A fiddle being played at White's Tavern, Belfast's oldest tavern.
When it comes to whetting your whistle, sometimes it’s good to go off grid and away from the bright lights and hotspots.
Sshhh, here are some of Northern Ireland’s finest ‘hidden’ watering holes.
You need to look skywards to find The Perch, a rooftop roost complete with birdcages and bird themed decoration. Look over the sights of Belfast from the covered interior and al fresco terrace, served by a pretty island bar. In summer, sip delicious cold beers and chill to the house music. In winter, cosy up under the heaters with blankets and a hot cocktail.
Others may lay claim, but, The Ponderosa situated on top of the Glenshane Pass in the Sperrin Mountains, is the highest pub in Ireland: fact. There are great times to be had in this idyllic out of the way spot. Never short of locals’ craic and banter, this is a bar where the world seems to stop as you sit supping and slurping in the Northern Irish wilderness.
The Hole in the Wall
Step off Armagh’s busy Market Street to find the ironically named Hole in the Wall, a gaol in its' previous life. People now want in rather than out, as the old building – lots of beams and pillars – exudes history. The open fire, open armed welcome and friendly regulars make this a great place to enjoy a drink alongside Casper, the much loved resident parrot.
A bar, restaurant and coffee house, Daft Eddy’s is cast away on Sketrick Island, on Strangford Lough, and you need to drive over a causeway – or moor a boat – to get there. The journey is well worth it for incredible views and an atmosphere that are second to none. On a sunny day, the amazing beer garden comes into its own.
You won't stumble across White’s Tavern. You’ll have to go looking for it down Winecellar Entry, one of Belfast’s famous alleyways. The city’s longest serving tavern dating back to 1630, White’s retains real authenticity in its cosy décor. Old whiskey bottles, bar mirrors, vintage photos, traditional music and an open fire all add to the satisfying ambience.
There can’t be a quainter, more delightful bar to walk into than the thatched, stone-built and whitewashed Crosskeys Inn. In range of Seamus Heaney country, near Toomebridge, it’s not that easy to find, but step through the historic latched door and you’ll be glad you did. With excellent singing, storytelling and traditional music nights, there’s a definite feeling of stepping back in time.
Billy Andy’s is one of those bar restaurants in the middle of nowhere where the drive or cab ride to it builds the expectation. The locals say this is a first class restaurant cunningly disguised as an old country pub. The old style bar with fine craft beers and turf fire is certainly a haven especially on a Saturday evening when local musicians gather to play their hearts out.