With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching, my
mind turns to all the fun and festive drinks from Ireland. The holiday has
evolved in the States from its original purpose (to honor St. Patrick, the
patron saint of Ireland) into a general celebration of all things Irish, so why
not celebrate with a few Irish libations?
Volumes could be (and have been) written
about Irish, Scottish (Scotch), and American whiskies (bourbon/rye), so we'll
stick to the most basic differences. First off, Irish whiskey is typically
distilled 3 times, whereas Scotch is typically distilled twice. Some say this
results in Irish whiskey's smoother flavor, but that's not always the case.
Bourbon and rye are made from corn (or a mash that is a mixture of corn and
grain), whereas Irish whiskies (and Scotch) are made only from grain. The
corn's natural sugars lend a slightly sweeter flavor to the American whiskies. Irish
whiskey is aged at least 3 years in regular wooden casks, whereas bourbon is
aged in new, charred wooden barrels, which gives it a characteristic smoky
You could spend hundreds of dollars on
whiskey, but there's really no need. If you feel like splurging a bit, whether
in a bar, at a pub, or in your own home, try (about $50/750mL).
While it's not cheap, the quality-to-cost ratio still makes it a great deal. Rich
and spicy with nutty, caramel notes, it also makes a fantastic gift (just ask
my Irish fiance'!).
$50 a bottle a bit too much? Try
complex, and only about $25/750mL, this is a great whiskey for stocking your
home bar, whether you're a regular whiskey drinker or not.
Beer & Other Drinks
Stouts are beers made with roasted malt or
hops (as opposed to unroasted). While stouts originated in England, the most world-renowned
stout is, of course, Guinness, which has many of the characteristics you look
for in a dry stout: a lusciously foamy head, jet black opacity, and an almost creamy
texture and taste with hints of chocolate, coffee, and toasted hazelnuts.
But stouts do not begin and end with Guinness
and there are others worth a sip. The Porterhouse Brewing Co. makes Oyster
Stout that is named so, not because it goes well with oysters (which it does,
actually), but because oysters are used in the brewing process. This results in
a certain je-ne-sais-quoi complexity in the flavor. This one's a little tougher to find, but you can order it .
Murphy's also makes a great St.-Paddy's-Day-worthy
stout. With a lighter consistency than Guinness, Murphy's stout is perfect for
those seeking the deep, roasted flavor of stout without the heavy,
If you're not a fan of stout, or even beer,
try Magner's hard cider. I love this refreshing, not-too-sweet bubbly drink
served over ice (just like the Irish do!). If you've never had hard, aka
alcoholic, cider or only had the syrupy sweet ones, try this traditional,
European-style one. It's dry, smooth, and utterly delicious.
And if none of those drinks tickle your
fancy, give this tasty whiskey cocktail a try! While ginger ale makes a fine
substitute, the zingy spice of real ginger beer is hard to beat.
(for 1 cocktail)
1 ½ oz. (1 shot) whiskey
4 oz. (1/2 c.) ginger beer
Squeeze of lemon wedge
Fill double old-fashioned glass with ice. Add
whiskey, ginger beer, and lemon; stir to combine.
Just remember, no matter what you grab a pint of this St.
Patrick's Day, make sure to drink responsibly. Slàinte!