Mr. Brownstone © Carissa O'Connor
Approachable Irish whiskey is often served straight, but the smooth, lightly spicy spirit is also delicious in cocktails. “It tastes like butterscotch and toffee,” says Erick Castro, bartender at San Diego's new soda shop-style bar Polite Provisions. “I have a lot of friends who aren’t cocktail drinkers, but they’ll take a shot of Jameson without hesitation.” Castro loves to mix it in cocktails like Mr. Brownstone, a fizzy drink that combines Jameson, housemade cinnamon syrup and Angostura bitters and is charged overnight with CO2 then served on draft. The result is a lightly boozy, caramel-tinged cocktail served on the rocks with a star anise garnish. Here, more cocktails that highlight easy-drinking Irish whiskey.
Fifth Floor, San Francisco
Bar manager Brian Means created a selection of Irish whiskey cocktails specifically for St. Patrick’s Day. The most original is the Little Banshee, made with Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, bitter Cocchi Americano, fresh lemon juice and anise-tinged Herbsaint. The ingredients are stirred with ice then strained into a coupe for a vibrant, springy cocktail.
Ella Dining Room & Bar, Sacramento
Just steps from the Capitol building, the airy restaurant blends Irish whiskey and Scotch in the Usual Suspect cocktail. Bartenders rinse an Old Fashioned glass with peaty Ardberg 10 year Scotch, then strain in a stirred mix of Jameson, Averna amaro, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and Angostura bitters.
Down House, Houston
This bar’s St. Patrick’s Eggnog tastes nothing like the thick, pudding-like Christmastime beverage. Co-owner Chris Cusack describes it as being more like a “creamy apple soda.” He shakes one whole egg with a locally produced dry hard cider, Powers Gold Label whiskey and a touch of simple syrup. The drink is strained into a tall glass and garnished with nutmeg.
The Penrose, New York
The Upper East Side Irish gastropub serves an off-the-menu take on a Blood and Sand cocktail (usually blended with Scotch). The Saint Anne’s Remedy is made with Bushmill’s, orange juice, Cherry Heering, fresh lemon juice and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. The rich and sweet cocktail is shaken and served up in a coupe that has been rinsed with smoky single malt Lagavullin.