Zak Smith takes a boozy trip through the Irish capital, taking in award winning cocktails, 1920s glitz and the 'Alton Towers' of breweries
For a luxury beverage themed weekend away, Scotland generally takes all the plaudits. With its abundance of distilleries and world class single malts, Scotland continues to remain the default choice for whisky aficionados worldwide, who travel the Highlands and Islands enjoying an adventure and a tipple. However, after a £2 million refurbishment and grand plans for their Marble Bar, The Westbury Hotel wants you to consider Dublin as the destination of choice for an indulgent spirituous weekend.
A staple in the Dublin social scene for nearly 30 years, The Westbury is an icon within the city, sitting in the heart of the Irish capital and just a stone's throw from all the major attractions such as Trinity College, St Stephen's Green and Brown Thomas on Grafton Street.
Part of The Doyle Collection, the family owned hotel stays true to Irish hospitality, with a warm and sincere experience that radiates throughout the building, providing a welcome contrast to the bitter winter winds. More grand hotel than sophisticated boutique, it wouldn't feel out of place on Park Lane, and it felt just as busy, the lobby and lounge thronging with Christmas shoppers and weekenders.
The hotel has just launched Balfes, its New York come Paris style brasserie, serving up an array of dishes in a relaxed and informal environment, with an Irish twist. A new favourite within the city, it was packed. However, this was not the main attraction.
Michael, head barman at the Marble Bar and a contender for Barcardi's barman of the year, is currently serving one of Ireland's top three cocktails: the Vamos, a mix of quality rum, apple and some other secret ingredients. Its delicate nature could convert a tee-total, and as he utilised his mixology skills to their full potential, it became clear that a weekend away from London didn't necessarily have to involve whiskey.
The bar is about to be revamped with a roaring 20's theme - decked out in soft furnishings and period outfits, not entirely original but certainly a la mode, it will be loosely based on the bar at The Savoy. The style may be commonplace in London but in Dublin, it will be unique. Already a mainstay for the cocktail crowd, martini trollies at The Marble Bar are set to be the fixture in 2016.
Above: Guinness's St James's Gate Brewery
A mere ten minutes from the hotel sits arguably one of the most successful 'home-grown' businesses in the world: Guinness. The storehouse felt more Alton Towers than a 'tasting venue' and, as Dublin's top visitor attraction, it wasn't hard to see why. Immersive, enjoyable and slightly addictive, the Guinness Storehouse enveloped you in their world, steeping you in their passion for all things malted barley.
As I enjoyed the complimentary pint atop one of the highest points in the city after an indulgent and surprising experience at The Westbury and Guinness' St. James's Gate, it was difficult to imagine a better way to enjoy a beverage laden few days away from London.