Inside Dublin’s first alcohol-free pub

A new pub has opened its doors in Dublin with an unusual twist; it doesn’t serve alcohol.

Vaughan Yates is the co-founder of The Virgin Mary, which opened in Dublin – a city that is home to 750 boozers and the Guinness brewery – earlier this month.

The bar serves a range of ABV-free cocktails.

Alcohol-free bars have started to crop up in cities worldwide in recent years, while more and more companies from Diageo to Coca Cola have begun to introduce AF alternatives to cocktails, mixed drinks and beer into the on-trade.

Now The Virgin Mary, which sits on Capel Street, provides a sober alternative to a few pints after work, operating between Dublin’s normal pub hours.

The low-and-no category is one of the fastest-growing sections of the alcohol industry. More than half of Brits who took part in a OnePoll survey last year said they have at least tried a non-alcoholic beverage, while 52% also said that non-alcoholic beers have become more socially acceptable in the past two years.

Hoping to cash in on consumers’ open-mindedness, The Virgin Mary’s shelves are stocked with alcohol-free beer and wines, while the staff have also curated a menu of AF cocktails. Drinks start at €4.50 (US$5, or £3.94), while cocktails are between €7 and €8.

The bar stocks a range of low ABV beers from both mainstream brands and the world of craft, with Heineken’s 0.0% lager sharing space on the menu with a wheat ale from Danish brewer Mikeller.

Punters also have the option to create their own alcohol-free cocktails by combining a non-alcoholic spirits of their choice with any mixer from Irish soft drinks maker Poacher’s.

The pub, located a 10 minute walk from whiskey maker Jameson’s distillery on Bow Street and less than two miles from Guinness’ brewery, has already picked up high profile attention in Ireland and further afield. “There aren’t many, if any, bars set up just as bars that you come into and drink just non-alcohol products,” Yates told the FT. “And you can drive home.”

As well as lager, craft beer and cocktails, the bar has developed a unique alternative to Dublin’s most famous beer.

The bar, headed up by manager Anna Walsh, serves an alcohol-free porter by Dutch label Braxzz, the brand that provided the Great British Beer Festival with its first AF brew in its history. This is topped with nitrogen-charged coffee on tap, producing a white head.

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