Ireland’s first alcohol-free bar is to open in Dublin.
The Virgin Mary, in Dublin’s Capel Street, will open on Friday with an extensive list of cocktails, wine, beers and spirits, all with zero alcohol content.
Owner Vaughan Yates says there is an untapped market in the Irish capital for those who are mindful of their alcohol intake, or completely tee-total.
The Virgin Mary, which will operate bar licensing hours from 4pm to 11pm, is located near to Ireland’s International Financial Services Centre.
Some of Ireland’s capital has seen a marked rebirth since bouncing back from the recession, and Mr Yates is banking on a new type of night-reveller who may want to have a night out “but still be able to go to yoga in the morning”.
“The idea behind it was to create an environment where people can come to that is a bar, but simply has no alcohol,” he said.
“We don’t want to be seen as a coffee shop, we are a bar, which is why we chose the licensing hours, and we don’t serve food.
“I think the timing is right because I believe there has been a cultural shift from people towards alcohol, their moderation of alcohol and what they’re consuming.
“Lower or no-ABV drinks mean people can have a longer night out, have good conversation and drive home when it’s over.
“We’re offering the ultimate responsible night out.
“We think we’ll complement the other bars around here, we don’t necessarily see ourselves as competition, we know that people will continue to drink, that’s a fact of Irish life, but people are a lot more mindful about what they’re consuming and we’re offering a place for that.”
The drink prices range from €2.50 for tonic water to €8 for a cocktail, and Mr Yates says that as more large distilleries and breweries continue their investment in alcohol-free products, he believes more and more bars will offer low or no alcohol drinks.
The announcement of an alcohol-free bar in a city famed for its drinking culture has raised eyebrows among the general public, and Mr Yates says he has encountered his fair share of doubters.
“To the doubters, and there are plenty, they laugh when I tell them I’m opening an alcohol-free bar in Dublin, but some have come back to me and said: ‘You know I think you might be on to something, I don’t drink as much as I used to’, so I would like to prove all the doubters wrong and have a venue here that people return to and we’re here for a long time.
“I also hope it’s the start of something bigger, I think in 10 years time there will be a lot of venues like this.”