Gary Law is the author of Historic Pubs of Belfast, a survey of more than 100 of the oldest and most culturally-significant bars in the city, published by Appletree Press.
Asked to name Northern Ireland's five best pub gardens, he recommends...
Duke of York, Commercial Court, Belfast, 028 9024 1062
Not so much a beer garden, more of a beer alley, with the cobbles of a narrow thoroughfare in the Cathedral Quarter serving as an atmospheric and lively location for an al fresco pint. There's a fab array of whiskeys on offer and always someone interesting to talk to at this heaving city centre drinks rendezvous. Bag one of the seats along the alleyway, admire the attractive window boxes bursting with flowers and home in on one of the wall-mounted heaters when it gets nippy.
O'Hare's, Central Promenade, Newcastle, 028 4372 2487
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea there's a chance to enjoy views of both mountains and tide with a glass of something cold in your hand in one of O'Hare's two outdoor drinking areas. At the front, admire the fine vista of the prom, Dundrum Bay beyond and St John's Point lighthouse in the distance, while from the giant, Camelot-style round tables in the sheltered yard at the back, take in the impressive panorama of the towering Mournes.
Saltwater Brig, Portaferry Road, Kircubbin, 028 4273 8435
Savour the quiet delights of a loughshore pub by taking your drink outside on a warm summer's day to the picnic tables on the grass and listen to the bees humming and the occasional gull cawing in the distance. The outside area at Saltwater Brig is a neat, tranquil garden with lawn, shrubs and paved paths and there can be few greater pleasures here than enjoying a bite to eat, sipping from a glass of what you fancy and enjoying a lazy afternoon chatting in the sunshine.
Johnny Joe's, Mill Street, Cushendall., 028 2177 1992
This pearl among the watering holes of the Glens is a drinker's delight both inside and out. The little maze of tiny sitting rooms, snugs and narrow corridors that makes up this friendly old main street bar opens out onto a spacious and attractive yard which has been attractively fitted-out with wooden seating, enamel signs and hanging plants. It's buzzing with music and craic on weekend nights and it can be strangely hard to tear yourself away.
Cutter's Wharf, Lockview Road, Belfast, 028 9080 5100
Perched at a table just a few feet away from the lazily-flowing Lagan with the evening sun still high and condensation trickling down your glass... it's the perfect way to unwind after a hectic day in the city. This relaxed Stranmillis bar is one of the very few to enjoy a riverside location and it makes the most of it. You can eat at the water's edge, chill with friends on one of the comfy sofas, or simply sit and watch rowers from the nearby boat club cruising up and down the river. Bliss.
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