get you ready for a big night out and in fact, you can actually book this unique space and host your own celebration with pampering and toasting.
Where: 15 Wicklow Street & 16 Merrion Row
More information: dryandfly.com
There’s always something going on at The Sugar Club. The venue, which once was a film theatre, functions in its current form since 1999 and has become a place known for its creative event. With a calendar that includes a different event every night, you’ll find an eclectic mix of fun, arts and unique acts.
Gigs, movie screenings, themed parties, burlesque performances, exhibitions and more, you name it. Enjoy a drink in their bar area or face the stage and let them entertain you. (Image Dara Munnis Photography)
Where: 8 Lower Leeson Street, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin 2
More information: thesugarclub.com
Learn to make amazing cocktails with the experts. Not only you’ll bring with you a few new party tricks, you’ll enjoy world class mixing in a seriously cool venue. While they offer longer courses with a professional approach, their “fun and social courses for enthusiasts” are ideal for groups, whether celebrating an occasion or simply eager to do something different. They’ve a number of group experiences you can book, but if you’re looking for something in particular talk to them as they can help you arrange many different types of events. Ah, and they’ve a pool table.
Where: 141 North King Street, Arran Quay, Dublin 7
More information: dublinbaracademy.com
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.