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Behind the Hidden Door – New Year Celebrations in Dublin

31st December, eyes stinging, I jumped in the shower at 05:30am. There are only two things that could get me out of bed this early – holidays and …..Okay I lied, just one thing – HOLIDAYS! So we packed our final things and stumbled our way to the airport in the dark to board our plane. I shut my eyes and woke 40 minutes later to the Captain’s landing message, shortly touching down in Dublin for our New Year break.

We headed straight to the west end of the city to check into our Airbnb we had booked for the trip, which was the cutest little two bedroom cottage situated on a lovely quiet cul-de-sac next to Phoenix Park.

The problems of going on these trips with your boyfriend is that our first stop was to an Irish pub to watch the football… Yawn – fellow girls, I’m sure you can sympathise. However, I really enjoyed our trip to Nancy Hand’s to have our predictable first sip of Guinness and a warming glass of port.

Following this, we went and saw some of the cities sights before heading back to our cottage to get ready for dinner. Neither of us are familiar with Dublin at all, so I booked The Winding Stair based on the excellent Tripadvisor reviews and the tempting menu.
This restaurant is based on the first floor and overlooks the famous Ha’penny Bridge. We had a beautiful window seat and admired the view before ordering a bottle of Merlot. Once we deliberated the fantastic menu, to start I had Potted Dingle Bay crab with toasted soda bread and organic leaves and Steven opted for the Irish charcuterie board with homemade bread, pickles and relish. As our waiter placed our dishes in front of us, we were hit by the most mouth-watering smell, and couldn’t wait to tuck in. Before we could, our waiter explained every single cut of local meat which was served on the charcuterie board and where it came from, including pork, lamb, duck and venison cured meats, along with two kinds of salami. All were equally delicious – I couldn’t resist stealing some!
For mains, we both ordered Roasted Lambay Island venison cushion, fondant potatoes, spiced red cabbage, roasted garlic and mulled quince sauce – thank goodness we both ordered the same because it was far too delicious to share. Since it was Hogmanay, we couldn’t resist the dessert menu, and devoured the Dark and white cherry brownie with vanilla ice cream and cherry sauce and the Plum sponge, cinnamon crumble and spiced custard.

The Winding Stair, 40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin

After dinner, we moved a couple of doors down to The Morrison Hotel for a couple of Espresso Martini’s before retiring to the cottage to bring in the bells in front of the fire, with a glass of red and a game of cards (HOW OLD AND BORING ARE WE?!).

Being in Dublin, of course we visited the Guinness factory. We ended up spending roughly 3 hours in total exploring Europe’s number 1 tourist attraction, it was that fun! We were lucky and got an extremely clear day, so could see the entire city from their Gravity bar on the 7th floor, where we enjoyed our Guinness.

Guinness Storehouse, St James’s Gate, Ushers, Dublin

The following night we headed to Temple bar to catch up with some friends. They had recommended a speakeasy cocktail bar for us to meet in, so I researched before visiting and noticed you had to book a table in advance to be allowed access. The Vintage Cocktail Club run sittings from 5-7.30pm, 7.45-10.15pm, 10.30pm-1am. I followed Google Maps to the destination, however, once it said we had arrived, we had to double check the address… there were no establishments open in sight. Thankfully one of our friends noticed the smallest sign on a gratified door – to say this is a hidden bar is an understatement. We rang the doorbell and were greeted by a friendly host who straight away asked if we had a reservation before taking us upstairs to the cocktail lounge. It was exactly like stepping back in time, into a cosy and classy atmosphere.
The cocktail list is extensive with some great names such as Tequila Mockingbird and Absinthe Minded, however, I opted for The Dirty Wizard and have since declared it my favourite cocktail ever (excluding Espresso Martinis) ! We’ve even ordered a similar liqueur to try and replicate at home! It was made with a combination of fascinating ingredients; Chili-infused Absolut Vodka, VCC Gingerbread and Blackcurrant Liqueur, cranberry juice, fresh citrus, egg whites, with ginger nut rim, berry skewer and a fresh mint sprig (pictured front and centre in our cover photo). If you get the chance, definitely do stop by for a taste of the prohibition style speakeasy atmosphere of this delightful place.

The Vintage Cocktail Club, 15 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin

We finished our trip with a walk round Dublin Zoo before hopping on the plane and sleeping all the way home, to prepare for the return to work and normal life.

Julie XO

Fancy dining or sipping at the above restaurants/bars? Use the links below to make a reservation today:

The Winding Stair:
Vintage Cocktail Club:

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