Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Pub That is Not a Pub

Pub co-owners Oisin Davis (L) and Vaughan Yates (R) pose outside their Virgin Mary Bar, located @ 54 Capel Street, Dublin, Ireland, May 16, 2019. Image credit: AFP

Just two weeks ago, an Irish pub opened its doors. 

But this drinking haven is boldly different. Started by two enterprising Irishmen, The Virgin Mary is Ireland’s first alcohol-free bar. 

Located in what was once a furniture shop on Capel Street, the stylish bar seats 30 and offers a selection of cocktails, beers, and wines, all of which are non-alcoholic. 

Vaughan Yates and Oisin Davis, both of whom are veterans of the drinks industry, were inspired to go into this business after noticing both a growing appetite for non-alcoholic drinks and a gap in the market for an alcohol-free venue. 

The duo enlisted award-winning Anna Walsh (left) to devise a number of bespoke non-alcoholic cocktails. 

Walsh had made non-alcoholic cocktails before, but this was her first time creating a full menu. Without alcohol at her disposal, she was forced to experiment and play around with different flavours. 

“When you give yourself boundaries, you’re forced to be more creative”, she says. 

If you know your mocktails, you should be familiar that these taste like sugary facsimiles of the real thing. Both Walsh and Yates were keen to avoid clich├ęd mocktails and create drinks that tasted “grown-up”. 

The result is a range of cocktails designed to emulate the taste and mouthfeel of alcoholic drinks. 

The bar’s signature Virgin Mary is a hot and spicy non-alcoholic surrogate for the Bloody Mary. This is a cheeky play on the vodka-infused classic cocktail that is made of tomato juice, muscat, pickle, lime and spice.

And the Cedar’s Spritz (left) is a refreshing alternative to a gin and tonic made with non-alcoholic gin and sparkling wine.

Yates’ own go-to drink is a newly launched non-alcoholic aperitif called Everleaf, which tastes bitter and deceptively boozy.

There are also a selection of non-alcoholic beers with Mikkeller’s Drink in the Sun coming highly recommended.

The bar even serves a dark and creamy “iced nitro coffee” which they call Raven Nitro Coffee (right) that is poured from a beer tap to mimic Guinness, without which no traditional Irish pub would be complete. It mimics both the texture and appearance of Guinness when served chilled in a glass.

In other words, there are drinks to cater to every palate. 

Open from 4 PM to 11 PM each day, the bar aims to recreate the buzz and atmosphere of any other late-night venue with “lighting, music, and conversation”. 

Definitely for people who want to drink sans the alcohol – these “drinkers” too want to have a good time in a pub that is not a pub, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, the bar will appeal to those who are looking for more options when it comes to places to socialize with friends.

I hope it doesn't become just a novelty.

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