Celebrate St. Patrick's Day Right With These Drinks

With St. Patrick's Day not too far away, I asked Duc to kindly put his alcohol knowledge to (e)paper in a compilation of ways to enjoy the holiday. Below are his informative and detailed suggestions on how best to celebrate. I am all for his recommendations - hope you are too!

As I was enjoying my Armagnac after the recent rains, I was thinking about how St Patrick's Day is not about wine. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland as well as celebrates the heritage and culture of the country in general. So, with Lent restrictions lifted for the one day, people might celebrate by eating too much and drinking a lot of alcohol.

You probably think of it, though, in terms of green beer, green everything else, and drunken college kids. You'd be right about 80% of the time but one can still celebrate Saint Patrick's Day with class with some authentic Irish whiskey.

Chances are that your introduction to Irish whiskey was similar to your initial taste of tequila: through a shot glass. That's the worst way to first consume anything. Truth is, Irish whiskey deserves a lot more respect than it receives from the amateur drinking set. The best of them can hold their own against your favorite bourbons and Scotches. The world of Irish whiskey is a difficult one to crack, with many of the best varieties unavailable outside of Ireland. Let's start with some definition and back story.

Irish whiskey must be distilled and aged on the island of Ireland for at least three years in wooden casks (although most distilleries age it for much, much longer). Most Irish whiskey is distilled three times while most (but not all) Scotch whiskeys are distilled twice. Peat is rarely used in the malting process so that Irish whiskey has a smoother finish as opposed to the smoky, earthy overtones common to some Scotches.

Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world but a long period of decline from the late 19th century onward greatly damaged the industry. Although Scotland sustains approximately 105 distilleries, Ireland has only seven in current operation – only four of which have been operating long enough to have products sufficiently aged for sale on the market as of 2013. Only one has been in operation since before 1975. Irish whiskey has seen a great resurgence in popularity since the late twentieth century and has been the fastest growing spirit in the world every year since 1990. The current growth rate is at roughly 20% per annum, prompting the construction and expansion of a number of distilleries.

How to enjoy whiskey (from my enthusiast's point of view)
I would be drinking it straight in a lowball glass, maybe with a drop or two of water to release the aromas. If I had to ease into it as a newcomer, a little ice could be added. Ultimately though, I want to appreciate it the way it was meant to be appreciated instead of diluting it with soda or making a cocktail out of it.

Personal choice: Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Port Cask Finish
Aged in American oak before being finished in Port wood, this Tyrconnell offers a great balance with a lot of jammy thickness for the palate. The nose is fruity and thick with notes of roots, tropical fruits, and a green character. There is a hint of sweetness with notes of barley sugar and malt. The finish is sweet and long with marmalade and a little oak.

Quick notes:
If you're not a distilled spirits person, Irish stout or dry stout (in Irish, leann dubh, "black beer") could work. It is typically very dark or rich in color and often has a "roasted" or coffee-like taste. The most famous example is Guinness, followed by Murphy's and Beamish. There are also some smaller breweries producing Irish stout. The alcoholic content and "dry" flavor of a dry/Irish stout are both characterized as light, although it varies from country to country.

Irish Car Bomb
It is made with Irish stout, Irish cream, and Irish whiskey. This Irish Car Bomb was invented in 1979 by owner Charles Oat at Wilson's Saloon in Norwich, Connecticut. The "Irish" in the name refers to the drink's Irish ingredients - typically Guinness stout, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Jameson Irish Whiskey. The "car bomb" refers to the drink being a "bomb shot", similar to a Canadian car bomb or a California car bomb. It is often confused as a reference to the many car bombings that took place during the Troubles in Ireland. For this reason, the name is sometimes deemed offensive and some bartenders refuse to serve it. The drink is popular in the United States; however, it is virtually unknown in Ireland and ordering it there is likely to cause confusion or offense.

Overall, I suggest doing a neat Irish whiskey or an Irish stout and just enjoy.

Maybe you'd like your stout in an ice cream float - recipe here.

Ðuc is a photographer based in Orange County whose work is in the wedding industry, portraiture, events, and food. He contributes a majority of the recent images on Much Ado About Fooding and plans to lend his expertise on alcohol and home gardening as guest posts. You can find his work at www.duc-duong.com.