Similar to the US, Ireland is on the front-line of a massive whiskey revival and a subsequent rekindling of national and international interest in Irish whiskey. With this growing interest, and some clever marketing by new and existing distilleries of all sizes, the modern whiskey drinkers are no longer satisfied with the run of the mill whiskey bottle selection that was sold to every pub in the country and came with its own little wooden plinth. Instead pubs and bars have had to up their game and grow their selection almost competitively in order to draw in these new whiskey drinkers by offering a diverse selection of Irish and global whiskies which has led to the re-emergence of the whiskey bar scene. Offering both new and old whiskey drinkers a private space where they can drink old favourites or try something new, these whiskey bars have quickly become a place for locals and tourists alike. Therefore, with the new-found rise in popularity I thought it important to find these bars and review their selections as a whiskey-lover service to my fellow whiskey-loving people -so let’s begin!
Whiskey Bar at The Market Bar
Located on Dublin City’s famous Fade Street, the Market Bar has offered city-goers a proper meal and a stiff drink for many years. Already boasting a speakeasy-style cocktail bar upstairs, a restaurant with bar downstairs, and access to the Chelsea Drugstore cocktail bar through an austere set of double doors, the promise of a whiskey bar with over 100 whiskies from around the world (as pictured) is the reason I found myself there on a sunny day.
Enter through the double doors and a wide open restaurant with a bar spanning almost an entire wall greets you. Offering an already impressive selection of spirits and whiskies, a quick conversation with a member of the bar staff will get you get you access to the whiskey bar. On the day I visited, general manager Kev Kelley showed me to the well-hidden bar. Walking past tables of customers, through an arch, and taking a left and we were greeted by a wooden door with a brass plaque reading Whiskey Bar.
Opening to a small empty stock room with bare concrete walls, Kev led the way to a small speakeasy-style bar with shelves filled to the brim with whiskies – the A-frame outside wasn’t lying.
Here, away from the bustle of the busy restaurant, the little 15-seater bar offers visitors not only an exceptional collection of whiskies on offer from all around the world, but an informative and greatly priced whiskey menu, complete with tasting board flights. Manager Kev explained that the idea behind the bar was to give whiskey lovers and small groups a genuine speakeasy experience where some of the best pours to be found were on offer – and he wasn’t kidding! As someone who passionately pursues bourbon I could instantly recognise the effort put into the American whiskey section alone, never mind the Irish, Japanese, Scottish and Canadian sections.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the selection on offer, the attention to detail on the menu, the prices, and the wealth of whiskey knowledge that Kev had. With the level of popularity that whiskey has gained in recent times it would have been just as easy for these guys to throw together a few bottles of whiskey from around the world and charge through the roof for the pleasure of an intimate setting. Instead, what you get is a true whiskey bar experience where it will never get too crowded, the prices are decent, and the staff really seem to know their stuff.
These guys are a great example of the kind of whiskey bar where I’d bring my fellow whiskey friends for an evening of indulgence in all things whiskey. What I also like about the Market Bar is the level of choice you have within the same space – a whiskey bar, two cocktail bars, and a restaurant bar all under the same roof. I hope future visits to whiskey bars around Ireland will yield a similar setup to what I’ve seen at the Market Bar- but if they don’t it’s great to know that the Whiskey Bar at the Market Bar isn’t going anywhere.