While I very much consider Underdog the only ‘true’ craft beer bar in town, we do have some pubs here in Dublin that reside comfortably in Craftonia, and this week, we’re heading to one of those: Bonobo.
Bonobo is part of what seems like an ever-growing team of bars with animal-themed names – Caribou in Galway, Impala in Cork, and the recently-opened Jackal in Navan, with another sister bar in Dublin, Kodiak, in Rathmines (which I keep going past on the Luas when it is not open – I must remedy this). However, as is usually the case when something is aimed at people who are Much Cooler than I am, the names are less about animals and more to do with electronic music (which, to be clear, is a thing I like, but my close familiarity with any artists ended around 1997, unless you count Philip Glass, or people sampling anonymous numbers stations).
This introduction may sound like I’m being a bit snarky about it, but in fact, I absolutely love the atmosphere at Bonobo – the weird-old-religious-books-and-jazz-records aesthetic is something I am very much here for, and the different areas of the bar each have a slightly different vibe. I’ve seen the odd complaint on local Reddit that it’s ‘snobby’ but I’ve never personally found that to be the case; I’ve always had a warm welcome. Granted, it’s possible that being a purple-haired woman who knows all the breweries on tap may mean I am already among the elect, but there are plenty of ‘normal’ beers on tap – no difficult entrance exam is required.
I’ve also heard someone refer to it as ‘one of those IPA bars,’ which is an interesting if worrying linguistic development – it’s bad enough that ‘craft’ meant everything and nothing, and now ‘IPA’ seems to be heading the same way. And, in any case, it’s hardly accurate – Bonobo always has a range of styles on tap (often a fair few sours of late), with the likes of Trouble, Kinnegar and Third Barrel representing the Irish contingent, and plenty of Spanish (as in actually from Spain, unlike Madri) and Scandinavian options most of the time as well. Again, there is no shortage of Guinness/Hop House 13/Madri if that’s of interest to someone in your party, along with some quite interesting cocktails – most tastes seem to be catered to.
There is also quite tasty pizza – unless you are a monster who refuses to eat pizza with sauce, but I suspect that is unique to my smaller child. And while some may sniff and/or roll eyes at just how Instagrammable Bonobo is, with its candles, plants and vintage lamps, I think it’s quite charming, and I certainly won’t complain at how much better my low-effort photos look there, nor am I the only weirdo photographing my beer.
It’s true that I may occasionally feel like the oldest person there – not something I mind, incidentally – I (mostly) attribute that to the proximity of the TUD Grangegorman campus – I will have to put this assumption to the test by finally getting over to Kodiak; clearly, I need to head south of the river, for science…
Where: Bonobo, 119 Church Street Upper, Inns Quay, Dublin 7, D07 E128
Access from the city centre: Buses 9, 37, 70. 83, 140, 145, 155, C2, C3, Luas Green Line, 20ish minute walk
Food: Pizza & flatbread
Sport: Not really that kind of thing
TVs: I have never noticed any, but it’s possible some are hiding
Music: Typically very GenX-friendly, even if it’s really for their GenZ offspring and/or younger Millennials
Family-friendliness: Depends on the time of day, but I’ve certainly seen the hipster babies and have taken my own smaller offspring for pizza
Pub-crawl-ability: High – it’s essentially in between Underdog and L. Mulligan. Grocer, with The King’s Inn, The Cobblestone, Bar 1661, Fidelity and many more within a short walk
Local sites of note: Smithfield, St Michan’s Church, Collins Barracks, TUD Grangegorman
Haunted: Maybe some haunted paintings? Definitely a spot for that kind of thing
Other notes: Plenty of board games available to borrow for a session, lots of doggos, outdoor deck