Vintage Cocktail Club – an elegant shebeen in Temple Bar
The most famous Irish drink would probably be Irish Coffee, the most famous beverage Guinness, and the most famous amalgamation of pubs the Temple Bar. That is why it was so surprising to find an elegantly seductive shebeen-like cocktail club in the heart of Temple Bar – without beer, or mixes of coffee, whiskey and whipped cream on its menu.
Vintage Cocktail Club locates in Crown Alley, a narrow cobblestone street which begins from Merchant’s Arch and ends up to Dame Street . The street Crown Alley is probably named after a tavern which existed in the area, but all that is long gone now.
The Google map on M’s phone indicates that we should be standing by the Vintage Cocktail Club already, but all I can see is a black iron door with a small window. The door keeps adamantly closed even when I try to push it – trying the door handle wouldn’t work either as there is no door handle. Only three stickers close to each other indicate that we might stand behind the right doors: V, C, C.
I ring the bell and am just about to give up when a waitress dressed in a chic and tiny black dress opens the door. We follow her up the narrow staircase covered with soft carpet. I had already admired the VCC’s décor in the photos I found in the Internet, but in reality, the restaurant is even more atmospheric.
We arrived just when the cocktail club was opening it’s doors for the thirsty city dwellers, so only a few tables were occupied. A fireplace gave a cosy feeling to the room, and this was only emphasised by an old piano and a typewriter by the opposite wall. On all the small marble tables there was old-fashioned wax candles with flickering flames and the air was filled with soft South American Bossa Nova.
The waitress let us know that apart from one table downstairs all the tables were fully booked. We could either take that one table left or enjoy our drinks on the balcony upstairs, where few tables were still available.
We decided to check out upstairs before making up our minds. The terrace has a skylight which provides the space bright natural light – whenever the sun decides to shine over Dublin city. The furniture reminds me of elegant southern hemisphere beach bars, but the bright white and red wall-paper, and the grey hanging sky above the skylight, reminds us that the nearest sunny beach is only a distant dream. So we opt for the cosy downstairs decorated with typewriter, piano and a fireplace.
All the cocktails cost 11,50€ which is a bit on the costly side but they turned out to be worth the euros. The cocktail menu in itself is interesting and divides the drinks according to decades – starting from drinks served before 1880s. The menu also includes drinks served during the Prohibition, and finally, post-1933 drinks.
Maybe it is the Bossa Nova, maybe the rooftop terrace, but I end up choosing Moscow Mule with its Jamaican ginger beer as my first cocktail. M chooses the Dark and Stormy with dark rum and ginger. I must say that I love anything with ginger, and as I write this, I am actually pondering on the question whether there exists ginger coffee..?
While waiting for the cocktails, we were served little classes of Prosecco – and I admit hands on that Prosecco is a smart move from anybody trying to please poor old girl like myself.
I am sitting on a soft and velvety easy chair in a musky old-fashioned cocktail club in the city centre Dublin, sipping on some tasty drinks and taking in the seductive atmosphere. The walls are covered with subtle coloured wall-paper which again is covered with subtly erotic, old black and white photographs. Part of the space can be separated with a heavy red velvet curtain for a more intimate conversation.
I feel like being a part of a privileged secret society I wouldn’t want to reveal to anyone. But I take my chances, and recommend Vintage Cocktail Club to anyone who wishes to forget Temple Bar’s bouncers in Viking costumes, the crowds in the pubs, and the ear breaking fiddle music pouring out the evergreen tourist shops.
Vintage Cocktail Club has been one of the most memorable restaurant experiences in Dublin for me, and with sad longing I slip the bill into my pocket: 60€ for 4 cocktails and 1 antipasto.
Unfortunately, these cocktails cannot become an everyday indulgence.
But I will be back the first instant I come up with even a slightest excuse to pass as a reason to celebrate.