Cork is the drinking-man’s city break a short hop from London
There’s a video doing the rounds of Cillian Murphy being asked where’s the best city to go drinking. Without hesitating he replies ‘Cork’.
Filled with rickety old pubs that seem to grow organically from the city’s architecture, like some alcoholic Hogwarts, it’s ideal for a weekend of enthusiastic bar-hopping.
With Cork’s airport a swift 20-minute drive from the city centre, you can leave London at 5pm and have a pint of Beamish in your hand before 8pm. If you get a chance, neck a couple of pints before you get on the plane – it’ll take the edge off the notoriously windy landing, which often involves descending at a terrifying 45 degree angle before you touch down, instilling in you a new appreciation for life.
Where to stay
The Dean hotel is a great, central hub from which to explore the beautiful old town. Located close to the river, it’s a short walk to the main shopping and eating streets, as well as a decent starting point for a good old fashioned pub crawl.
The Dean has a buzzy downstairs bar and an upstairs restaurant, Sophie’s, with a roof terrace and views across the docks. The food varies throughout the day, from a hearty Irish breakfast, through to wood-fired pizzas and steaks in the evening.
The rooms are modern and chic, and if you’re going in a group I highly recommend the penthouse (available from €250 per person), which is a sprawling collection of rooms bigger than most London flats and includes a huge TV, table football, record player, and sweeping copper bathtubs.
The hotel also has a decent gym, and a swimming pool complete with acrobat’s rings hanging from the ceiling.
The last weekend of October is the Cork Jazz Festival, the biggest event in the city’s calendar and a great time to really luxuriate in a long weekend of persistent inebriation.
Virtually all of the city’s pubs and events spaces have musicians booked, ranging from enthusiastic locals to internationally renowned stars. Be prepared to book early and pay dearly for hotels over the weekend – it really is a massive deal – and get your restaurant reservations in nice and early, too.
Having said that, there’s fun to be had simply sloping from bar to bar, each one spilling out into the (inevitably wind- and rain-swept) streets, and elbowing your way through the throng to catch a glimpse of a bunch of extravagantly bearded men thrashing out a barely recognisable, discordant cover version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
So about the drinking…
Cillian knows what he’s talking about. There are more strange old pubs than you could possibly drink at. The Shelbourne in the Victorian Quarter is a great place to start before you shamble over to the Mutton Lane Inn, hidden down a shaded alley, which feels every bit as old as its 250 years.
For something completely different, try the High-B Bar, a tiny little venue above a shop that looks like your nan’s living room and doesn’t allow mobile phones. For a more traditional Irish music experience, The Corner House has live bands on year-round and is known for its trad sessions.