The news came through in the same way that news like this often does – via rumour and hearsay. A friend of a friend’s workmate was “in there the other night and the barman said it’s closing in a week, getting turned into a hotel.”

I know now that I’ve let might have let stewardship of this blog go to my head – because I was far too quick to disregard this rumour when it had come through to me from Pintman №6. Too small for a hotel, I thought. I’d have heard it before now, I reasoned. But will and reason were forces not strong enough to detract from the truth of the issue – it eventually came through too many channels to be denied. The pub actually was closing. And it was closing soon. That Thursday to be precise. There was no way we were missing that.

The Last Night in The Flowing Tide

There was just one problem, though – that curse of the drinking class, as Oscar would put it. Work. Not only was I due in the office on this particular day, but I was also already predisposed to a leaving doo that evening as well. Plans of being in the pub early were all but gone.

On the day itself, we had a number of different ears and eyes on the ground. Some would be dropping in on their lunch, or on their way through town elsewhere. Some were to be on the high stool shortly after it was permissible to clock out of their job. All reportage alluded to a bittersweet atmosphere and a brisk trade. Bits of information periodically trickled through as the day elapsed:

  • None of the current staff would be retained.
  • It was not bought for conversion to a hotel.
  • It would remain a pub.
  • It had been bought by the owners of The Kings Inn.

In time, this would all prove to be correct information but was all conjecture at this moment in time.

When at last I did get to turn the harp (turn the harp?) and make haste toward the pub, I had to battle my way to the further end of it, such was the swell of drinkers who had amassed to bid the place farewell. Wasting no time, I joined the three-deep bar and called for a pint which was dispatched with the usual skill and professionalism as would be expected in The Flowing Tide.

Joining Pintman №2, I find him cornered by a towering man. Pink in the face and as bald as a boiled egg, the man had the facial features of a baby and the slurred speech to go along with it. Pintman №2, the bigger admirer of general chaos out of the two of us, was delighted with this man’s company – joyous as he joked and equally so as he’d abruptly threaten us in a manner befitting Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. Personally, I couldn’t wait to escape the giant baby and it wasn’t difficult to do so in the end. The last I saw of him was an hour or two later as all six foot seven of him was being admonished by a comparatively diminutive barman for eating too much of another customer’s cake, which was being distributed around the adjoining table.

Thereafter, we had a changing of the guards – Pintman №2 departed and I was joined by Pintman №6. He and I managed to nab an actual seat and proceeded to reminisce about the pub over a few pints. We recalled the big days and nights we’d had there: Paddy’s Days, Christmas Eves, and En-route to a wedding-days amongst them. Toasted, too, were the not-so-big visits – nondescript afterwork drinks and umpteen instances of seeking space offering better shelter to wait out the bus than that constructed by CIE.

We took time to gaze upon the fittings and furnishings for the last time, also. The Abbey posters, the Smirnoff mirror, the painting of Sackville Street with the misproportioned Nelson’s Pillar, and the chalkboard advertising the WiFi password, (Neptune, a callback to the name given to the pub’s former downstairs venue). While we half-jokingly conspired to maybe bring home a keepsake of our own, we delighted in old staff and old regulars being invited in behind the bar to have their photo taken with the barmen fulfilling their final shift.

And as we took this all in, we decided that it would be too much to hang around until such a time that the lights were flashed, and the last shout was given. There was too much of a finality to that.

Flowing Tide

Flowing Tide

And walking out onto Abbey Street, we find a city that carries on. Taxi, bus and tram whirr by on schedule. Workmen go about their nightshift tasks. Passengers hurry for last buses. Late awesome light of a clear evening in July dies, unnoticed, in the sky above. And an institute below it, already clad in scaffolding, does likewise.

Postscript

So, the pub did close. And the crowd that owns the Kings Inn did buy it. And, while we’re most certainly sad that the old guard have gone, we’re more than happy that the new owners didn’t overhaul the pub too drastically. A sensible renovation occurred over the rest of the summer and the pub reopened in October. Here’s to plenty more craic in The Flowing Tide

Flowing Tide

For an hour and a half, I drank liquor so rare

You’d swear it was made by the gods in the air

Out of nectars and honey, and lotuses fair.

And it freshly came over the border.

When I came to write this little blog post, it was entirely appropriate that I had the above-quoted lines of The Mary Wallopers’ “The Night the Guards Raided Owney’s” jangling around in my head. For it was only a short while before, that I was in the very privileged place to get the chance to taste some liquor so rare, courtesy of Michael and all our pals over at Last Drop Distillers.

They had dropped us a line to let us know about three different expressions of a 50-year-old Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch that they’d persuaded three Dublin publicans to part with their cash for – and install behind each of their respective bars. And it just so happens that these three pubs are all great.

If you haven’t heard of The Last Drop Distillers, they are an arm of the Sazerac company and are a relatively new outfit concerned with finding rare and unique spirits and bringing them to market, regardless of how limited a supply of the spirit remains – hence the name. They also happen to be headed up by some Drinks industry legends – you can read more about them here.

The Whiskies/Pubs:

So, these three very special whiskies are available in the these three excellent Dublin pubs that are listed below.

The Bankers:

Last Drop

Banker's

First up is The Bankers – situated in the historic financial district of Dublin City and a mere Stone’s throw from the inventor of the Coffey Still’s alma mater – The Bankers have added the 1968 expression of The Glenrothes Single Malt to their impressive already-impressive collection.

The Ferryman:

Ferryman

Last Drop

I’ve always maintained that The Ferryman could be considered the last true Docker’s pub. Nowadays, as it quenches the thirst of dockers of the silicon variety on John Rogerson’s Quay it’s ideally placed to enjoy a whisky as old as the 1969 Glenrothes Single Malt and imagine the hustle of the bustle of incoming and outgoing trade on the quayside in years gone by.

The Palace

Some new (very old) whiskies in three Dublin Pubs.

Palace 1

What can one say about The Palace Bar that hasn’t already been said? Home to the cream of the country’s literary crop, The Palace was already legendary when the 1970 Glenrothes Single Malt which now sits behind its bar was casked. As one of the city’s best-known whiskey bars, it’s an ideal place to enjoy a dram, especially one as special as this.

Conclusion

On the whiskies: though these are all the same liquid, time and cask and that mysterious magic that happens, therein, have rendered them entirely unique to one another – the 1969 was juicier on the palate than the 68, which had more peat behind it – while the 1970 had maltiness in spades. I’m certainly not someone with as advanced a palate as most in the whiskey community in this country, but when you taste a whisky as extraordinary as this, you can quantifiably taste an intensity that sets them apart from most other whiskies you might have tasted prior.

It goes without saying that these will be expensive drops – I’m not even sure what price the pubs will set for them. Suffice it to say that they’ll be very easy to spot in your online banking on a Monday morning.

But this is a pub blog and whisky is certainly an important aspect of Dublin pub and drinks culture – even the pricy stuff.

And, who knows, that scratch card from your granny or a longshot Cheltenham tip could come in some day and you’ll want to treat yourself to something really special, and it is nice to know that the option is most definitely there.

(The Transparency Bit: I received free samples of all of the whiskies mentioned above. I wasn’t asked to write this in return)

Let me start this post by assuring you that DublinByPub has not decided to pivot toward a clickbait, listicle-heavy style of content. Nor are we looking to join the small country sized amount of Guinness review pages out there. But being a website, Instagram account, twitter account, with something of a following, we’re often queried on where we believe the best pints in Dublin can be found. So hence: this post.  

Before we go any further, please let us say that we believe the finest pint for sale within the known and ever-expanding ninety-three billion lightyear-wide cosmos which we inhabit is that which pours in Kavanagh’s pub in Glasnevin (original post here). Our position on this remains unchanged. 

But for this post, we want to concern ourselves exclusively with pubs in Dublin city centre – i.e. between the canals.

I also want to say that taste is subjective. Some people eat liver with mushrooms and listen to Garth Brooks, and it’s not my or your place to pass judgement on such freaks of nature. If you don’t agree with our list, that’s ok – you can go and make your own list and post it up on the internet yourself, too.  

Anyhow, here we go – in no particular order (after the first one) here are our five best Dublin City Centre Pints.  

J.M Cleary’s: Amiens Street

A favoured haunt of Michael Collins, Cleary’s is said to have had its electricity bill taken care of by Irish Rail to balance the inconvenience of having had a railway bridge pass over its roof. Evidently, the time that would have been spent on the administrative task of paying the electric has been better spent perfecting their pint purveying abilities- they’re unrivalled between the canals, as far as we’re concerned.

(Price: €5.20 as of Summer 2022) 

Click Here for our original post on Cleary’s

Cleary

The Lord Edward: Christchurch Place

We adore and have always adored The Lord Ed. And while this has been the favourite pub in the world as far as yours truly is concerned, I had always only considered the pint to be adequate – not poor, but not even threatening for the top ten. But then something changed. Upon returning after lockdown, the quality of the pint was found to have improved exponentially. And a year or so later that level of quality remains the same.

(Price: €5.50 as of Summer 2022) 

Click Here for our original post on The Lord Edward

Lord Ed

Toner’s: Baggot Street

Famed as the only pub that WB Yeats set ever set foot in, Toner’s is sat on the well-trodden drinking trail referred to by some as The Baggot Mile. William Butler was good at the poems, but not great at the pints – so consider the likes of Ronnie Drew, Peter O’Toole and Patrick Kavanagh’s former patronage of the place as a more qualified endorsement of it. That said, it would have to lose a point or two on grounds of price, but it always feels worth the money when you’re sat in that famous snug.

(Price: €6 as of Spring 2022) 

Click Here for our original post on Toner’s

toner_col

Fallon’s: The Coombe

Sitting at the very start of the district which houses the Guinness brewery – The Liberties, Fallon’s is as fine an ambassador as you could hope for, for both the area and the brewery. One of the great historic Dublin pubs, it’s always dishing out consistently decent stout.

(Price €5.50 as of Summer 2022)

Click Here for our original post on Fallon’s

fallons2

The Piper’s Corner: Marlborough Street

We wanted to include something of a wildcard here – a pub you never hear referred to as a great Guinness pub – but anytime any of us darkens the doors of the Piper’s, we’re always served some top-class pints. And the fact that you’ll likely get a decent bit of trad to listen to while you sip only sweetens the deal.

(Price: €5.80 as of Summer 2022) 

Click Here for our original post on The Piper’s Corner

The Best 5 Pints of Guinness in Dublin City

Honourable Mentions

Some other places we’ve enjoyed some very good pints in within the canals over the last few years.

  • The Thomas House 
  • Grogans 
  • The Palace 
  • Kehoes 
  • J McNeills 
  • The King’s Inn 
  • Ryan’s (Parkgate)
  • The Old Royal Oak
  • Mulligan’s (Poolbeg) 
  • Briody’s  
  • Walsh’s (Stoneybatter) 
  • O’Connell’s (Portobello) 

Don’t Agree?

I’m sure some of you out there think we’ve gotten things totally wrong here, given that this is the internet. Do feel free to give out to us in the comments and offer your recommendations for great Guinness in Dublin City Centre.

This is a bit of an abstract post, relative to our usual content – but I thought it worth writing.

It started innocently enough in the depths of COVID lockdown. Pintman №2 gets a text in one of his WhatsApp groups