The Only Alcohol-Free Bar in Dublin Is Closing Its Doors

The Virgin Mary announced plans to go mobile on social media.

The Virgin Mary pub in Dublin, Ireland

Derick P. Hudson / Shutterstock

A bartender at The Virgin Mary, Ireland’s only full-time alcohol-free bar, said that the staff always immediately let customers know what they were in for. "We have to be straight with people the second they walk in," Anouk Rudin previously told The Independent in 2021. "[W]e get quite a few [patrons] who are pretty hammered already. They'll express surprise, confusion, sometimes abject horror, and quickly move along."

The bar opened in Dublin in the spring of 2019 and served up bespoke booze-free cocktails; 0.0% ABV beers, ciders, and wines; and even a nitro coffee chosen for its Guinness-esque taste and texture. The Virgin Mary — yes, that’s the joke — survived the pandemic, but its co-owners said that "spiraling costs" in Dublin’s city center contributed to its decision to close. 

In a statement posted on social media, The Virgin Mary wrote that although the physical location was closing, it would be taking the concept on the road. "The Virgin Mary Bar is going mobile," the co-owners wrote on Instagram. "[W]e are thrilled to be bringing our new 'TVM On The Road' concept to events, festivals, pop-up venues and much more around the island of Ireland! So get ready to see a lot more of us in the coming months."

Vaughan Yates, who opened the bar with his wife, Nicola, and her sister Sarah Connelly, told Newstalk that business "wasn’t too bad," but that it was still down compared to its pre-pandemic levels. "We think there still is a demand for people drinking non-alcohol drinks," he said. "We think that we're still at the beginning of this growth in this category. I do think if people can't come to us, then we need to come to the people — that's the approach we're going to take."

He's not wrong about the increasing demand for non-alcoholic drinks in the country: Drinks Ireland said that the market share of booze-free spirits and 0.0% brews quadrupled in the four years between 2017 and 2021. In the United States, total sales of non-alcoholic drinks increased by 20.6% between August 2021 and August 2022. According to Nielsen IQ data, non-alcoholic beers make up the largest percentage of that market share (85.3%), followed by non-alcoholic wine (13.4%) and non-alcoholic spirits (1.3%).

"With Gen Z now drinking 20% less alcohol per capita than millennials did at the same age, we wanted to offer an alternative that supported premium social occasions without the need for alcohol," Sarah Connelly told Hospitality Ireland. "And after just over three years in operation, we have seen that mindful drinking is not just a trend, but a global movement that’s here to stay."

In addition to the now-mobile version of The Virgin Mary, the company also operates alcohol-free bars in both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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