Carey Jones

As spirits go, Irish whiskey is amongst the most likable. Not as smoky as Scotch or spicy as rye, it has tons of character but drinks easily — awfully smooth going down. And happens to be great in cocktails. We’re using Jameson Black Barrel here, the distillery’s premium, robust bottling — but regular old Jameson will work well too, and it has the advantage of being available absolutely everywhere. So no matter where you are this holiday season, you can pick up a bottle. 

Easy: Pomegranate Cider

Pomegranate and fresh apple cider are such vibrant seasonal flavors, ones that happen to pair very well together — and with Irish whiskey. Shake this up and you’ve got a perfect pre-dinner, easy-drinking cocktail. 

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey, 1 1/2 ounces of pomegranate juice (POM works well and is available everywhere), 1 1/2 ounces of fresh cider, a 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice and 1/4 ounce simple syrup. Shake all that up until well-chilled and strain into a cocktail glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an apple slice. 

Intermediate: Hot Toddy

We love Irish whiskey in a hot toddy; warmed up, it’s smooth, comforting, and takes well to pairing with honey and warm spice. We love the pink peppercorn garnish here for a pop of color, but don’t worry if you don’t have it; the cinnamon, allspice, and lemon are really the key. 

Instructions: Pour 1 1/2 ounces of Irish whiskey into a heatproof glass. Stir in 1/4 ounce honey syrup (that’s honey cut with an equal part hot water), a dash of Angostura bitters, and 2 ounces of close-to-boiling water. Garnish with allspice berries, a cinnamon stick, a thin lemon wedge (squeezed into the drink), and a few crushed pink peppercorns if you have ‘em. 

Advanced: Cardamom Collins

Cardamom has a flavor like no other, and it emerges beautifully against a backdrop of smooth Irish whiskey, lemon, and soda. Smashing up a few pods gives this drink a powerful cardamom flavor with minimal effort. 

Instructions: Muddle 5 cardamom pods in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add  1 1/2 ounces of Irish whiskey, a 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice and 1/2 ounce simple syrup. Add ice and shake until well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of club soda and garnish with a thin lemon wheel and three cardamom pods.