March 18, 2022
I realize some may be saying “wait, has A.J. lost it, shouldn’t this drink have been made for yesterday, the actual Saint Patrick’s Day?” And while I can’t say I haven’t lost “it” (whatever “it” may be), I can say that I am fully of the opinion that while Saint Patrick’s Day can be a jolly time, and while I’m all for savoring and celebrating Irish culture and history (and other cultures and histories, too, for that matter), I don’t think that it should be regulated to just one day! Especially (for the sake of this particular blog’s focus, but not overall naturally) when it comes to drinks highlighting Irish whiskey or other Irish-made imbibables. Hence, the Mike Collins, the Tom Collins sibling (a once-large family now sadly less-known) that subs in Irish whiskey instead of Old Tom gin. I love ‘em both, but if you’ve yet to be introduced, Mike’s whiskey undertones of vanilla and spice and grain (I’m going with Teeling Small Batch today) and sweet nature go rather nicely with the citrus zing and bubbles here – while also providing a nice kick to the affair. It’s a springtime favorite, but one I’ve found lends itself more to early spring, to sitting outside and sipping on the porch while there’s an echo of chill still in the air (as opposed to running full-on through a late-spring field of flowers). A swell celebration today, as well as yesterday and tomorrow.
2 ounces Teeling Small Batch Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, juice, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Fill a Collins glass or comparable three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with the lemon slice (stirring briefly if you want Mike mixed more).
December 23, 2021
Here we are, Christmas Eve Eve, and if you’ve been putting off your holiday gift buying, well, I’ve been there (this is all if you’re someone who celebrates this particular winter holiday). I am, however, this time, here to help. Because, the best gifts – or at least near the top of the list – are homemade liqueurs that you’ve made yourself with care and love and give to someone. I can hear you saying, “wait, A.J., don’t homemade liqueurs take time to make and to get all the goodness good?” and you, friend, are right, in the main. However! There are a few delicious delights in Luscious Liqueurs (the book I wrote of homemade liqueurs, if that doesn’t sound too haughty), not a lot, not even a handful, that are meant to made right before consuming. Meaning, you can make them today, and gift them tomorrow or the next day. One of them is the very recipe below, for homemade Irish Cream Liqueur, a recipe that I first got the bones of from old pal Tara. It’s good to have old pals! And this recipe – again, if it doesn’t sound too haughty – beats the virtual pants off any big brand Irish Cream Liqueur. So, whip (or blend) it up, put on a nice label and bow, remind the gift-receiver to keep it in the fridge, and bask in the glow of their thanks and praise for your tasteful present. Then maybe they’ll give you a sip.
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur, from Luscious Liqueurs
Serves 4 to 6
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1-2/3 cups Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon instant coffee (see Note below)
2 Tablespoon chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1. Add all of the ingredients in any order you want to a sturdy blender. Blend on a medium setting for a full minute, making sure that everything is completely combined.
2. Pour the mixture (using a funnel if needed) into a large (at least 1-1/2 liters) or a number of small bottles or jars. Seal, and put into the refrigerator before gifting.
A Note: Last time I made this, I used coffee itself instead of the grounds (it was Bustelo, if you know that lovely stuff), and it worked a treat. You be you.
August 28, 2020
I gotta admit straight up front that as I’m typing this my dog Ainsley is licking my ear. I also have to admit that this drink is a variation of a drink from Dark Spirits called The Serpent’s Tooth, and while we’re admitting things (or at least while I am), I’ll admit that I can’t quite recall where I first found said Serpent’s Tooth, and while I could go to the library-of-booze-books and look it up, that would then wake up said dog (who has gone from licking my ear to napping), and, well, she needs her rest. So, there we are!
However, I can tell you that this is a some odd assortment of ingredients in a way, and I ended up making it for a Friday Night Cocktail partially because it’s good, but also partially cause I was doing a bit o’ liquor shelves organizing (which can be daunting, between us), and found a couple bottles with just a sip or splash or small stream or two in them, including a bottle of Combier Kümmel. Kümmel, if you don’t happen to know, is the caraway, fennel, cumin (in the main) liqueur that kicked off in Holland way back in the 1500s, and went on to become an Eastern Europe, parts of Western Europe, UK golf club favorite. It hasn’t seen the meteoric rise in the US yet as other once-obscure liqueurs, but I have a fondness for it (along with most things boozy I suppose), a fondness not evidenced by the fact I forgot I had this particular bottle on the shelves nearly empty, but a fact evidenced by me instantly taking a sip and then making this drink with it.
A drink where our nearly-orphaned Kümmel is mixed with an array of items: Irish whiskey (this time, The Quiet Man), Italian vermouth (this time, Punt e’ Mes), and aromatic bitters (this time, The Bitter Housewife). All those ingredients are also in The Serpent’s Tooth, unlike the next one: club soda. As it’s summer, and heated, wanted to turn this into a cooling cooler type of cool, and soda and ice did it. Oh, went with a lemon twist, too, as opposed to the original tooth’s lemon juice. Lighter lemon, I suppose, and it worked a treat. Lots of flavor in this one, bubbling under the surface like an anaconda (with a toothache, if you want to take it there), while still having those, well, bubbles to refresh.
The Effervescent Snake at the Dentist
2 ounces The Quiet Man Irish whiskey
1 ounce Combier Kümmel
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes vermouth
2 dashes The Bitter Housewife Aromatic bitters
4 ounces chilled club soda
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whiskey, Kümmel, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step 1 into the glass and over the ice.
3. Top with the club soda. Stir briefly. Garnish with the twist.
PS: Yes! Those are porcupine quills in the image. I wanted to the use a snake, but couldn’t track one down. A failing, I know.
May 8, 2020
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, great drinks are even greater with a good story – and a great story takes it to even another level. Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of McConnell’s Irish Whisky in the post (what a nice thing! Especially in these stay-at-home times! So, don’t be jealous, I’ll share). And what a great story to go along with such a dandy whisky. Here are the basics – McConnell’s started producing whisky way way back in 1776, a year famous here in the U.S. for things other than whisky, though I’m sure a lot was consumed here at that time, too, hahaha. The whisky was made in Belfast, but soon being sipped all over the world by discerning sippers. But then! Tragedy, in the form of a vast fire that destroyed (so sadly) 500,000 gallons of whisky and a chunk of the distillery itself. Persevering, they rebuilt, and whisky flowed. But then! Tragedy, again, in the form of prohibition, which really put the damper on long-distance imports to the U.S., a monster-sized consumer – and that sad event destroyed the distillery, like the fire, but worse. Until this year, when it rose the economic and literal ashes, like a tipsy phoenix.
Of course, a good story like that (and distilleries coming alive and alive again are good, good stories) doesn’t mean as much if the flavor doesn’t rise to the tale. McConnell’s is a swell tipple, however, so the tale is ripe for more telling. A blended whisky, it’s aged five years in American oak, and as other friendly Irish whiskys, it has an approachable (not annoying) sweet nature. Beyond the lovely bottle, it sets itself apart thanks to a singular vanilla, nutmeg, spice and hint-of-smokiness taste. Yummy. So yummy, you could be forgiven for only consuming this recovered-from-history hit solo, or with a splash of water, or maybe a cube or two of ice as the mood descends on your day. Heck, I drank a lot of it that way myself, and only felt happy about it.
However! I also just can’t resist combining spirits and liqueurs I like into cocktails – and the welcoming, flavorful nature of McConnell’s is a bountiful base for a cocktail that lets it shine, while introducing a few friends that can stand alongside proudly. Today, I went with the classic, if not super-widely known, Tipperary. This version (there’s a separate cocktail carrying the same name from a few years earlier) goes back I believe to the 1922s, if memory serves, but don’t take me to task on it if I’m confused. To go with our mighty McConnell’s, the drink brings another legend to the mix, herbally, mystical, Green Chartreuse, along with sweet vermouth – I’m going with Punt e’ Mes here, which is just a touch drier than some, while still delivering more lush herbal notes , alongside a gentle bitter. Altogether, this cocktail delivers amazingly. I mean, it’s amazingly delicious. So, so, delicious, and just the right one for celebrating McConnell’s coming back on the booze scene.
The Tipperary Cocktail
1-3/4 ounces McConnell’s Irish whisky
1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce Punt e’ Mes sweet vermouth
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
A Note: I’ve seen this with a lemon twist as garnish (heck, I’ve even had a great one that way), but with this particular trio, I didn’t think the brighter citrus notes worked. But if you do, do.
March 16, 2018
This all-time St. Patrick’s Day dreamweaver is one I suggest to every person I know for celebrating on March 17, cause it’s delicious, sure, and so much better than the array of chemically-green’d beer and such often served on the day. But also cause it was created by Jeremy Sidener, a true gentleman from Kansas, of which there aren’t many – true gentlemen, that is. The Dublin 8’s also fantastically refreshing. So, what are you waiting for? Might as well start celebrating now, right?
The Dublin 8
2 ounces Irish whiskey (I originally used Clontarf 1014 in this, but others would shine as well)
3 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
3 ounces chilled ginger ale or ginger beer
Lime quarter for garnish
Lime slice for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass, or similarly-sized glass, three quarters up with ice cubes. Add the whiskey.
2. Add the orange juice and ginger ale.
3. Squeeze a lime wedge over the glass, and then drop it in. Stir gently. Garnish with the slice of lime.
May 2, 2017
One more from the recently departed master of fiction short, medium, and longer, William Trevor (read past William Trevor Cocktail Talk posts for more about the man), this from his book short-ish novel The Silence in the Garden. I’m slowly trying to catch up to his pretty prodigious output, hoping to cover it all. This book I picked up recently, reading on the bus as I usually do, being struck by his amazing precision of phrase, and of course by the Irish whiskey quote below (which happens as one character is beginning to get rather tipsy before a wedding breakfast, and before she makes a Bishop rather nervous).
Noticing that her glass had become empty, Mrs. Moledy rose and made her way into the house through the open French windows. “There’s nothing can’t be put right with a drop of Paddy,” was a favourite axiom of the big trawlerman who came into Myley Flynn’s, a fresh-faced man with exploded veins all over his nose and cheeks. In her own view Power’s was the better drinks, but what wasn’t there you couldn’t have. She found the bottle of Paddy among the sherry decanters on the sideboard.
–William Trevor, The Silence in the Garden
March 17, 2017
Guess what? It’s St. Patrick’s Day. You may know this? I’m guessing you know this? Sure, sure. Please tell me though that even though you are aware of this holiday celebrating Irish culture and history that you weren’t going to celebrate by drinking some noxious green beer or something like that. Don’t make me sad. Make me happy. Tell me instead, that you are looking for the right drink featuring Irish whiskey. And I will tell you that I am here to help. With a slightly modified version of a drink I recently found in the Café Royal Cocktail Book – the reprinted edition from the fine folks at Mixellany. If you wanted to send me a copy of the original, go on, do it! In said book, it says this drink called Triplets was created by J. Nash. Thanks Mr. or Miss Nash! Also, it says this book originally used Vat 69 Whisky, an old brand of blended Scotch. It’s mingled with Drambuie (makes sense, with Scotch, right?), and Lillet, in equal parts. A bit nutty! But even nuttier, because when I read that, I thought – I’ll bet Irish whisky (mellow by nature, in some ways, and not completely un-related to its cousins across the water) would be good here, too. Especially a nice version like The Quiet Man Irish whiskey, blended and bottled in Derry, Ireland. Guess what? It is good here! And will make your St. Patrick’s day dreamy. Trust me! The world is based on trust, and now it’s your turn.
1 ounce The Quiet Man Irish Whiskey
1 ounce Drambuie
1 ounce Lillet
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add each triplet. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the holiday.
January 24, 2017
The wonderful William Trevor passed away lately. One of the all-time top short story writers for sure, he also wrote a number of short-ish novels which are amazing for their pace, narrative control, writing chops of course, and way that his characters both seem remarkably normal and remarkable. Anywho, if you don’t know him, read him. The Story of Lucy Gault like many of his works takes place in Ireland, and really is one whole life, including one scene with one of the memorable Irish whiskeys.
Not listening any more, Lucy read the advertisements: for Ryan’s Towel Soap, and corner beer and whiskey and Guinness’s stout. She’s asked her papa what Guinness was when they saw it written up and he said it was the stuff Henry drank. There was a bottle of whiskey they’d left behind, only a little gone from it. Power’s it was.
–William Trevor, The Story of Lucy Gault