Seeing an Irish whiskey drink on a cocktail menu is about as common as seeing a unicorn in broad daylight. In other words, not very common. And no, I’m not talking about a “Jameson and Ginger,” nor an Irish Car Bomb, which isn’t even Irish (and don’t even think about ordering one in Ireland). I’m talking about good, balanced, Irish whiskey cocktails.
The absence of Irish whiskey and Irish whiskey cocktails on many bar menus is for a number of reasons. One of which is that until recently, there largely hasn’t been the Irish whiskey availability (outside of the major brands like Jameson, Bushmills, and Tullamore Dew) like there has been the availability of Scotch, bourbon, and rye. Additionally, Irish whiskey has typically been considered a much smoother whiskey, without some of the complexities and flavors of other whiskey types. As a result, the whiskey often takes a backseat to other flavors.
Nonetheless the world has given us some great Irish whiskey cocktails. Yes, perhaps the Irish coffee, but a number of other great Irish cocktail recipes. So today, leading into the week of St. Patrick’s Day, I come to you with a round-up of three easy Irish whiskey cocktail recipes.
It’s only appropriate that there’d be a cocktail named the “Emerald” to celebrate the Emerald Isle. No, it’s not green, but it does use Irish whiskey, which isn’t what your staple whiskey cocktail calls for. It’s essentially a Manhattan, except you’re replacing the Angostura bitters with orange bitters, and replacing the rye with Irish whiskey. You’ll stir all of the ingredients with cracked ice and then strain it into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a orange or lemon peel if you’d like. (Photo by Wes Rowe via Serious Eats.)
- 1.5 oz. Irish whiskey
- .5 oz. sweet vermouth
- .5 oz. orange liqueur
- .5 oz. fresh lime juice
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Lime for garnish
Derby cocktails have largely always been associated with derby days, and as a result, typically involved bourbon. It seems that the first instance of the derby cocktail, was one of a number of variations that Trader Vic published in 1947, using bourbon, lime, sweet vermouth, and orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau). This Irish Derby, however, is an Ireland take (inspired by Serious Eats), and featuring Irish whiskey, and with the addition of Angostura bitters. I used what orange liqueur I had available, and it turned out to be my favorite cocktail from the list (until I had the next cocktail). Simply add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe or other cocktail glass and garnish with a lime.
And let me tell you, it’s got a kick, but it’s one of those dangerous kicks that sneaks up from behind. This is actually similar to one of my favorite cocktails, which uses rye instead of Irish whiskey. This is one of the oldest cocktails on the list, dating back to 1930 to Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel. (Photo by Umamimart on Flickr.)