The Duke of York stands on Belfast’s historic Half Bap area as a timeless classic that has mellowed and aged as well as the many whiskeys that feature on its extensive offer. A stroll through Commercial Court Street -one of Belfast’s oldest- gets you there and sets the tone to experience the pub’s traditional charm.
The site has served as a tavern since the mid-1860’s, and it was rebuilt in 1974, after being severely damaged by bombs during The Troubles. The reconstruction was intended to make The Duke of York look like it did in the fifties, and while that makes it newer than it looks like in some aspects, the elements within it have been saved from other establishments and they’re all real pieces of Belfast’s heritage.
Stone and hardwood flooring and walls covered in memorabilia (even the ceiling in some areas) perfectly match the nostalgic feeling echoed by the furniture, the antiques collected from several of the city’s hotels and restaurants of times past and of course, the bar. But despite its fondness for history, the atmosphere is more good craic than a night at the museum.
Those hunting for a perfect pint of Guinness won’t need to search any longer after stumbling into The Duke of York, and while many of the patrons -a mix and match of tourists and locals, young and senior- seemed delighted to share a few rounds of the black stuff, the star sip of the place is actually on the golden side.
It offers one of Ireland’s (and surely the world’s) most comprehensive selections of Irish whiskey, from ubiquitous entry level tipples to high end bottles, obscure special editions and some collectors’ bottles so rare that those on their shelves are the only ones known in existence. These lasts ones, however, are just there to please your eyes, as the initials NFS (Not For Sale) indicate that they’re off-limits for the palate.
The service is warm and friendly and while it can get busy at times, it’s spacious and with many cosy corners, so even if the game is on, those who prefer conversation over goal-watching will find an area suitable.
Price-wise it’s quite reasonable; to give you an idea, a serving of Jameson is priced at £3.60 (€4.22), Redbreast 12 Years at £5.20 (€6.10) and Writers Tears at £6.20 (€7.27). Of course, if you feel like splurging, you can also order Midleton Very Rare 1998 for £35 (€41.05) or perhaps a serving of Tullamore, Dalys Distillery 1949 for £100 (€117.23).
Whether you’re based in Belfast and looking for a great pub to hang out or you’re planing on visiting Northern Ireland’s Capital, The Duke of York will give you an unmissable authentic experience, with a special appeal to whiskey connoisseurs and enthusiasts with all levels of knowledge.
The Duke of York
7-11 Commercial Court, Belfast
T: 02890 241062
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.