MVP – A Local Bar with a Global Appeal

Strolling up past Leonard’s Corner at the tail end of Clanbrassil Street, I have MVP in my sights. Nestled discreetly in on the right side of the road, just before the canal, I’m about to veer off the footpath when I find myself ambushed from behind. Bar-manager Anna doesn’t have time to stop though. Lots to do, she explains, but fear not – her multi-tasking madness knows no limits. “Honestly, I’d love to have more time to do everything I want to do. I’d love to survive on 2 hours sleep a night and just keep going,” she enthuses.

Image by Anna Walsh. Caption- -Checkmates- Resident chess master Arnaud (left) with manager Anna and bartender Paddy-

Image by Anna Walsh. Caption- -Checkmates- Resident chess master Arnaud (left) with manager Anna and bartender Paddy

As we reach the entrance to the pub, she directs me over to a seat in the corner while she buzzes about, amassing an arsenal of implements together with a large crate of oranges. She’s making an orange sherbet for a punch to be debuted later that week, and begins scraping off the orange skin into a plastic bowl as the interview gets underway. The spritz of zest in the air is almost as refreshing as her energetic musings on life in and around MVP.

Image Source: Dermot O'Shea

Image source: Dermot O’Shea

“We don’t set out to do things differently or be hip. We just do our own thing. We don’t have a set plan. Things just constantly evolve and we just go with it,” she explains while manipulating the oranges with deft skill.

We scan over a particularly prickly review from a Dublin magazine going back to last year, just after MVP had opened, one saturated in negative employment of the now-fatigued “hipster” moniker. Is it a label they embrace?

“We don’t take much notice of it. It’s quite relaxed here, more ‘ageing hipsters’.,” she offers.

So hipsters before hipster was even cool?

“Exactly! In essence, the ultimate hipster!” she laughs.

The interior of MVP is a perfectly crafted throwback to a previous generation of pub. “A pub. No fuss,” reads the banner across the homepage of their website. And yet it’s a pub that serves up some of the best cocktails in the city, made by some of the country’s most accomplished bartenders. Former MVP stalwart Shane Harte represented Ireland in the Beefeater Gin Global Bartender Competition in 2014 while Anna herself is the current Diageo World Class Irish champion which saw her travel to South Africa last year to compete against the best bartenders in the world, as well as continue to carry out a host of ambassadorial duties throughout the following twelve months.

Image source: Dermot O'Shea

Image source: Dermot O’Shea

She admits it’s an eclectic mix – the “old man pub” fused with world class cocktails. But, according to her, it’s one that works well.

“The idea was to make great drinks accessible to everyone. In some of the fancier cocktail bars in town you feel – perhaps not intimidated – but unsure of what the drinks are all about or how to approach them. Whereas at MVP you can come down on a Wednesday evening, dressed down, and still enjoy a high-end martini or one of our own creations.”

But are people coming in, dressed down, really looking to have a high end martini or are they only just down for a quiet pint?

“People come in who might not normally drink cocktails but would be curious all the same. So they sit at the bar with their Guinness and they’ll be watching what we’re doing and pipe up ‘Now what are ya doing there?’ and they’ll end up trying a cocktail.”

After a mere fifteen months open, MVP has already established itself as a true “local”.

“Everyone who comes in here loves getting involved,” Anna beams. “Aside from the staff, we also have all these adopted people who might pop in from time to time when we need a hand, maybe clearing some tables or anything at all. It’s a really nice atmosphere to be in.”

The upstairs area serves as a meeting spot for weekend yoga classes taught by a soldier from Cathal Brugha barracks, as well as hosting Tuesday-night chess sessions (labelled “Pawn Stars”), run by their resident chess expert, Frenchman Arnaud, who promises to partner-up with anyone coming alone and looking to play. Prizes include sumptuous baked potatoes crafted by Spudbox.

Image source: Dermot O'Shea

Image source: Dermot O’Shea

The daytime sees the bar function as a sandwich shop – “Café en Swan” – run by the gregarious and infectiously passionate ‘Swan’. I highly recommend the bacon and brie with spiced jam.

MVP might seem hipster to some, but manages to fit everything together in a very natural and effortless fashion. As for the world-class Anna, she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

“I don’t know where I’m gonna be next year or in a couple of years time. My thing is to just keep doing something new every day and keep testing myself and pushing myself. Even though I’ll be doing a lot of travelling and I’m always involved in different projects, I love having MVP as my base.”


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