The Irish tavern, The Dead Rabbit, has been named the world’s best bar at a premier cocktail event, Tales of the Cocktail, in New Orleans. Not only is it the world’s best bar but it also has the world’s best cocktail menu. Cheers to that!
The bar, located downtown, on Water Street, in Manhattan, is run by Belfast bar men Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry. The style of the award-winning spot is “the golden age of American drinking” and their list of accolades would suggest they’ve made achieved their goal.
Dead Rabbit opened in 2013 after the they meticulously researched 19th century cocktail recipes. Cocktails like the Scarlet Lady and Gold Digger allow customers to travel back in time with their delicious tipples.
The bar is divided into two spaces, one the informal pub, on the ground floor, that serves craft beer, bottled punch and whiskey and then there’s the Parlor where the story of 19th century clergyman and reformer Lewis Pease through a narrative of 64 different cocktails.
Their meticulous 66-page bible of original drinks, which is only reviewed annually, is illustrated the story of Pease’s life.
Pease was a determined Methodist clergyman and temperance reformer who, in 1850, established the Five Points Mission, which provided religious teachings and work for the area’s mostly working class Irish Catholics.
Sean Muldoon, co-owner and general manager of the Dead Rabbit, told IrishCentral where the idea to call the bar after a gang from Five Points came from.
He explained “The idea was to bring Irish pub culture together with high end cocktail culture in a way that made sense. I had to bring together an Irish idea with a cocktail idea, so I thought about New York in the 1840s and 50s.
“I knew a million Irish immigrants had arrived to New York from famine torn Ireland in the between 1845-1851, and I knew that Jerry Thomas wrote the first ever published cocktail guide in New York in 1862. So I knew from the outset that something was happening here in that time period that brought both traditions together.
“During my research about the era I read about the gangs of New York, the Dead Rabbits and their one-time leader John Morrissey.
“Morrissey came from Ireland at the age of two with his parents in 1832 and was raised in Troy, upstate New York. He came to New York City at the age of 18 and got involved in a lot of gangland activity. He went to San Francisco to pan for gold in 1849, but instead got involved in gambling and opened a string of Faro houses. He was a prizefighter and became world heavyweight boxing champion in 1853 after defeating Yankee Sullivan in a bout that lasted 37 rounds.
“He came back to New York in 1854 and challenged all his old gangster friends. In February 1855 he got into a fight with William ‘Bill the Butcher’ Poole, which resulted in Poole's death. In 1857 he led his gang, the Dead Rabbits, to victory in what became known as the Battle of Paradise Square, and in doing so became king of the Five Points.”
IrishCentral was also lucky enough to get a cocktail recipe straight from the horse’s mouth, or in this case Jack McGarry, earlier this year, for St. Patrick’s Day.
He provided us with the original 1940s Foynes Airport Irish coffee recipe. The much-loved drink was invented by airport chef Joseph Sheridan in 1942 to welcome Americans visiting Ireland. The travelers arrived in the west of Ireland on a cold winter night, so Sheridan added whiskey to their coffee to warm them up, telling the Americans they were being served Irish coffee.
McGarry’s twist to the original recipe is an addition of grated nutmeg and the use of Clontarf 1014 Blended Irish Whiskey
The Best Irish Coffee
1 ½ oz. Clontarf 1014 Irish Whiskey
¾ oz. Demerara syrup (made with 1 part water to 1 part Demerara sugar)
4 oz. freshly brewed coffee
Cream: whisk 2 oz. of Brady’s Irish Cream with 6 oz. of heavy cream
Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
Fill an Irish coffee glass or mug with hot water and let stand for a few minutes to warm. Pour out water. Add the whiskey, syrup and coffee, then stir. Add whipped Brady’s the width of your thumb. Freshly grate nutmeg over the top.