If green beer lacks the class you’re seeking in a St. Patrick’s Day beverage, consider a cocktail made with Irish whiskey. The spirit’s signature smoothness comes from a tradition of triple distillation—much of the world’s whiskey is distilled only twice. The extra step removes impurities but can also rob the beverage of complexity and character, which is why Scotch and bourbon fans sometimes snub it.
“They call it breakfast whiskey,” laughs Bill Thomas, co-owner of Jack Rose Dining Saloon in DC’s Adams Morgan. But Thomas stocks some Irish whiskeys that he says will satisfy complexity seekers, including the $65-an-ounce Knappogue Castle 1951 and several brands made at the Cooley distillery on Ireland’s east coast.
When experimenting with Irish whiskey in cocktails, Jack Rose beverage director Rachel Sergi recommends a less pricey product such as Powers Gold Label (about $19 for 750 milliliters at Calvert Woodley Wine & Spirits), which she describes as “caramely with some spice but not too sweet.” She uses it in her own version of the Tipperary—Irish whiskey, green Chartreuse, and sweet vermouth—named for the town in southern Ireland. The Chartreuse lends it a greenish cast, making the drink perfect for Saint Patrick’s Day. Sergi’s recipe—which calls for equal parts of the three ingredients—is virtually foolproof, which should help any St. Paddy’s soiree go smoothly.
1 ounce Irish whiskey
1 ounce green Chartreuse
1 ounce sweet vermouth (Sergi suggests Martini & Rossi or Dolin Rouge)
1 mint leaf for garnish (optional)
Pour the whiskey, Chartreuse, and vermouth into a pint glass, then add ice cubes until it’s about two-thirds full. Gripping a bar spoon as you would a chopstick, stir ingredients about 50 times, keeping the back of the spoon against the inside of the glass as much as possible. Strain ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass. Add mint leaf if desired.
This article appears in the March 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.