The Gourmet Highway: Those Smiling Irish Eyes

After visits to Ireland, I changed. The daily grind at home was more bearable. Reading became a preferred discipline and the live stage remains far more appealing than a movie. Those great books of literature, plays and poetry took on new prominence. Joyce, Yeats, Shaw, Wilde and Heaney became part of ordinary conversation.

Smiles and Cocktails in Belfast (Tourism Ireland)

And, there was that bottle of Jameson, the ancient Irish whiskey, nearby when I needed it-usually around 5 in the afternoon. You haven’t really lived until you enjoy Irish Whiskey with The Boys of the Lough playing and singing.

Ireland has contributed mightily to my hometown. In 1864, Atlanta’s churches and its synagogue were spared from Sherman’s torch when Father Thomas O’Reilly, a native of County Cork, backed the general down in a face-to-face confrontation. The good-hearted priest is honored by local Hibernians each St. Patrick’s Day.

Scarlett O’Hara,  is Atlanta’s most revered Irish-American. Emory University is headquarters of the W. B. Yeats Foundation, the brainchild of Professor Emeritus James Flannery, whose intellect and lovely tenor voice has elevated Irish culture to even more prominence.

Getting that Irish Spirit. (Tourism Ireland)

Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist says that the world is flat, that is we are increasingly closer than imagined and that change, a by-product of the free-sharing of ideas, is a healthy exercise. Dublin in the early evening isn’t very different than most large American cities. Dining is exciting and many diverse cuisines are at your fingertips. Cocktails tend to be very American: Martini’s, Margarita’s, Manhattan’s abound. The barware  is familiar and the bar inventory of distilled spirits will have classics like Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.

Uisce Beatha, “Water of Life,” whatever you want to call it, is a heritage statement that means Ireland is the birthplace of Whiskey. Dubliners will tell you the extra “e” was added to preserve authenticity. Along with other Celtic kin, the Irish brought their distilling skills to America and now honor cultural connections in novel ways. Take, for example, Jones 1778 Navy Strength Irish Gin. It is named after John Paul Jones, the naval commander hero from the Revolutionary War,  who confronted British forces in Belfast Lough. Jones, the founder of the US Navy, sailed to Carrickfergus in his ship ‘Ranger’ to ambush HMS Drake in April 1778. Fearlessly, Jones continued to raid British ports in the Irish Sea, an ambitious strategy for an emerging naval commander. The distilled spirit honors his courage.

Jones 1778 honors an American Naval Hero.

Amelia Earhart, the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic, intended to fly to Paris. 15 hours after leaving Newfoundland, she landed in Derry, Northern Ireland. Now, she embodies the spirit of Earhart Gin. From sourcing wild botanicals from the meadow where she landed her plane to using the colors of her airplane named ‘Little Red Bus’, Derry City’s first gin celebrates this American icon.

Writing about cocktails and the noble spirits that fuel them is almost as much fun as enjoying them. That being said, let’s share some recipes that have blend Old World traditions with New World flair. Inspired and crafted by an assemblage of bartenders, distillers and bon vivants. Drink them with others and behold the increased friendliness and appearance of smiling eyes.

The Dockeroo (Irish American)

“The Dockeroo,” an Irish-American Cocktail

2 oz. Jameson Irish Whiskey

1/2 oz. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey

5 drops Peychaud’s Bitters

Pour over large ice cube in oversize Old Fashioned glass

Cover with Reed’s Real Ginger Ale

Stir gently

Garnish with curled burnt orange peel

Gaelic Grasshopper

A wonderful variation of The Grasshopper. (Tourism Ireland)

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur

1 oz Teeling Irish whiskey

.5 oz Creme de Cacao

.5 oz Brancamenta

Instructions

Shake lightly and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with mint and shaved chocolate.

Irish Whiskey Maid

Irish Maid-Delicious and Relaxing. (Tourism Ireland)

Ingredients:

2 oz Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey

1 oz fresh lime juice

.75 oz simple syrup

3 slices Japanese cucumber, muddled

2 fresh mint leaves and cucumber slice for garnish

Instructions

In a shaker glass, combine whiskey, lime juice, simple syrup and cucumbers and muddle together. Add ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain into a rocks glass over a large ice block. Garnish with fresh cucumber and mint sprig through the middle.

Cocktails are even better when enjoyed with friends. (Tourism Ireland)

Irish Negroni

Ingredients:

1 part Red Bush Irish Whiskey

1 part herbal aperitif (such as Campari)

1 part sweet red vermouth

Orange peel

Instructions

Combine ingredients in a rocks glass. Add ice and stir until combined.

Pot O’Gold

Pot ‘O Gold Cocktail (Tourism Ireland)

Ingredients:

.75 oz Chartreuse

.75 oz Grand Marnier

Splash of Fever Tree Tonic Water

Edible gold flakes and microgreen

Instructions

Combine ingredients and mixing glass with ice and stir. Top with splash of tonic water and garnish with gold flakes and microgreen.

Irish Old Fashioned

Ingredients:

.25 oz honey syrup (2 parts honey, 1 part water)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

2 oz Redbreast Irish Whiskey

Garnish with a swath of lemon

Instructions

Combine all ingredients. Add ice and stir until cocktail is chilled and properly diluted. Strain over ice into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a swath of lemon.

Shamrocked

The appropriately named Shamrocked. (Tourism Ireland)

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Midori Liqueur

1 oz. Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

.5 oz Irish Crème

Instructions

Shake and strain over ice into a double old fashioned glass. Top with homemade whipped cream and fresh mint garnish.

Old school journalism describes the style and stories produced by Doc Lawrence. “In everything I do,” he says, “there is a beginning, middle and an end.” One of the top travel writers in the country, Doc is steeped in the heritage of the deep south. Traveling the back roads from Texas to Virginia and on down to Key West inspires stories about local food and wine preferences, community theater, folk art and music often leading to clues for a good story. Heroes include Faulkner, Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker and Willie Morris. An Atlanta native, Doc keeps a well-stocked wine cellar and bar and two outdoor grills. He enjoys entertaining and believes that the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep searching for a higher life. www.thegourmethighway.com | doclawrence@mindspring.com

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