In this first part of a two-part Christmas special, FOOD&WINE.ie's great Irish drinks expert has collected two stunning seasonal cocktails from home and abroad.
The gastronomic alchemy of taking random spirits and mixing them into cocktails used to be something that we Irish had to largely venture abroad for in order to discover and enjoy their delights. It took its time, but the cocktail culture has truly arrived on the Emerald Isle. Tiny local pubs will often have their own take on a classic whiskey sour and with the huge success of Irish spirits being distributed all around the world, some of the finest bars on the planet are proudly pouring our native products into stellar, beautifully-crafted cocktails.
Seeking out these gorgeous beverages is a labor of love and occasionally an occupational hazard for me. So I thought I'd share a couple of fine examples of seasonal cocktails made with Irish spirits, featuring a bar from home and a bar from abroad. Recipes are included for those of you who are in the trade or who might happen to be amateur enthusiasts. But my thinking here is more leaning towards highlighting and recommending these fine establishments, should you be within their vicinity. I can be annoyingly discerning with where I choose to drink. My endorsement for a watering hole does not come easily, unless, of course, someone else is buying...
The Northman Bar, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Cocktail: "Liquid Thanksgiving"
Created by: General Manager, Ambrosia Borowski
Made with: Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin
Neighborhood bars are an integral part of American life. While the people from these areas might come and go, it's essential that the bars stay the same and always offer up the same friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere that local institutions should always provide. That's what makes The Northman in Chicago so unique because it's a neighborhood bar that also happens to be the Windy City's first cider bar. As if that weren't enough, they are rather adept at cocktails.
At the helm of The Northman, is general manager Ambrosia Borowski and she's a big fan of Glendalough Distillery's Wild Botanical Gin. She feels it pairs beautifully with autumnal and winter flavors, the kinds that go wonderfully with cider. The cocktail here that she has kindly shared with us is best enjoyed when served from a "porron" – a communal vessel that as Ambrosia says, "is used to share a bottle of wine without needing a glass and without sharing germs!"
100 ml Glendalough gin infused with cranberry
60 ml rosemary syrup
A pinch of cinnamon
Shake all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and strain into the Porron.
Add 470 ml Vander Mill Nunica Pine Cider and frozen cranberries to keep it cold.
The Dylan Bar, Kilkenny, Ireland
Cocktail: "Tom, Jerry & the Barons of John's Lane"
Created by: Head Bartender Chris Hennessy
Made with: Powers’ John's Lane
When licensed premises can boast that it has roaring fireplaces, cozy snugs and hundreds of whiskeys to choose from, the only way you can somehow make it any better, is to add a killer cocktail program into their mix. The Dylan Whisky Bar in Kilkenny have got all that down and their head bartender Chris Hennessy is one of the best in the country. It should come as no surprise that Chris has a big love for Irish single pot still whiskeys, with their creamy mouthfeel and subtle spice blends. Respecting the spirit and maximizing all its characters is what makes a great cocktail. He's really nailed that with this hot beauty made with the bold and full-bodied Powers John's Lane.
50ml Powers John's Lane Single Pot Still
2 tbsp spiced batter mix*
- Preheat your desired vessel. Add 50 ml of Powers' John's Lane.
- Stir in two heaped tablespoons of spiced batter mix.
- Add heated milk or alternatively boiling water, stirring for a smooth consistency.
- Garnish with a star anise and grated orange zest over top.
*Spice batter mix:
1 pint of quality vanilla ice cream
1 oz Quality dark rum (7-yr-old Havana Club)
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
½ tsp Ground clove
½ tsp Ground mace
½ tsp Ground allspice
Author: Oisin Davis
* Oisin Davis works on a global level as an Irish drinks evangelist and producer. He is the founder of nationwide drinks festivals that celebrate Irish spirits in the best bars and restaurant in the 32 counties and to top it off he is co-owner of Poacher's Premium Beverages, Ireland's only all-natural mixer company. F&W is delighted for Oisin to join our contributing team with his column Great Irish Drinks.
* Originally published on our sister publication, FOOD&WINE.ie.