As F&W drinks expert Oisin Davis discovers, it might be time to update the traditional Irish drinks menu. With exciting new spirits - and non-alcoholic drinks - becoming increasingly popular, cocktails are having quite the shake up.
I've always held high regard for those who never let their country's social norms or geographic location get in the way of their progress. Those lads who put together Jamaica's first bobsleigh team are a prime example, or anybody who's ever opened up a tiki bar in Alaska. As Ireland's drink brands gather steam internationally, it is primarily coming from within the sectors of beer, whiskey and gin. But there is a new crop of local mavericks rising up who have decided to take a different path with their products.
A Break From The Norm
When one thinks of the Emerald Isle and our glorious Irish made drinks, the chances are you would not associate the likes of rum, wine and a non-alcohol spirit with them. Yet I spoke with Irish producers of all three and each of them shared with me a cocktail recipe, just so that you may be offered an even better opportunity to get acquainted with their liquids. Unusually Irish cocktails is the theme for today, folks. Shaken or stirred in Ireland by Irish bartenders but featuring products that are a welcome break from the norm.
Mint! From Cask Bar In Cork, Featuring Black's Spiced Rum
Ever the champions of absolutely anything that hails from their home county, the good folk over in Cask on MacCurtain Street in Cork have shared with us a rather whopper recipe for a cocktail made with Black's Spiced Rum. It's from Black's Distillery in Kinsale and is comprised of distilled Guatemalan sugar cane molasses that is aged in virgin oak casks for up to three years. Brand Ambassador Darren Murphy described it to me as, "having a sweet vanilla, coffee and cola nose with hazelnut, sherry and chipotle on the palette." Considering the many centuries that Ireland has been distilling all kinds of everything, this is the very first Irish rum. A spirit that is gathering huge momentum globally, it would be great to see more from our own in on it!
20 mls Blacks Spiced Rum
20 mls Bacardi 4 year infused with Pineapple Weed
5 mls Chartreuse
Small scoop water mint sorbet
2 dashes of Off the Cuffe citrus bitters
Shake all ingredients except the sorbet, decanter into small bottle. Pour over the sorbet and serve with a teaspoon.
Oxmantown Cocktail From Bar 1661, Green Street, Dublin Green Street, Dublin
Not all wines need to be made in hotter countries or even with grapes. Fruit wines offer up delicious alternatives and are now being cultivated in the garden of Ireland. The Móinéir brand from Wicklow Way Wines utilise all Irish fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Founded in 2016 by husband and wife team Pamela Walsh and Brett Stephenson, they were inspired by a life of travel to try and create wines with native Irish fruits. All of their releases have proven to be very popular with bartenders. The crew over Lobstar in Monkstown like to mix Móinéir strawberry wine with prosecco while Gillian Boyle from the newly opened Bar 1661 on Green Street uses their blackberry wine for her Oxmantown cocktail to give it a rich tannin and aroma. They've recently opened up their winery to give tours, should you be Wicklow bound any time soon and with a designated driver.
20 ml Móinéir Blackberry Wine
10 ml Mad March Hare Poitín
10 ml Kinsale Mead
5 Kilhoura Apple Ice wine
A pinch of Achill sea salt
Chill a coupe glass with some ice. Pour all ingredients in a shaker with some ice, stir for 10 seconds. Remove ice from glass and strain. Garnish with an olive.
Silk Tree Espresso Martini from House, Dublin
Delving even deeper into unexplored territory, we have Silk Tree, Ireland's first non-alcoholic spirit. Thanks to the likes of Seedlip and Heineken 00, the non-alcohol category has exploded in the last couple of years. It's fantastic to see that an Irish company was quick to notice this trend and pounce on it with a product that ticks all the flavour boxes and uses Irish botanicals such as lemon verbena. Launched last year by owners Andrew Oates and Tracey Cassidy, its inception came about from their own desire to change their drinking habits whilst still wanting to enjoy a tasty beverage. Within the bars, Silk Tree tends to be served with tonic water but some bartenders have embraced it in their cocktails. None more so than Ken Herlihy from House on Leeson Street. He's nailed a very sober version of the classic, Espresso Martini. Grab one next time you need a booze-free pep in your step.
50 ml Silk Tree
40 ml espresso
15 ml agave syrup
Chocolate flakes to garnish
Chill a martini or coupe glass with ice. Place all ingredients except the chocolate in an ice-filled shaker. Seal and shake for 10 seconds. Remove ice from the glass and pour. Garnish.
Author: Oisin Davis
Oisin 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 that Oisin has joined our contributing team with his column "Great Irish Drinks."