No gin at the inn: the sober pub

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From The Irish Times

Anna Young is hoping to make sober sexy with her alcohol-free night spot in Dublin, writes SIMON TIERNEY  

I AM IN a basement. A guitarist is tuning his instrument. I take a slug of my drink. The plucking of random chords gives way to the melody of Bob Dylan ’s Make You Feel My Love. And we ’re off; another Friday night in Dublin begins. But there is something different going on here.

I am not drinking beer. I am drinking fresh sencha green tea. This isn ’t a club or a pub. It ’s an alcohol-free late night café. This is Accents Lounge, one of Ireland ’s few  “sober pubs ”. It looks like a cross between a sitting room and a high-end lounge-bar. Bean bags and sofas are positioned at satisfying angles. The lighting is warm, and the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans and herbal tea reminds me that I won ’t be ordering a pint tonight. All the seats are occupied.

Accents operates all day and into the late evening, closing at 11pm on most nights.  “I have always missed a late-night café in Dublin and was really disappointed that this capital city didn ’t have one, ” says Anna Young. She is the owner of Accents, and arrived in Ireland  “on a one-way ticket and told myself that I will stay until I am not happy ”.

There are people on their own, reading the paper; there are couples. There is a first date taking place beside me, the conversation hesitant. The atmosphere is easygoing and welcoming.  “The atmosphere of a pub is completely different, ” says 24-year-old Trinity student, Áine Flood.  “It ’s nice to have another option. ”

Flood sees this type of late-night lounge as an alternative social model for the city.  “I think Ireland could benefit from having alcohol-free options that are not stereotyped as  ‘hippy ’ . . . that we can accept it if someone doesn ’t want alcohol and we don ’t question why. It needs to be trendy . . . we need to make sober sexy,  ” she says.

On the first Monday of the month, Accents hosts a comedy club.  “People laugh as hard, listen and relax the same, ” says Young, adding that there are no hecklers.

Accents Lounge, 23 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2, 01-4160040,

Alcohol-free nights out  

Funky Seomra is a monthly, alcohol-free nightclub in the RDS (Merrion Road, Dublin 4). It also runs a quarterly event in Galway (Commercial Boat Club, Riverside, Wood Quay, Galway), and has started a new club night in Cork city.

Milk and Cookie Stories is an alcohol-free arts, story-telling and home-baking collective. It meets on the second Tuesday of the month (6.30-10pm) in Exchange Dublin (Exchange Street Upper, Dublin 2).

Notmyround.comis a free app for people who enjoy an alcohol-free social life.

Tea Garden (7 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1) stays open until 11pm and has an extensive menu of exotic teas and tobacco-free shisha.