Most Irish whiskeys are great on the rocks or neat, and it’s almost a sin to obscure the flavor profile of a top shelf brand with a mixer. Most people are all-too familiar with the stereotypical “Irish cocktails” that any true connoisseur stays miles away from, but Irish whiskey does go well in just about any traditional whiskey cocktail. Some cocktails even have special names for the Irish versions, but it’s a safer bet to just specify the specific brand you want. Then, after a long night of enjoying cocktails, there’s no substitute for a good Irish coffee.
On St. Patrick’s day, everybody’s Irish. That usually means wearing green, drinking green beer, ordering stereotypical “green” cocktails, getting drunk and signing up for the police academy. The problem with most stereotypical “green” cocktails is that they completely obliterate the delicious flavor profiles of Irish whiskeys. The popular Everybody’s Irish is typically made from a base of Irish whiskey, which is then drenched in saccharine creme de menthe and spicy-sweet chartreuse. Another stereotypical green cocktail is the Shamrocked. This cocktail actually has more Midori in it than Irish whiskey, so it’s very sweet. Nothing wrong with that, but you’re not really getting the true taste of Ireland.
Then there’s the Irish Car Bomb, which sure gives you the taste of something. This drink isn’t green, but it does involve a whole lot of Ireland, since it requires you to drop a shot glass of Irish whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream into a Guinness Stout. Sure there’s Irish whiskey in there somewhere, but can you honestly taste it through the flavor of rapidly-curdling cream?
There’s a time and place for “green” drinks and Ireland-themed boilermakers, but any cocktail that calls for an unspecified type of whiskey can use Irish whiskey instead. Simpler Irish whiskey brands, including Black Bush and regular Bushmills, also pair well with a simple mixer. Pour some Coke or 7up over ice and then top with Bushmills, and you’ll have a nice refreshing cocktail to take the edge off a hot summer evening.
In some cases, cocktails that use Irish whiskey have specific names. One example is the black and red, which is a Manhattan that uses Black Bush whiskey. Black Bush is a mildly sweet Irish whiskey, so it pairs well with sweet vermouth and bitters. The flavor profile isn’t overly complex, which means it won’t overpower the drink. Be careful ordering this drink by name though, since some people refer to a mixture of Guinness and Killian’s Irish Red as a “black and red.” And, as we all know, beer before whiskey is always a bit risky.
After a long night of enjoying cocktails, nothing will give you a shot in the arm like a frothing mug of Irish coffee. This cocktail might be just as stereotypical as an Everybody’s Irish or an Irish Car Bomb, but it’s also delicious. It involves mixing Irish whiskey, coffee and brown sugar. That mixture is then topped with cream. The cream isn’t traditionally whipped, but many people prefer the texture of whipped cream. Some people even sprinkle cocoa powder on top for a little flourish.