There’s bourbon whiskey, Scotch whiskey, Japanese whiskey—and, of course, with St. Patrick’s Day coming up this weekend, Irish whiskey. It’s perhaps the easiest-drinking of the bunch and, as New York Times and Washington Post recently noted, it’s seen a surge in popularity, with dozens of new distilleries opening in the last decade.
While Jameson is always a fine go-to on St. Patrick’s Day, and any other time, there are plenty of other interesting options. I asked Sean O’Connell, bartender at Aero Club—which has one of the finest whiskey selections in San Diego—what he’d pick when looking for the perfect Irish whiskey. He likes Teeling, Connemara, Tullamore Dew, Powers, and Knapoogue Castle. If he had to pick favorites, he’d go with Redbreast 12-year and Green Spot. Here’s how he described them:
"Redbreast 12-year is a classic Irish style, single-pot-stilled whiskey aged in Oloroso Sherry casks. This whiskey is sweet with a creamy finish and yields notes of dried, dark fruit, and coconut. Balanced and delicious!"
"Green Spot is a single-pot-stilled Irish whiskey from Midleton Distillery. It’s aged primarily in ex bourbon barrels, which yields definitive oak flavors such as vanilla, toffee, and toasted cereal. It’s also fruity and rich with some floral and nutty characteristics—subtly complex and easy sipping."
O’Connell will be behind the bar at Aero Club March 16 and 17.
For Irish whiskey cocktails, here are some spots to hit up and a recipe to try at home:
St. Patrick’s Day lobby cocktails at US Grant: March 15 through 17, the Vieux Carre cocktail cart will be serving St. Patrick’s Day-inspired whiskey cocktails in the hotel lobby, including the cart’s namesake classic made with an Irish twist: Jameson Cooper’s Croze Irish whiskey, Remy 1738 cognac, Carpano Antica, Benedictine, Peychaud’s and angostura bitters.
Or de Farfadet at Bleu Bohéme: This Irish twist on a French champagne cocktail (or de farfadet means "leprechaun’s gold") is made with Bushmills whiskey, Mathilde Poire pear liqueur, lemon juice, JP Chenet Brut, and Grand Marnier.
The Gentleman's Irish Car Bomb at Kettner Exchange: This elevated take on the Irish shot cocktail combines Irish whiskey, Bailey’s Irish Cream, coconut, stout, and housemade whipped cream.
Morning Joe at Union Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas—or at your place:
1.5 oz Irish whiskey
.5 oz coffee liqueur (they use St. George’s Nola, always a great option)
2 oz cold brew
Add Irish whiskey, coffee liqueur, and cold brew in a glass. Fill with ice, shake and strain into large coupe glass and top with Branca Menta whipped cream:
.5 oz Branca Menta
.25 oz almond syrup
.25 oz agave
1/4 cup heavy cream
Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake until the consistency is loose enough to pour, but firm enough to float atop the cocktail. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Sláinte!
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