Barfly: Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1
Twist 'n' shout
Twisted Pepper 54, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1
Oh dear – it was turning into one of THOSE evenings. Returning from an endurance-test trek to the toilets (see panel), we discovered our drinking companion semi-prone across the banquette in a state of fuggy disbelief. "That guy just stole your pint!" he sputtered, struggling to bend his brain around what had happened. Peering through the throng, Barfly indeed spied a pallid young man clutching a very familiar looking drink. Had he merely helped himself to the dregs of our beer, we might have shrugged it off. But, reader, the tankard was three-quarters full. Quicker than you could furiously mumble 'out of my goddamn way hipsters', we were pushing past the crowd to confront the light fingered reveller.
"Dude," we said, "That's my pint". He stopped up, made an 'o' shape with his mouth and adjusted his fringe (well, I say 'fringe ' – it was actually close to a one-person Blancmange reunion).
He appeared lost for a reply. "That's. My. Pint." I repeated, levering the glass from his grip. Lost for a devastating putdown, the perp fell into a defeated slouch, mumbled something incoherent (it certainly wasn't 'sorry for stealing your drink') and melted away. Standing there, surrounded by gawkers, we wondered if we truly wished to partake of a lager a stranger had, only now, greedily slurped at. Well, it's the principle, isn't it? (Incidentally, for his sake, we sincerely hope the light-fingered urchin didn't think of repeating the trick somewhere else. Make off with a stranger's beer in certain spots around Dublin and a stern talking to is the least you could expect).
I suppose it's a back-handed recommendation to point out that, if you are inclined towards beverage larceny, at Twisted Pepper you'll probably escape with your life (if not your dignity). The patrons are, on the whole, chilled and forgiving. You will, of course, have heard about its hipster rep and, yes, on any given afternoon it is impossible to lob a (recently purloined) quart of pilsner in any random direction without clunking half a dozen members of the 'interesting beard' demographic on the back of the noggin.
There is, however, more to Twisted Pepper (though if you DO want to laugh at Dublin hipsters, this, really, has to be your starting point).For one thing, the spread of punters is wider than caricature might suggest. Late at night, the average age is surprisingly low. On the other hand, if a decent gig is happening at the back of house performance space, the profile skews considerably higher.
You could probably spend an entire article trying to tease out why the audience for cutting edge electronica shows is 95pc comprised of girlfriend-less types sadly dancing by themselves.
The tunes are great and yet the sense you've stumbled into a stygian pit of single's night loser-dom is overpowering ( to be clear, Barfly is not saying being single makes you a loser, simply that these dudes always seem so tragically mopey you wish they all had girlfriends).
The mothership of Dublin's largest left-of- centre clubbing complex, the main bar is long and full of comfortable seating, with a proper Lower East Side dive-bar style drinks dispensary opposite. During daylight hours, the venue is a warren of left-of-centre activity, with an in-house barber, coffee shop and – what is this? – a " record store" (quick, ask someone who remembers the '90s – they may know). It adds up to an all-too rare case of a Dublin pub worth swinging past by day and by night.
Just keep an eye on whatever you've just ordered from the bar– you never can tell when those parched hipsters and their scary fringes will strike.