Harry Potter-esque drinks in Dublin

Photo credit: 
The Winding Stair
Vritti Bansal's picture
Vritti Bansal
July 06, 2017
In a castle, bookstore, and sweet shop.

A city quiet about its charms, Dublin allows modesty to win over a pompous display of treasures. However, it'd still be half-hearted to attend a standard pub-crawl in a city that's got Doppelgangers for Honeydukes, Flourish & Blotts and Hogwarts. Perhaps Hogwarts is a stretch (that place really, truly only exists in JK Rowling's irreproachable imagination), but Mr. Simm's Olde Sweet Shoppe, The Winding Stair bookshop, and the Dublin Castle provide sufficient ground for other-worldliness. 

A vision of Honeydukes emerges eerily as you enter Mr Simm's Olde Sweet Shoppe on Dame Street: think shelves of glass jars filled with psychedelic orbs and tubes. The saccharine scent of apple, strawberry and sugar melds with tart lime, leaving visitors heady and lustful for a taste. It's no place for a pint, but "beer pots" are for sale. The chewy beer confectionery, together with the omnipresent candy aroma, might result in intoxication similar to what could only arise from a couple mugs of Butterbeer. 

That, in itself, is fortunate, since getting to the Dublin Castle from there requires a diligent walk (albeit a short one). The Castle Grounds are extensive, but the end destination here is the café at The Chester Beatty Library. Five minutes by foot, it can be confusing to locate if you haven't already been. Castle guards are congenial, and happy to send you off in the right direction. 

The magnitude, as is the case with all castles in Ireland, is astounding. But what really sets the Dublin Castle apart is the outer walls painted bright orange, yellow, leafy green and little-boy blue. Once in the gardens, a walk through an automatic glass door reveals the café right away. The tables and chairs are set under a towering glass ceiling. Again, there's no stout or ales on the drinks menu, but I recommend you drink in your surroundings with a bottle of wine (or two). Seated amidst whitewashed brick walls, under a majestically high ceiling, it will feel similar to raising goblets in The Great Hall. This one's for lunchtime drinking (don't worry, the Irish don't look down on it), and rightly so, since the sunlight flowing in through the glass ceiling makes it worthwhile. Also, the café shuts at 6pm. 

After a hearty candy purchase and drinking like royalty, to liken your visit to Diagon Alley must entail completing it with a stop at Flourish and Blotts. And so, The Winding Stair restaurant, right above its namesake bookshop, is the ideal last stop. The restaurant remains open until 10.30pm, but get there an hour before six to have time to browse through the bookstore. Fairy lights adorn bookshelves and a big leather chair rests in one corner, in which tired shoppers may sink to enjoy a cup of tea.

Once you've got your stash of enchanting literature in place, head up the winding staircase to land at the restaurant. Here, you'll find the chance to down your fill of cider and beer, in a dining room whose large windows overlook the River Liffey. Pick a vintage Irish cider or a golden ale. The wine list is lengthy, too, with flavour notes explicitly stated. Everything goes well with the exquisite (albeit slightly expensive) food. The bookshelf theme doesn't disappear here and if you're lucky enough to bag a corner seat, you'd be rewarded with the chance to have your picture taken against tattered hardbounds and glass of chardonnay in hand. The way out, post an excellent meal and Potter on your mind, will feel like walking down the Divination Stairwell.