Dublin: Its happy hour in Dublin and the drinks are flowing, but in Ireland's first "dry pub" patrons are forgoing Guinness and whiskey for non-boozy beers and zero per cent wine. The Virgin Mary, which opened this month, bucks the trend in a city where nightlife is fuelled by stout and spirits, offering a menu of entirely non-alcoholic beverages.
Thronging with customers within minutes of opening one weekday afternoon, its popularity is viewed by its owners as a sign that hard-drinking Ireland may be changing its ways. "Drinking is ingrained in society here," said co-founder Vaughan Yates, 51, a veteran of the drinks industry.
"However if you look at the Irish they are a very progressive nation, they are a very liberal nation, they're very open to change.
"I think there's a real cultural shift happening globally towards alcohol and we're really at the forefront of it." Oisin Davis, the pub's other co-founder and with whom Yates works in a company making drinks mixers, said they had noticed non-alcoholic options increasingly appearing on menus and decided there could be a niche for a no-alcohol pub.
Like many other countries, Ireland is currently in the midst of a wellness craze driven by visual social media platforms like Instagram. Festooned with florid garnishes and served in delicate glassware, many drinks at The Virgin Mary offer customers a "shareable" photogenic product, with bragging rights that they avoided a hangover after a night on the town.
"I do think that there is this movement towards wellness, and I think that our drinks probably reflect that," Yates said. Dublin has just hosted a wellness festival attended by yoga teachers, mindfulness practitioners and nutritionists, among others. Changes in diet are evident, with options for oat milk, coconut milk and a plethora of other alternatives to regular milk becoming the norm in cafes.
Health food business The Happy Pear that encourages people to eat more vegetables through courses, cafes, recipes and products, is hugely popular twin brother owners Dave and Steve Flynn tout their early morning sea swims as part of their wellness routine on Instagram.
However, alcohol consumption in the country is actually on the rise, according to Alcohol Action Ireland....