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Next time you’re on holiday in Northern Ireland, seek out Belfast's best bars for a pint of the good stuff.
1. The Dirty Onion
3 Hill Street
The location can be hard to find, but that’s the point, right? You don’t want any old Joe Bloggs turning up. As a former warehouse for Jameson Whiskey, this pre-1720 abode is one of the oldest buildings in the city and now plays host to some of the best live Irish bands in the vicinity. One word. Atmosphere. You’ll find more here than you will Guinness. Of which there is also plenty – complete with a shamrock in your froth.
2. The Filthy Quarter
45 Dublin Road
Comprised of four separate areas: The Secret Garden, The Gypsy Lounge, Filthy McNasty’s and Filthy Chic, this ‘dirty’ little quarter on Belfast’s Dublin Road is the preferred hangout for many Belfast locals. The main attraction is Filthy McNasty’s, a quirky nook fit-to-bursting with mannequins doubling as lamps, shabby vinyls and retro posters. There’s an open mic night each Sunday evening, but if you’re there on a Friday or Saturday, go party in The Gypsy Lounge. The DJ caravan box always belts out a good beat.
3. Brewbot Belfast
451 Ormeau Road
Stepping it down a notch, Brewbot Belfast is the prefect establishment for lazy Sunday sessions. Comparable to a German beer hall, the speciality here is the craft beer, including 12 kegs and 150 different bottled beers - by far the largest selection in Belfast, where do you even start? Laid-back chills are perfectly complemented with a selection of board games (Jenga and Connect4 to name a few of the faves) as well as a menu of feel-good comfort food. Try the sausage roll with black pudding.
4. Kelly's Cellars
30-32 Bank Street
Kelly and her cellar claim to be the oldest public house in Belfast, and although this is contested by many other age-old drinking holes in the capital, the timeless décor has changed very little since its 1720 fruition. Resolutely Northern Irish, it was here the United Irishmen hosted their meet ups and plotted the 1798 rebellion against the English. Expect to hear Irish Gaelic spoken by both the publican and the drinkers, as well as chalkboards advertising a decent Irish stew – for less than four quid.
5. The Perch Rooftop Bar
42 Franklin Road
As Belfast’s highest rooftop bar, the Perch is located on the 5th floor of a historic – and very pretty – city building. This one’s missing half its roof, but the dilapidation is all part of the charm. With secret-garden aesthetics, bijou bird cages and cocktails served in petite plant pots, it’s quirky in all the right places.
6. The Duke of York
7-11 Commercial Court
Back to the traditional at The Duke of York. Nothing span dangled here, just an authentic Irish pub – warts and all. Nestled down a narrow and very lovely cobbled alleyway, the interior is fully kitted out with original mirrors and all manner of Belfast memorabilia. Enjoy a bespoke glimpse into the city’s historical past while you nurse a cold beer, a pint of the dark stuff, or one of the Irish whiskeys (you won’t find a larger selection in all of Ireland). Or do as the Irish do, and nurse them all.
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