It was a big weekend for Dubliners with the city’s first ever alcohol-free bar opening to the public.
‘The Virgin Mary’ on Capel Street took a dry run and welcomed customers with a delicious range of wines, beers and cocktails, all free of any alcohol.
Owner Vaughan Yates and business partner Oisin Davies are both experts in the field of beverages and saw a gap in the market after noticing a growing demand for booze-free drinks in the capital.
Despite receiving many dubious reactions, the duo pursued their dream and The Virgin Mary was born.
A drinker’s paradise
Irish people are often noted for their traditional fondness for a drink or two.
From a relaxing afternoon pint to a celebratory popping of champagne corks, we are undoubtedly a lively nation at times.
World famous Irish pubs pave the streets of Dublin while the Guinness brewery attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Hens and stags flock to the capital for one last raucous weekend and rely heavily on the well-stocked bars and clubs of our fair city.
So how will a no-alcohol venue go down among party-goers in the Capital?
Yates remains positive and believes there is a social shift happening in Ireland.
He says, “I think we’re at the beginning of a cultural shift in terms of people’s attitudes towards alcohol.
“We’re not saying don’t drink, what we’re saying is if you don’t want alcohol here is an alternative.”
“There aren’t many if any, bars set up just as bars that you come into and drink just non-alcohol products.
“And you can drive home,” he adds.
But with traditional nights out in Ireland often involving a polished bar lined with pints and live music belting out songs to celebrate similar nights gone by, is it realistic to think it would be the same without the effects of alcohol?
Time to grow up?
Award-winning mixologist and bar manager Anna Walsh is confident her “grown-up” cocktails at The Virgin Mary will be enough to tempt any drinker.
She says, “When you give yourself boundaries, you’re forced to be more creative.”
With this in mind, Walsh has created an impressive menu of non-alcoholic cocktails including a hot and spicy Virgin Mary and a refreshing Cedar’s Spritz, a mix of Irish alcohol free gin and sparkling non-alcoholic wine.
There is also a wide selection of alcohol-free beer and a Raven Nitro Coffee on tap that looks a lot like Guinness when served cold in a stout glass.
So is it worth it?
The stylish venue opens from 4 pm until 11 pm every day and offers 30 seats in a relaxed atmosphere with all the trimmings found in any other late-night city bar.
Not only will it appeal to the estimated 25 per cent of Irish who don’t drink alcohol but it will also appeal to the growing number of people who focus on minimizing waste.
Even the tomato-flavoured crisps are made from the leftover pulp used in Walsh’s Virgin Mary cocktail.
And if that is not enough to convince you then maybe the idea of having a sober conversation or a clear head in the morning might be enough to entice you to the booze-free zone.
Aware of the risks Yates acknowledges, “There is still a long way to go in this field.
“We’re only really at the beginning of it, both from a cultural point of view and products.”
While bar manager Walsh asks the question on all our lips, “can you lose the booze and keep the craic?”
There’s only one way to find out.