Don’t laugh at this bar. Seriously this bar is a non alcohol bar launched by Vaughan Yates and his business partner Oisin Davis. Named as the Virgin Mary, it 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 non-alcoholic cocktails, beers, and wines.
The drinks at Virgin bar
According to Irish Times, Yates and Davis are veterans of the drinks industry and previously collaborated on Poachers, a premium Irish tonic water. They were inspired to set up The Virgin Mary after noticing both a growing appetite for non-alcoholic drinks and a gap in the market for an alcohol-free venue.
At the bar the award-winning Anna Walsh devises 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. Many non-alcoholic cocktails can taste like sugary facsimiles of the real thing. Both Walsh and Yates were keen to avoid clichéd 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 Virgin Mary is a hot and spicy non-alcoholic surrogate for the Bloody Mary. Meanwhile, the Cedar’s Spritz is a refreshing alternative to a gin and tonic made with non-alcoholic gin and sparkling wine.
There are also a selection of non-alcoholic beers with Mikkeller’s Drink in the Sun coming highly recommended. The bar also serves Raven Nitro Coffee on tap. The coffee is poured from a stout tap and mimics both the texture and appearance of Guinness when served chilled in a glass. Yates’ own go-to drink is a newly launched non-alcoholic aperitif called Everleaf, which tastes bitter and deceptively boozy. In other words, there are drinks to cater to every palate.
Why the need for a non alcoholic bar in Ireland?
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper the bar owner said that drinking culture which was from birth to death, baptism to funeral, and part of the lifestyle is changing. People are becoming more aware of what they’re consuming. About a quarter of Irish adults do not drink alcohol and are fed up with a limited range of sweet, fizzy drinks in traditional pubs, he says, and some of those who do drink alcohol were open to socialising without the hard stuff. Yates, who is from Burton upon Trent, and his business partner Oisin Davis, who was born in New Jersey to an American father and Irish mother, are confident about this bar as Alcohol consumption has fallen by about a quarter – from the equivalent of 14.2 litres of pure alcohol per person in 2005 to 10.9 in 2016 – according to the World Health Organisation. The figure dipped again in 2017 by 1.4% compared with the previous year, according to the revenue commission.
A 2016 survey by the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs showed a steep fall in underage drinking, shunting Ireland from 8th to 28th out of 33 countries. There are 17% fewer pubs now compared with 2005 – an average of two closures a week, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland. Some of this reflects austerity from the economic crash plus a shift towards drinking at home. The Alcohol Action Ireland group says, however, that addiction, binge drinking and alcohol-related health harm remain far too high. Therefore moderating alcohol consumption seems to match a generational shift, which has seen the proliferation of coffee shops and gyms and aspirations to eat less meat. The government has stiffened enforcement of drink driving laws and moved to put cancer warnings on alcohol labels. Alcohol-free bars have struggled in other countries but Ireland seems ready for the concept, according to Yates.
The Virgin Mary Bar Timings
Open from 4pm to 11pm each day, the bar aims to recreate the buzz and atmosphere of any other late-night venue with “lighting, music, and conversation”. Note that this bar doesn’t accept cash. This bar is mostly visited by people who don’t want to consume alcohol but still want to have a good time like pregnant women or people who abstain from alcohol for religious reasons. Also the bar will appeal to drinkers who just want more options when it comes to places to socialise with friends. Visit this bar now at 54 Capel Street, Dublin.