About the Author: John Cummins has been a bartender for nearly 15 years, most of those in Dublin. He is in fact, as the name might suggest, Irish. He is equally fond of drinking Guinness, drinking songs, and telling stories about drinking Guinness and drinking songs. Here's his guide to how to drink in Dublin.
First of all, thanks for visiting my city—the fact that you're here helps keeps me and my friends in beer money. And I appreciate that more than you know.
This guide is intended for newcomers to Dublin and should give you a very rough idea of where to go and what to drink (whilst simultaneously preventing you from coming to harm on your first night). What happens after that is your own business: I take no responsibility for your safety, wellbeing, personal finances, romantic entanglements, hangovers, the stock market or anything else that happens while you're here. If you go home with stories to tell, well, then you've got the idea.
Where To Go...
It's your first day, play it safe.
Most people find themselves drawn towards Temple Bar. Temple Bar is a dirty, vomit-ridden hole where you'll pay through the nose for sub-standard drinks and service in overcrowded, tacky bars: don't go. Not on your first night at least. Please.
Don't get me wrong, there's a time and a place for the type of entertainment that you'll come across in Temple Bar. These days, the amount of stag and hen parties (you guys call them bachelor and bachelorette parties, I think) at Temple Bar have decreased dramatically, but you're still much more likely to meet fellow Americans, Canadians, and Italians at Temple Bar—Dublin people tend to stay away because of the prices.
One notable exception to the stay-far-away-from-Temple-Bar rule is The Storehouse on Crown Alley, where the staff are friendly, the food is decent and the prices aren't completely outrageous. There's music there seven days a week and I've always been looked after really well. So there, I've said it: don't go to Temple Bar, and if you do, go to The Storehouse.
So you're not going near Temple Bar (right?) but you're just off the plane, the jet-lag/hangover hasn't kicked-in yet and you've a thirst on you like a dehydrated camel so where are you going to go to quench it?
Chances are that you'll be staying fairly centrally. You'll realize quickly that Dublin is a small city and it's possible to walk everywhere. The river Liffey, which runs through the city, provides absolutely none of the water used to make Guinness at the St. James' Gate brewery but it does divide the city into a North side and South side.