“A real bargain…”
“I don’t want to go back to England.”
“I want to buy a house in North Kerry.”
( Arthur Mayne Pharmacy and Wine Garden, Pembroke St. Cork. 2.45 p.m.)
Situated in an old pharmacy, much of the original display in Arthur Mayne Pharmacy & Wine Garden is still intact. Everything else, everything new, is actually styled to lend to that feel of the original. There has been a bit of money put into the affair and it really lends to the heritage pub feel, ideally from the glass counter at the front, itself sporting cakes as well as Simple cleansing lotion! Beside the counter there is a tall glass cabinet complete with bell jars and ostentatious servings of Lin. Camph. Ammon. (!) from the Cork Chemical & Drug Ltd. Nothing new there!
Opposite the serving counter in the next section wines are displayed from cooling cabinets, above which an impressive selection are lying horizontal (I later discovered that one can serve oneself from these same ‘machines’). Following on from that, and deeper into the interior there is the more pokey, pub-like quarter, more expected, and this leads onto the back and a door to the smoking area which it shares with the Crane Lane, a revamped and certainly more modern feeling pub.
The fact that this is a wine bar means that this is not your commoner gardener environment. People here make Apple Mac jokes – whatever they are!
Food-wise, there are fancy sandwiches, with feta cheese and basil oil drizzled. Soup is also on offer along with the sweets – scones and croissant, However, this is not ‘cukraszda’ country. And I’m not just referring to Mayne’s, or Cork here. Compared to a confectioner’s shop in downtown Budapest things lie a little more sparse on the ground in Ireland as a whole. Be warned.
The atmosphere in the chemist’s is reminiscient of a pub regardless of its pretensions – i.e. wine – and where the decor is old fashioned, quaint, this will be no better, or worse, a few drinks in. The only distinction is that if you step in for a Beamish you’ll be left squeamish! If you choose the wine, you’ll be fine!! So drink up and become European for a while.
Of course, wine and Cork are not, as may first appear, the oddest of bedfellows as indeed there is a history of import and re-export within the region dating back to the middle ages. It is, however, not the first word that rolls off the average Corkonian’s tongue when asked to name their drink of choice but with people trending away from pub-only tippling to the occasional night in with a bottle, the wine (no longer just plonk) is definitely after finding its feet. Having lived in Spain and France, and now Hungary, I have over the years developed a taste for the fruit of the vine and on the occasion that I am back in Cork and looking for something a little out of the ordinary I know I know a place, Arthur Mayne Pharmacy & Wine Garden on Pembroke street, in the heart of the city.