Mulligan was a witty medical student and the first character to appear in Ulysses, the classic novel by celebrated Irish author James Joyce. Haines was an Englishman who Mulligan befriended at Oxford. Mulligan & Haines is the latest pub to grace Dame Street and it is located in the same site where the fictional duo once met, back when the Dublin Bread Company functioned in the premises.
While in the novel they jokingly laughed at the venue’s former initials, D.B.C. saying they stood for “Damn Bad Cakes”, nowadays they might as well mean “Dapper Bar’s Craic” because that is exactly what you’ll find behind its recently refurbished facade.
Pub goers might have fond memories of the site’s previous life as the buzzy Sweeney’s Bar, and they’ll do well in paying a visit to the newest concept, as Mulligan & Haines is a more grown up proposition, yet still vibrant and with the friendly atmosphere that you expect from a good pub.
The nods and homages to Joyce’s work and era can be appreciated in the old-school charm of the decor where Victorian lines, texures and colours coexist with more contemporary additions such as neon signs, eye-catchy wall art and modern, intimate lightning.
Expect vintage photographs in ornate frames and comfortable, classic leather seats surrounding marble topped tables.
And the inspiration is not just architectural, as the bar’s cocktail list is comprised of signature drinks which channel the literary work that gives the place its theme. The prices were surprisingly reasonable, especially for a new and stylish venue across the street from Temple Bar, with no cocktail going above €9.50.
The menu is a bit unusual: instead of accompanying the drink with just a list of ingredients, the tipples’ names are followed by descriptions that hint to its characteristics in a slightly more poetic way; from a Strawberry Prince that’s “kissed with sugar” to a “wild and unpredictable” The Big Buck, quirkiness will spark your curiosity and thirst.
But worry not, if you and me share an aversion to surprises, let me reassure you there is no guesswork needed, as the staff will be happy to explain to you exactly what goes into your glass.
The first to be sipped was Utopia (€9.50), a vodka based cocktail with the flavours of caramel and apple juice. The drink, served in a Martini glass, was delicate and not overly syrupy while still ideal for those with a sweet tooth.
My guest’s Rum Tum Tiddley Tum (€9.50) was sharper and fruitier, with a base of Havana Club Rum mixed with cranberry juice and lime. Served in a tall glass, it could have been a Cosmopolitan’s tropical cousin.
The bar’s ambiance, with upbeat music played at moderate levels, invited conversation. We were told it gets louder as the evening progresses towards midnight.
Couples and groups of friends occupied most tables and thanks to a smart use of the space (a combination of an animated main floor and a few cosier private areas with the sleek bar as the central focus) you’ll find the right spot for your evening.
Because the bar is still very new, the first floor and the basement were not yet open on the night of our visit, however, they’re scheduled to be ready this month. Another feature that will soon be part of Mulligan & Haines is a food offering, which again, promises to be faithful to bar’s motive.
Time for a second round and we decided to taste A Lot Like Love (€9) and Sweet City (€9.50). The first one was a mellow combination of vodka, orange bitters and lemongrass syrup, lightly golden and honeyed tasting.
The second one, despite its name, wasn’t as sweet, although it was quite pleasant. Freshly squeezed orange juice and strawberries merged in a simple, fruity and fresh combination.
And feel free to colour outside the lines – if you fancy a cocktail that is not on the list, say the word and they’ll do their best to accommodate. Gin & Tonics are plentiful as they stock a good few Irish and international gins, and there’s also a fair amount of Irish whiskey to choose from. When I asked if they could mix me something different the waitress looking after us asked what I liked.
With strong flavours and Irish whiskey as her brief, she suggested a New York Float (€9.50). The delightful surprise was a colourful concoction that was one part Whiskey Sour, one part “I am surprised to find a big splash of Shiraz floating here, but it works.”
If you’re into beers, pints of the popular brands including Guinness are priced in the same range as in any other pub in the area. Feeling like something craftier? Franciscan Well will allow you to retain your craft beer cred.
Mulligan & Haines is a laid back and comfortable bar with friendly staff, beautiful surroundings and a drink to suit every palate. The bill, including five cocktails, arrived at €47.
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.