The Palace Bar, Fleet Street. Dublin.
Those of you who are lucky enough to have been to the Palace Bar will have seen an interior that's unpretentious and authentic, unspoiled by the passage of time. High ceilings, low lighting, incredibly welcoming. As the city changed outside it's doors, the Palace remained undisturbed, it's dark wooden interior maintaining it's coziness and charm throughout it's almost two centuries.
First opening in 1823, and given an wonderful, Victorian refurbishment in the 1880s the Palace is a jewel in Dublin's crown - a beacon of traditionalism in an evolving, multi-cultural, European city.
Known for it's literary heritage (more on that later) the Palace has become a destination pub for those with a passion for whiskey. Across it's two floors, you'll find more than 150 Irish whiskeys to sample - as if you needed a reason to return! Their tradition with whiskey dates back to the early 20th century, when pubs were permitted to bond and bottle their own casks. This tradition died out in the mid-1900's, but was resurrected by owner Willie Ahern in the past decade, seeing them bottle five of their own limited edition whiskeys. It's most recent bottling, a single cask, 17 year old Redbreast, was warmly welcomed by the Irish whiskey community.
I mentioned two floors - well, whilst downstairs oozes charm and character, whiskey lovers will want to make their way up-stairs, to their nirvana. Here you'll find the shelves, nooks and crannies packed with whiskey boxes, old bottles and rare vintages. Leather upholstery adorns the furniture, glowing softly under the sign that proudly proclaims you're sitting in Whiskey Palace. It's here I've enjoyed many a drop; tucked away from the outside world, the hustle and bustle of the nearby Temple Bar. It's important to note though, that the Palace is not in Temple Bar, but Fleet Street.
Pictured Above: The Whiskey Palace recently hosted a whiskey tasting event in aid of Sweny's Pharmacy (as featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses)
When (Palace owner) Willie's grandfather, Bill, bought the Palace in the 1940s, he also inherited the patrons. It's this patronage that gives the Palace another dimension to it's history and depth of character, for it was throughout the 40s and the 50s that the elite of the Irish literary world - Patrick Kavanagh, Brendan Behan, Flan o Brien - as well as journalists from the nearby Irish Times - drank, exchanged ideas and argued about the headlines of the times.
For me, the Palace is what pubs across the world invest small fortunes trying to imitate. More often than not, they fail. You can't manufacture or re-create authenticity - it has it, or it doesn't. The Palace oozes it from every fixture and fitting.
Above: Downstairs at the Palace Bar