Step away from the green cocktails and get stuck into some of these Irish drinks…
Traditional Irish moonshine, poitin (pronounced ‘put-cheen’) is a fiery spirit that can only be made from cereals, grain, whey, sugar beet, molasses and potatoes, and unlicensed distilling has been outlawed in Ireland since 1661. Never heard of it before? Maybe you know it by another name; "Mountain Dew" (no, not that luminous green stuff from America) "Mountain Tea" and the "Devil’s Spittle" are its alias'... but don't let that last one put you off. This stuff tastes nothing like spittle.
Nowadays a few kosher distilleries have cropped up bottling the stuff, like Mad March Hare, Teeling Spirit of Dublin and Knockeen Hills (their "Extra" is bottled at 90%), and if you wanna learn about it from the pros, The Sun Tavern hosts Poitin tasting sessions where you can sample a few different varieties and enjoy one in a tankard cocktail. At 65% proof be careful though, this stuff may be legal, but it's strong!
Scotch might seem like it's ruling the roost when it comes to malted spirit production, but the Irish were actually the first distillers rocking whiskey on the British Isles. They were even smashing it over their Scottish neighbours back in the 19th Century, which is when it is said that the 'e' was added to the name by the Irish to distinguish themselves from their inferior Gaelic cousins. Then popularity waned, and whiskey almost faced extinction on the Emerald Isle... but now it's kicking ass more than ever, and Irish distilleries are bringing out some of the best drams in the biz.
Don't know where to start? Well, research is the best bit, yo. Start by exploring the world of single pot stilled whiskies; a killer style of Irish whiskey made by a single distillery from a mixed mash of malted and unmalted barley, distilled in a pot still. Redbreast Whiskies fall into this category, and they're epic. They're matured in exclusively first-fill Sherry and bourbon casks, and their 15-year-old is a good place to kick things off. Teeling Whiskey also knows how to rock the category, but it's their Small Batch - a kick-ass example of an epic blended whiskey - that sets our world on fire, with its hand-selected casks of grain and malt whiskey.
Or if you love a Single Malt, seek out HYDE. These guys are "all about the wood", baby, with each whiskey in the fam has been treated to a different kinda cask, from ex-bourbon, port and stout casks to those that used to home rum and sherry. As well as a wicked variety of barrels, the whiskey is ‘finished’ in the temperate environment of County Cork, where they're rocking a micro-climate not found anywhere else in Ireland. The warm summers and mild winters make for the best kinda ageing environment for whiskey.
If you're looking to sample a few drams of Irish Whiskey in a bar that knows it's sh*t (when we can), it's back to the crew at The Sun Tavern for the good stuff. They've got over 70 to sample, as well as plenty of whiskey cocktails populating their killer menu.
Just because it's St Paddy's Day, it doesn't mean you have to drop your morals and drink something green and artificial. Just switch the brown spirit in your sour for a good Irish whiskey, like Jameson, and float some red wine on top.
45ml Irish whiskey
20ml lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup
Shake all ingredients together, strain into a glass and float 15ml of red wine on top
Originally served at Shannon airport to a bunch of chilly American passengers on a layover, they then took the recipe back to San Francisco and spread the word. No need to hop on Aer Lingus to taste one though, it's very easy to make at home.
3/4 fill a hot glass with hot coffee
Add two sugar cubes, stir until dissolved
Add 30mls of Irish whiskey, like Bushmills
Top with lightly whipped cream, pouring over a spoon so it floats on top.
Garnish with three coffee beans for good luck.
You can learn more about this epic cocktail (and the secrets to making the best) in our Ultimate Irish Coffee guide!
While not something we recommend ordering in Ireland unless you're looking for trouble (the original name for this has some pretty unpleasant connotations), it's highly encouraged to knock back this combination of Guinness and ale elsewhere though. Start by half-filling a pint glass with chilled ale and then slowly top with Guinness, pouring over a spoon so it sits gently on top. Cheers.
By no means unlikely bedfellows, Guinness and Champagne mix nicely together in this classy St Paddy's Day drink. Pour 150ml of cold Guinness into a Champagne flute and slowly float 45mls of Champagne on top by pouring over a spoon.
Or just keep it simple and order a pint at the Toucan. This ISN’T an Irish bar… it’s a Guinness bar. As you’d expect, the Guinness is amazing and they take their time pouring it, but you might want to turn up early as they've been known to pour their way through 38 kegs of the black stuff! It’s small and it’s Soho central, so get down early and get downstairs to the heart of it all where you’ll hopefully find Colin the owner who has knowledge of Guinness and Irish Whiskey like no other.
Want something a little more maverick on St Paddy's day? Mix up
45ml Crystal Head Vodka Original
15ml Green Chartreuse
30ml fresh lemon juice
1 level teaspoon of caster sugar
a pinch of salt and some lemon zest
Dry shake it all. The chuck in some ice, shake again, then fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. Yep, it's supposed to be as green as a leprechaun's lawn. Garnish with a mint crown and you're ready to rock.
So apparently this is a 'Noctail' (a cocktail made of ingredients that thrive in the darkness) - who knew?! We're into it, partly cos after a few whiskies we like to think that we thrive in the darkness. This is gonna take a bit more patience & prep, but trust us - it's worth it. First of all you gotta make some Irish Cep Mushroom Infused Sexton Irish Whiskey. To do this, just combine a pinch of dried Irish Cep mushrooms in an airtight container with 40ml of whiskey, and let it infuse for between 2-3 days depending on how 'Irish' you wanna go. Strain back into the bottle & refrigerate for later use, or whip up this epic cocktail by adding
10ml Grade A Maple Syrup
3 Dashes Angostura Bitters to a chilled rocks glass, followed by
40ml of your Irish Cep Mushroom-Infused Sexton whiskey and an ice ball
Stir briefly for several seconds, garnish with a purple shamrock and crack on. Ooh-mami my.
This baby has been made in collaboration with Aaron from epic Irish bar Homeboy, who describes The Maize and Ways as 'a twist on an old rum drink called a Corn'N'Oil' with clear banana notes running through this unexpectedly delicious Irish whiskey drink.' Sounds like something we can get down with. Grab the following ingredients:
50ml Sailor's Home The Journey Irish Whiskey
20ml velvet falernum (a lightly alcoholic lime mint and clove cordial)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Squeeze of a lime wedge
Add them all to a rocks glass and stir. Bingo! The party is on.