If Mardi Gras in New Orleans is our warm-up, St. Patrick's Day is America's official spring wake-up call. Time to shake off the winter hibernation and join together for a parade or a round or three. Even in a year as un-festive as this, Chicago surprised its residents by dying the river green after pledging it would skip the citywide party this year. St. Patrick's Day has become its own mini-season, especially when it falls mid-week, too, stretching into the weekend before March 17 to maximize bar tabs. For a day, or four, everyone is "Irish" and nobody is sober.
It's fun until it isn't.
For all the wild possibility spring unleashes, drink options for a chill St. Patrick's Day still feel oddly limited. There's always beer, sure — Guinness is fine if you're avoiding green-tinged lagers — or perhaps a wacky-themed cocktail, likely an Irish cream-infused liquid dessert that might as well have Lucky Charms floating on top. (Note to self: Experiment with cereal-inspired cocktails.) Is that all there is?
Why is a grown-up St. Patrick's Day toast so hard to imagine? Celebrating this holiday as an American adult shouldn't have to be a choice between an obnoxious public event or a demented solo living room reading of "The Lieutenant of Inishmore." (Play the Pogues, hide the cat.) Here's to making a round of cocktails for the adults in your household — or informal outdoor neighborhood gathering — for an elevated St. Patrick's Day that can be both festive and free of suffering, especially on the taste and hangover fronts.
When I drink Irish whiskey, I drink Jameson, obnoxious as the apocryphal Irish-American sectarian whiskey divide might be. (Call it the McNulty Rule, if you're a fan of "The Wire.") But my personal repertoire of Irish whiskey cocktails is slim, so I called upon a Jameson expert — Pernod mixologist Jane Danger — to help out. She suggests this recipe for a Jameson Irish Mule, a "simple twist on the Moscow Mule" — only five ingredients, plus ice — "that will be sure to elevate this year's casual St. Patrick's Day."
"The bold flavor of the ginger beer perfectly complements the complex flavors found in Jameson Irish Whiskey," Danger explains. "The balance of spicy, nutty and vanilla notes in Jameson Original are heightened with hints of sweet sherry and exceptional smoothness. The lime cuts the sweetness and adds a finishing touch of citrus to bring out the fresh Granny Smith apple notes."
Serving size: scales up or down
- 1.5 parts Jameson Irish Whiskey
- 0.25 parts Lime Juice
- 0.25 parts Ginger Syrup (see below)
- 3.25 parts Ginger beer
- Wedge of lime
- Cracked or crushed ice for serving
A note on ginger beer brands: I like Bundaberg and Fever Tree, but try Q if you're looking for less sugar, especially with the addition of the ginger syrup.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 lb. ginger root, peeled and sliced thin
Bring all ingredients to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the ginger, set aside and allow syrup to come to room temperature or chill before using.
You don't need any specialty equipment to mix a simple cocktail. Improvise with what you have; take a hammer to a baggie of ice if you want. But here's what I keep at hand:
- Copper mule cup
- Cocktail shaker
- Jigger or measuring device (a standard shot glass holds 1.5 oz, if you're eyeballing it)
- Handheld citrus press
- Hand-crank countertop ice crusher (If you're willing to scout, vintage Ice-O-Mats are stylish and virtually indestructible; I see the white model I use on resale sites all the time.)
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the Jameson, lime juice (fresh squeezed is best) and ginger syrup. Shake and strain into a copper mule mug over cracked ice. Top with ginger beer and a lime wedge for a flourish of green.
The Mule, of course, is a versatile beast. Make it standard with vodka for a Moscow Mule; swap in an añejo rum or a spicy bourbon; even gin can get in on the Mule game. If you just want to make your Irish Mule a little fancier, Danger tells us, "this drink is so easy to change up and make your own with fresh herbs or fruit garnishes."
More Oracle Pour:
- How to make a classic daiquiri — all you need are three simple ingredients
- How to make a Gold Rush, a bourbon cocktail that's reminiscent of the classics
- How to make a Sazerac, a New Orleans cocktail with a sweet and spicy bite
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