Ireland’s 1st alcohol-free bar opening

Capel Street will host Ireland’s first permanent non-alcoholic bar when The Virgin Mary pub opens in mid-February.

The trend towards NoLos and the current health habits of the Millennials coupled with a general caution over alcoholic beverages is thought to have triggered perceived demand for the opening of such a bar.

When this is coupled with the decreasing level of alcohol purchases in Ireland year-on-year (a 1.4% decline in per capita alcohol consumption according to 2017 Revenue clearance data) there are favourable indications that such a venture could be successful.

Named after the world’s most popular alcohol-free cocktail the bar, on one of the capital’s most vibrant and diverse streets, is for people who never drink alcohol, those who sometimes drink it or someone simply looking for a different kind of night out.

The Virgin Mary’s proprietors are two well-known characters in the Irish drinks industry, Vaughan Yates (1751 Founder) and Oisín Davis (Great Irish Beverages Founder), the creators of Poacher’s Irish mixers.

The venture aims to serve a variety of non-alcoholic drinks to the general public, targeting the growing number of people cutting down or eliminating alcohol consumption and will offer an array of alcohol-free beers and de-alcoholised wines as well as alcohol-free spirits.

“Dublin is an incredibly diverse city with an increasingly discerning population” explains Vaughan Yates, “so people are looking for a place where they can sit down with friends and really connect in a lively yet mindful drinking environment.”

His partner Oisín Davis pointed out, “If a fellow Dubliner wants to catch up with mates after 4pm in the city but doesn’t want to hang out in a pub, the only options available to them are multinational cafés that largely lack any atmosphere. We’re really looking forward to changing that and finally giving people an alternative.”

Award-winning mixologist Anna Walsh has been recruited to head up the bar and will devise a menu showcasing “entirely original alcohol-free cocktails crafted with the same love, detail and balance as liquor-based varieties”.

She told Drinks Industry Ireland, “It has been fun looking at ways to carry flavour and create mouth-feel without the use of alcohol. There are already several alcohol-free distilled spirits on the market, with many more coming out this year. I’ve used de-alcoholised wines in place of vermouths, which I then infuse with other ingredients. A good way to give mouth-feel is by adding in tannins from teas. Hibiscus & white tea both have light tannins while green tea adds extra astringency again – giving a similar effect to alcohol on your palate, that is… With The Virgin Mary, we’re happy to offer an alternative venue for bartenders to visit on their nights off. Health has become a focus within the hospitality industry. There’s less pressure on bartenders to drink, or feel like they should have drink.”

She also offered a couple of examples of house cocktails:

“’Tiki Street’ is a mix of de-alcoholised red wine infused with hibiscus, pomegranate molasses with allspice & vanilla, fresh lime, & black cardamom.

“I’ve taken inspiration from flavours found in tiki-style drinks. Allspice & vanilla add ‘rummy’ notes (if that’s a thing). Hibiscus & pomegranate keep it tart. Lime adds freshness & black cardamom adds a touch of smoke.

“’Pink Preacher’ is delicate & floral. It’s Ceder’s alt-gin stirred with de-alcoholised white wine, raspberry, jasmine, & white tea.

The white tea adds slight tannins & extra floral notes. This is mixed with a house-made raspberry & jasmine cordial.”





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