Dublin is full of hidden gems, and it is also home to many of the country’s best cocktail bars. Going for drinks should be an experience, and at this particular city centre bar this is truly the case. Cocktails are aplenty, as is the opulence, and before you’ve even stepped in the door you’re intrigued. And this is always a great sign of a memorable night ahead.
On a mild Thursday evening, I had booked my friend and I into The Little Pig, one of Dublin’s most unusual cocktail bars and the little sister of Paul Lambert’s renowned Blind Pig. After making a reservation, you’ll receive an email with instructions about its whereabouts and its distinctive entrance – a black, wooden gate in between the AIB bank and Mary’s pub on Wicklow Street.
Once located, I rang the phone number as per instruction, answering that “I’m here for the old lady’s funeral.”
With a combined hint of confusion and excitement in my utterance, the other voice guided me through the gate with a simple code and told me to “follow the street, up the staircase and to ring the bell”. Are you drawn in yet?
Upon ringing the tiny doorbell at the top of a back alley staircase, to enter the cocktail bar, a plush 1920s speakeasy. Greeted by Oisín, we were shown to our bar-side seats within The Little Pig. Red velvet on the walls, liquor of all sorts on the shelves, we sure were in for a treat.
Mixologist and bartender Oisín explained the ethos of the bar, going through each cocktail on the menu before allowing us our own time to gawk through the pages. For my introductory cocktail, I opted for the Rested El Presidente #1 (€11.50).
Firstly, the presentation of my cocktail was wonderful, and secondly its story was fascinating. Explaining the difference between the legendary president of Mexico’s favourite two drinks, I poured the house Vermouth and Bacardi 8 Year Old Rum mix over the Angostura Bitters before taking my first sip.
Between the rested vermouth and the well aged rum that sits within a vat on the bar, topped with a Mexican sombrero given by the Mexican President himself and the one-month rested bitters, this was a strong but still sweet combination, accentuated by a sliver of orange peel.
My friend’s Classic Martini (€15.50) was very nice too, a gin twist on the classic without too much fuss. Choosing Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, the cocktail was mixed with French Dry Vermouth and Blind Pig’s Orange Bitters to give a sharp taste with a sweet aftertaste.
Our mixologist also asked us to sample his special cocktail, a drink he is to enter into the Bacardi Legacy 2017, the annual worldwide cocktail competition. We happily did so and it was very refreshing, acidic and not overly sweet – we wished him the best of luck.
A little while later, after our first round had been well polished, we had another look through the menu for our next choice. This time round, I chose the Carbonated White Negroni using Cattier NV Champagne (€12.50).
Arriving in a beautiful tumbler glass, the mix of Blackwater No.5 Gin, Luxardo White Bitter and Cocchi Americano was topped with the freshly popped champagne, and a stack of ice cubes. Strong and very smooth, this cocktail was truly delightful that was well-rounded by the fizz.
My friend had opted for the Harry Johnson Manhattan c. 1888 (€11.50) as her second drink. This combined Bulleit Rye Whiskey with Blind Pig Vermouth, Luxardo Maraschino and a bold Absinthe Mist. I did try it, and though my friend adored it, it wasn’t my cup of tea – that said, it was very well mixed with a hidden maraschino cherry too.
The atmosphere within this speakeasy was wonderful, and many other guests also joining the cocktail party with a bite to eat. I spotted large pizzas with heavenly smells, a high-stacked burger, as well as a lobster pasta dish that looked divine. I couldn’t fault anything about our evening, the staff are very attentive, the music low and the lights dimmed to reflect their vintage vibes.
Considering the luxurious hand-picked ingredients, and the excellent attention to detail when preparing and serving the cocktails, it’s safe to say that I will be back again. In fact, we enjoyed our cocktails and the experience so much, that we returned two hours later for a nightcap!
For our four cocktails, the bill came to a nicely rounded €50.
An enthusiastic foodie with a sweet tooth and love for spices, Nirina is open to a lot of food from many different cultures. A mixed background from Ireland and Madagascar, she loves tweaking recipes, dining at new restaurants, tasting new cuisines, or just a good glass of wine. Basically she really, really loves her food. Coming from a family of avid cooks, learning how to whip up the perfect tiramisu, spice up Indian curries or serve homemade samosa was a given.