Getting a fantastic dram or a pint in this city has never been hard. But recently it became a pretty great place to get a cocktail as well.
While you are in Ireland make sure you try Poitín. A traditional Irish spirit with a roughly Anglicized pronunciation of PUUT-cheen. The equivalent American spirit is most closely moonshine, however that doesn't mean it isn't complex. With an ABV range of 40-90% it can have a helluva kick. It's hard to find outside Ireland but I encourage you to try a few while you are here. I liked the Micil Poitín made in Galway which contains a native botanical called Bogbean giving it a delicate floral spicy flavor.
Okay now to the cocktail bars....
This downstairs bar is marked by a single hanging sign outside which belies exactly how large it is once you get downstairs. True to the name, it is divided up into separate rooms. On weekends it gets very busy and features music and dancing. But if you are true cocktail nerd like me come early in the week and sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders. The cocktails are imaginative and thematic. They also make their own homemade Suze because the real version is hard to get in Ireland. Don't tell the French, but I think this might be better. The menu changes every 5 months and is always something interesting. Ask about the honey badger, if they let you take a picture with him make sure to tag me in your post.
The VCC as it is known to locals, is a sister bar to the Liquor Rooms. There are no signs save 3 old school stick-on letters (VCC) on a dingy door in a Temple Bar dark alley. Ring the doorbell though and find the magic of 3 stories of liquor heaven. Each floor has a totally different vibe. From the intimate 1920's style basement bar to the top floor candy pink striped carnival rooftop terrace. The menu is organized chronologically from 1400's onward with drinks to suit every palate.
Named after the police who turned a blind eye to the liquor rooms of the 1920s prohibition era this little speakeasy is hidden behind a bookcase in the basement of a popular Italian restaurant across the street from Trinity College. Think ahead and get reservations. First of all it's busy and you likely won't get in otherwise. Secondly, it's the only way to find the place. Seriously, you can't just stumble on it. They send you directions on how to find them and then how to open the bookcase when you arrive. This is a fantastic cave like basement bar with creative drinks of all kinds.