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The target demographic for Dublin’s first booze-free bar is people who don’t want to consume alcohol but still want to have a good time, says Vaughan Yates. Together with his business partner Oisin Davis, Yates is opening The Virgin Mary on Capel Street. The stylish bar seats 30 and offers a selection of non-alcoholic cocktails, beers and wines.

The bar could be patronised by people who are pregnant, people who abstain from alcohol for religious reasons, teetotallers, or those just looking to cut down on their alcohol intake. The new owners also hope the bar will appeal to drinkers who just want more options for places to socialise with friends.

When Yates tells drinkers that he is opening a no-alcohol bar, he is typically met with the same response. “Their first reaction is just to burst out laughing”, he says.

Yates and Davis previously collaborated on a premium Irish tonic water called Poachers. They were inspired to set up The Virgin Mary after noticing a growing appetite for non-alcoholic drinks and a gap in the market for an alcohol-free venue.

The pub will feature a menu of bespoke non-alcoholic cocktails and a selection of non-alcoholic beers. Unlike many alcohol-free cocktails that can taste like sugary copies of the real thing, these ‘mocktails’ are intended to appeal to grown-up taste buds. The Virgin Mary is a hot and spicy non-alcoholic alternative to the Bloody Mary. And the Cedar’s Spritz is a refreshing non-alcoholic gin and sparkling wine. The bar will also serve Raven Nitro Coffee from a stout tap so it mimics both the texture and appearance of Guinness when served chilled in a glass.

Open from 4pm to 11pm each day, the bar aims to recreate the buzz and atmosphere of any other late-night venue with lighting, music and hopefully plenty of craic. It will also strive to keep waste to a minimum. The pulp from tomatoes used to make Virgin Marys is dehydrated and made into tomato crisps.

With supermarket shelves now carrying more low alcohol and alcohol-free drinks, and as attitudes towards alcohol change, Yates is convinced that there are great possibilities for an alcohol-free venue.

“There is still a long way to go in this field”, he says. “We’re only really at the beginning of it, both from a cultural point of view and products.”

There has been increased focus on alcohol consumption in Ireland. The Health Research Board has found that there is a strong belief (85%) among Irish people that the current level of alcohol consumption is too high. There is also a general perception (73%) that Irish society tolerates high levels of alcohol consumption. Perhaps, The Virgin Mary has opened its doors at just the right time and will be the first of many alcohol-free bars across the country? For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ alcohol-testing solutions, please call 0140 29466 or email us at info@alphabiolabs.ie