I’m not one to play favourites, but if pushed to answer on my cocktail bar of choice in the city, Peruke & Periwig would near the top of the list every time. A seductress of a spot, not only is the design and ambience alluring, it has a cracking cocktail offering to match.
Say what you will about the Press Up group, but they have undoubtedly mastered the art of the cocktail bar. Whether you are sipping a sundowner in Sophie’s, imbibing a prohibition style tipple in the Vintage Cocktail Club or snooping around the dark corners of the Liquor Rooms with Old Fashioned in hand and mischief on the mind, each of their venues offers that something special.
It’s no wonder then, that the opening of The Lucky Duck on Aungier Street caught my attention and a visit to sample the goods in the first week of opening was high up on my agenda. When I arrive, it is difficult to believe a) it is a Tuesday night and b) that this place has only been open for a week, as we walk into the vintage style pub packed to the rafters.
On the ground floor, the traditional pub feels like it has always been here, with an inviting snug towards the front for nursing pints or indeed toasties, if the mood takes you. Like Mary’s, Press Up’s nod to the Old Man pub, downstairs feels shabby in the chicest of ways, and anyone would feel comfortable pulling up a stool here.
Upstairs at The Lucky Duck is a different story altogether, and having booked a table for two (and lucky we did, as people were being turned away despite the early hour) we’re welcomed into a cosy and elegant living room-like space called The Digges Room, with a corner taupe velvet bar, suspender-wearing waiters and mixologists, distressed floors and ample windowside booths.
Above, the third floor Clarke’s Bar feels a bit like The Dean part deux navy wood panel-walled and ever so glam, dotted with marble top tables surrounding a centrepiece copper top bar. Both of these upper floors offers up a “closed loop” cocktail menu alongside a fairly extensive food offering under the supervision of former Peruke Head Chef Stephen Ryan.
Although tempted by the Bar Snacks section with delicious sounding bites like Baked Brie with Hazelnut and Grape Relish (€10) we have tipples on the brain – it was Tuesday, after all.
Perusing the cocktail menu designed by mixologist Paddy Noir, I automatically recognize one tantalizing fact – whiskey cocktails outnumber the oh stylish gin concoctions on the menu – something I can definitely get behind. Looping back to the philosophy behind the cocktails offered at The Lucky Duck, our mixologist explains that the concoctions are not adorned with garnishes to minimise waste.
Even the naturally minimalistic Old Fashioned is pare back and spritzed with in-house made orange reduction, in place of a wasteful peel twist. It is like chemistry, he tells us confidently, and nothing is added for the sake of it.
Well willing to forego the cucumber peels and grapefruit wedges so often obstructing my drinking, I’m impressed with this environmentally friendly approach, and my Old Square(€12) is listed under “smooth” and is all of that and then some. Prizefight Irish Whiskey, as always, packs a fearsomely delicious punch and is beautifully balanced with almost smokey Irish brandy and a very minimal tonic top up. Even the cherry is booze soaked and makes for the perfect edible garnish.
The Long Haul (€12)reminds me of a Whiskey Negroni, a kind of a riff on a Boulvardier, and it is well worth nursing – a sumptuously rich drop which manages to balance the hefty punch of Bulleit Rye perfectly with Aperol. If an Aperol Spritz is your go-to, take off the training wheels and embrace this seriously sophisticated sip.
Next up, the Tall Boy(€12), sounded like exactly what I was after, with the kind of kick to keep you up all night on a buzz, combining Tequila with cold brew coffee. Sadly, it falls flat with too much tonic and not enough of a Don Julio for either of our tastebuds. The menu is, it seems, a bit of a lucky dip and this drink, sadly, ends up going to waste and I wished I had stuck with the whiskey spiked concoctions.
Similarly, across the table, although quite ripe with berried fresh summer vibes owing to Rosé topped up with Tanqueray gin and a coconut rim, Four Story(€12) couldn’t compete with the sophisticated Long Haul.
Having whiled away the evening in the cosy surrounds of The Lucky Duck, we both agreed our killer first cocktails and the opulently inviting decor would draw us back again, although I’ll leave my tequila and coffee blending to Patron XO in future. Four cocktails came to €48.
There is no doubt in my mind that this new spot will become a Dublin date haven – book a nice corner table, stick to frisky whiskey and you might just get lucky.
The Lucky Duck
43 Aungier Street
T: (01) 405 4824
REVIEW BY DARINA COFFEY