December is a month of excess, when hectic schedules and social calendars can leave us worse for wear in the run up to the holidays. With friends returning from various locations abroad to spend Christmas with their families, it's always a great opportunity to have a catch up and a social beverage or two. However, with pubs full of offensively garish lights, and bleary-eyed punters only halfway through their 12 Pub of Christmas, is there anywhere left for a dignified drink during the festive season?
What if I told you that there's a secret bar in Dublin's city centre, accessible only by a side door, back passage way and redbrick tunnel? A cocktail club that serves only the finest traditional drinks, which operates on a strict list of rules which must be respected; a prohibition-era speakeasy that truly honours the past. The Blind Pig is just that. Even its name suggests the concealment of illegal activity from the authorities. Granted, alcohol is certainly not illegal in Ireland but the secretive air of this club seriously makes it feel like it is. Previously, the Blind Pig had existed only as a speakeasy pop-up. More recently the Blind Pig has found a permanent residence, mere minutes from Grafton Street, buried below the city's streets. This prohibition theme runs throughout the Blind Pig, from making a booking, to finding the secret location, as well as the interior design, and the attire of the barmen; you could be forgiven for thinking that you had somehow stepped back 90 years in time.
A lot of bars around the city tend to slap on a basic pub grub menu, to accompany their drinks in the hope of making a few bob extra. But the food that the Blind Pig has on offer is truly exemplary; nothing too fancy but the highest quality meats and ingredients, and you can tell they have put great thought into the dishes. With a 3 course set menu for €30, generous portions, an unbelievable plate of antipasti (which I am still dreaming about!), and some decadent desserts, there is a lot to like. This is not the place to order a Sex on the Beach, or a double vodka with Red Bull. The drinks here have been perfected by the dedicated mixologists behind the bar, and the aforementioned "cocktails" would bring their upstanding establishment into disrepute. There is also a strong policy on good behaviour at the Blind Pig, with requests that clientele do not bring along anyone "you wouldn't leave alone in your own home" and that you are respectful of all within – which is fair enough, and a lot of venues across the city could do implementing some rules like these. The Blind Pig is both sophisticated and dignified, anyone seeming too drunk will not be permitted to enter, and it's all the better for it. Booking is essential, and Fight Club-esque rules must be observed before you can descend to Dublin's best kept secret so keep those lips sealed!