Two Days of Heritage
Of course, everyone in America and around the world has at least a nodding acquaintance with St. Patrick’s Day. But here in a city positively addicted to celebration, we seem to be alone in the additional acknowledgement of St. Joseph’s Day.
It was bad enough that America had to shame Ireland into celebrating the day of the Emerald Isle’s patron saint, but even the sizeable population of Italian heritage here cannot move the folks back in Italy to pay attention to St. Joseph, that country’s patron saint.
To be fair, it helps when you live in a place that is always open to a big celebration, a grand parade, special cuisines and maybe, just maybe, something fun to drink. I’m thinking that if it were just a matter of going to church and then reflecting on a life lived in okay fashion, none of these days would have any notoriety at all. If it were only the church and penance thing that mattered, Ash Wednesday would be bigger than the Fourth of July. That’s mixing Church and State, of course, which America shunned from the very beginning.
Anyway, as far as New Orleans is concerned, if St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day were not so close together, we would storm the Vatican to force the Church to achieve the outcome we currently enjoy. Thank goodness we don’t have to do that – look how that whole let’s-get-together-and-rescue-Napoleon-from-exile chapter turned out. Timely response is not a Crescent City trademark.
Celebrating a heritage, even if it is not quite a traceable direct line of ancestors, is a good thing. Really, there’s no harm in how many nationalities are in our DNA. We can actually claim to be whatever we want whenever we want. And, just to emphasize a point, particularly when there is celebration involved.
To assist you in the proper celebration of St Patrick’s Day, below are a few cocktails that are no more authentic than you are, but they are in the proper spirit and will put you in the mood for some fun, helping to fill the celebration desert between the end of Carnival and French Quarter Fest.
First, a bit of understanding might assist you in the enjoyment. Irish Whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world. It is a very smooth whiskey thanks to the quality of grain employed in its ingredient list and also is distilled three times. Scotch, as an example, is only distilled twice and relies on aging to soften up the difficult bits.
Irish Whiskey actually gave the world the word. In the language of the island, which was a blend of Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx, the word for the aqua vitae, “water of life,” was uisce, beatha, which was Anglicized to whiskey.
Irish Whiskey is great for a cocktail. Again, unlike Scotch, peat is not used in the making of Irish Whiskey. Peat has a smoky character and so Irish Whiskey is more basic, showing off its own roots rather than an added component.
Glad I brought that up. How about a cocktail or two using Irish Whiskey?
Cork County Bubbles
As created by mixologist John Coltharp and featuring Jameson, made in that storied place, Cork.
- 1 ounce Jameson’s Irish whiskey
- 1/4 ounce yellow Chartreuse
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey mixed with 1/2 teaspoon warm water
- 1 ounce chilled Champagne
- 1 lemon twist, preferably spiral-cut, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the Champagne and garnish and shake well. Strain into a chilled flute, stir in the Champagne and garnish with the twist.
Old Irish Cure
Sean Muldoon swears by the truth of the Irish cure for a cold, which includes ginger, honey and lemon. We are not certain if the “old” reference is to the age of the recipe, the recipient, or the caregiver. No matter. For a hot toddy, simply add hot water to this cocktail.
- 1 1/3 ounces Irish whiskey, preferably Jameson
- 1/3 ounce dark rum
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Calvados
- 1/3 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 ounce cane syrup or Rich Simple Syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon honey mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Ginger Juice
- Dash of Angostura bitters
- 1 thin apple slice, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the apple slice garnish and shake well. Strain the drink into a chilled coupe and garnish with the apple slice.
Our buddy, Dave Wondrich, who loves New Orleans, mixes Irish Whiskey with gin to mimic a richer, older style gin.
Yields 18 drinks
- 3 ounces Rich Simple Syrup
- 12 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 4 ounces maraschino liqueur
- 1 1/2 liters chilled club soda
- Ice, preferably 1 large block
- 6 ounces Irish whiskey
- Strips of zest from 4 lemons
- One 1-liter bottle gin
In a punch bowl, muddle the lemon zest with the whiskey. Add the gin and let stand for 2 hours. Stir in the maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and Rich Simple Syrup and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Just before serving, stir in the club soda and add ice.
Sean Muldoon is particularly fond of this cocktail with fresh shellfish, including shrimp and crab.
- 2/3 ounce Irish whiskey, preferably Bushmills
- 2/3 ounce oloroso sherry
- 1/2 ounce Red Currant Syrup or grenadine
- 1/3 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cane syrup or Rich Simple Syrup
- 1 2/3 ounces chilled Champagne
- 1 small bunch of red currants, for garnish (optional)
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the Champagne and the garnish and shake well. Strain the drink into a large chilled coupe and top with the Champagne. Garnish with the red currants.
Many thanks to Food & Wine online for delightful and out of the ordinary cocktail recipes featuring Irish Whiskey.
I don’t mean to gloss over the possibilities presented by the heritage of our Italian friends but there are many more ingredients to be considered in their case and that means many more possible combinations which space here precludes them just now. We will make it up to our brethren from Italy, I promise.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Happy St. Joseph’s Day!
Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed at www.wgso.com.