A pint of plain is your only man
One of the many aspects of Irish society that people invariably have an opinion on is where to get a good pint of Guinness, in the capital this topic is no less contentious. Speculation on every aspect of the processes that go into a pint are the source of much chatter, from the distance the kegs need to travel, the cleanliness of the pints, the number of Guinness drinkers in the local to the method of pouring even the glass is ripe for discussion. Few drinks have come under the white-hot heat of speculation quite like a Guinness- but that's what happens when one of the most iconic drinks in the world is brewed, drunk and spewed so much in your town. Guinness is ingrained into the very fabric of Dublin culture, society, and familial lore, few working-class Dublin families haven't a relation that worked in the brewery through the generations, others call Guinness-built houses home and still more are lucky enough to be close enough to the place to smell the malt or the barley roasting. It's an institution that means a lot to Dubliners at home and abroad, so no wonder this was such a hard list to put together:
12th. The Storehouse
Dublin 8's St. James's Gate
For those that subscribe to the idea that the further the Guinness has to travel the worser it gets, the proximity of the Storehouse which hangs flying circle-like above the brewery should by all accounts have the best since the stuff is only travelling by chute a couple of metres. Truth be told you get a phenomenal creamy pint here, which is poured by the creme de la creme of bartenders using pipes that are no doubt kept as clean as a whistle. After being brought through the Guinness tour you'll no doubt be feeling a little weepy about the importance of the black stuff on the city that lies beneath you, stretching from mountains to Bay below.
11th. The Stag's Head
1 Dame Court, for more info click here
Dubliners have been blessed to have a fine selection of preserved Victorian pubs, but perhaps one of the finest examples is The Stag's Head. The spot just off Dame Street, is the perfect place to have a quiet one and admire all the fixtures and stag-themed decor, during the Summer months there's no better place to have a few scoops than the "terrace" out in the pedestrianised street in front which punters happily share pints, slags and laughs in.
139 Baggot Street, for more info click here
One of the city's unofficial CBD's best boozers on the Baggot mile Toners, is honour-bound to be absolutely heaving come 6'o clock on any weekday night. A sprawling pub with one of the biggest beer gardens in town, it's guaranteed to have an atmosphere, having worked around the corner for several years I've never seen the place quiet. One of the oldest pubs in the city, down through the years this piece of living history has seen the likes of Ronnie Drew, Peter O’Toole and Patrick Kavanagh darken the door. One of the cleanest, creamest pints you are likely to get in Dublin, the servers here are gold-standard experts at their crafts- you can also order yourself some quality pizza from Cirillo's next-door if you get peckish!
Dublin 8's 129 The Coombe, more info here
Within spitting distance of the Guinness Brewery this spot is honour bound to pour a good pint. A classic Dublin pub, that was once situated near the 'Four Corners of Hell' the local name once given to a junction of four pubs in the Liberties legendary for its rowdy crowds and punch-ups. Over the years it has grown into a popular haunt for locals and visitors alike- but manners must be kept in Fallon's who run the bar a little like a strict school teacher at times. On a sunny evening, there's no better place than getting a school chair outside, enjoying a creamy pint and watching the world go by.
8th. Cleary's Pub
Dublin 1's 36 Amiens Street (opposite Connolly Station) more info here
One of the city's oldest pubs is perhaps best known for being an old haunt of Michael Collins and Harry Boland who would meet to discuss their plans for the 1916 Rising. Photos, illustrations and newspaper cuttings of many Republicans sit upon the walls that have played host to film crews through the years, featuring in movies like Michael Collins, The Commitments and Term of Trial. The staff are old-style in their high level of professionalism, pouring incredible pints as attested by every occupant in the place throwing back solely pints of the stuff.
Dublin 7's 6 Stoneybatter, more info here
Beloved of Stoneybatter locals, Walsh's is widely considered to be the slightly more polished and kept cousin of the nearby Glimmer Man. During the pandemic, they did a roaring trade selling takeaway pints (in actual glasses) and probably converted all the populace of the local area to the quality of their pints. Extremely professional staff serve up well-poured smooth pints of porter.
6th. Mulligans Poolbeg Street
Poolbeg Street (of course!) more info here
Dublin pubs don't get much more iconic than Mulligans, the place that stands its ground while all around it changes. A no-nonsense spot has seen an incredibly diverse confluence of Dubliners through its wooden doors, from Trinners students, newspapermen from de Valera’s Irish Press Group next door to celebs from the now demolished Theatre Royal across the road. Pouring a velvety pint, with a slight iron-y taste it's a great spot for a quiet catch-up.
5th. The Lord Edward
23 Christchurch Place
Few Dublin pubs have the same pull that the Lord Ed does on locals and visitors alike. A truly unique place spread over three storeys, it is known for its faded charms, corners, and quirks. Pouring a solid Guinness, it's exceptionally difficult to only stay for "the one" which makes the proximity of burdocks around the corner even more tempting.
4th. Ryan’s of Parkgate Street
Stoneybatter's 28 Parkgate Street
A boozer that's got a whole lot going for it, beautiful to look at, steeped in history, incredible food and most importantly excellent pints. The beautiful old wooden bar dates back to the Victorian period and is complete with loads of interesting quirks from the 'ding-dong-bell' in the snug, the old gas lamps and the old cigarette match-strikers. With the food being sorted by the excellent hands of FX Buckley's, pub-goers can enjoy the freshest of oysters, tender steak and from all accounts one of the best (and most affordable) Sunday roasts around, while they sink some scoops. An ideal place to while away a lazy Sunday languidly reading over the papers.
Dublin 2's Fleet Street
Time has undoubtedly not gotten through the door of this impeccably preserved boozer on Fleet Street. Once the watering hole of choice for the journalists on Fleet Street, and still known to some who pen for the nearby Irish Times, but you are more likely to find a more decerning Trinity Student reading over their notes in the corner. Despite being one of the city's best whiskey bars, the spot pours a truly incredible Guinness, good head and a silky smooth drink. It's a comfortable spot to while away the hours and the bartenders are always up for the chat and incredibly sound. The snug in the front is also one of the best in the city- get it if you can!
2nd. The Blue Light
For nigh on 300 years this small pub on the foothills of the Dublin mountains has provided Dubliners with heat from the turf fire, trad music and more importantly a great pint. Inside the place looks straight out of the 1700s, built with hand-cut granite Barnacullia stone, outside it's beer garden has a commanding view of Dublin below, perched high enough to take in Dalkey Head, the Hill of Howth, the pigeon houses and the bay below. Indeed the stone tells of the bar's origin story, to service the quarrymen of nearby Barnacullia during the 1700s. With taxes on imported spirits so extortionate, locals built the bar at a vantage point of the coast so as to avoid customs officials. The name comes from the blue light that locals lit on the front of the pub, which could only be seen by the smuggler boats, below in Dublin Bay, signalling that the coast and indeed the mountains were clear to smuggle contraband on-shore. The location might contribute to the quality of the pint of Guinness, but truth be known they do an incredibly great creamy pint in The Blue Light which is consistently good and on the reasonable end.
1st. John Kavanagh "The Gravediggers"
Glasnevin's 1 Prospect Square, for more info click here
The spot that has even lent itself to Dublin etymology surely had to take the number one spot- the expression going for a jar comes from ceramic jars that used to past through to wall into the Gravediggers in Glasnevin cemetery beyond. To this day the team serve the best poured pints of Guinness in the city, and is unofficially considered to be home to the best pint of the black stuff. Founded in 1833 and famously has no TVs and no music playing - it's all about the conversation. It's also home to one of the best bowls of coddle in the city, the pink, slow-boiled meat and translucent broth might not look the most appetising, but any Dubliner will tell you it's comfort food at its finest - family recipes are passed down and protected under lock and key. If you can't swing an invite into someone's home kitchen to try a bowl, fear not - you'll get an excellent version at the historic Gravediggers Pub in Glasnevin, with generously buttered sliced pan for dipping.
The Royal Oak
Smyth's (Haddington Road)
The Long Hall
Have some thoughts on the selection? Let us know on [email protected]