A drink made with Irish whiskey? Perfect for St. Pat’s Day
If you’re looking for an alcoholic beverage to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you have plenty to choose from. In the US, Guinness stout and green beer are traditional favorites. Or maybe you’d prefer a shot of Irish whiskey with a beer chaser (green, of course). And there’s always Irish Coffee.
But this year, how about something different? The Brainstorm Cocktail is an Irish whiskey-fueled elixir, so it’s totally appropriate for the day. And its intriguing flavor will have people coming back for seconds.
If anybody asks how you came up with the idea for this drink, just smile modestly—and tell them it was a brainstorm.
Recipe: The Brainstorm Cocktail
A Brainstorm combines Irish whiskey with dry vermouth and Bénédictine liqueur. You can also find versions of this drink made with rye (or even bourbon), but we much prefer the Irish whiskey version.
This drink is most often served “up” in a cocktail glass. But David Wondrich suggests trying it over ice in a rocks glass as an after-dinner drink. We prefer it that way—particularly when we fill the glass with crushed or shaved ice and sip the drink from a straw.
We also like Wondrich’s recipe, so that’s what we use here (but see the Notes for possible variations).
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 2 ounces Irish whiskey (see Notes)
- 1½ to 2 teaspoons dry vermouth (aka French or white vermouth)
- 1½ to 2 teaspoons Bénédictine liqueur
- garnish of an orange peel or twist (optional; or substitute lemon—not traditional, but quite nice)
- Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice. Add all the ingredients (except garnish), and shake until well chilled (20 seconds will do it).
- Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that has been chilled. Or strain into a rocks glass filled with ice cubes or crushed ice. Add garnish if using (and add straws if using a rocks glass). Serve and enjoy.
- Technically, you should stir this drink rather than shake it because all the ingredients are clear. The rule says to stir clear ingredients because shaking introduces oxygen into the drink, making it somewhat cloudy. But we prefer to shake this one. So call the cocktail police.
- You may need to adjust the amounts of dry vermouth and Bénédictine to balance this drink to your taste. David Wondrich prefers 1½ teaspoons of each; we tend toward 2 teaspoons. Some people prefer to use more vermouth than Bénédictine (say ½ ounce dry vermouth, ¼ ounce Bénédictine).
- Irish whiskey was first made in the 12th century, which means it was among the earliest distilled drinks in Europe (Scotch, by contrast, wasn’t made until the late 15th century). Traditionally, Irish whiskey is made in a pot still (essentially a big vat) one batch at a time, and often is distilled three times for superior flavor.
- The two brands of Irish whiskey you’re likely to find at your grocery or liquor store are Jameson and Bushmills. Jameson is the most widely sold Irish whiskey in the world (it’s distilled in Cork, and vatted in Dublin). Bushmills is made in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Either works well in this drink.
- Bénédictine is an aromatic herbal liqueur. Based on the name, you might assume that it’s produced by Benedictine monks. In fact, it was invented in 1863 by Alexandre Le Grand, a French wine merchant and industrialist. Le Grand did, however, boost sales by claiming that monks at a Benedictine Abbey in Normandy had developed the beverage.
- As is the case with many cocktails, the origins of this drink are obscure. Most likely it was created by Hugo Ensslin, who was head bartender at New York’s Hotel Wallick. Ensslin, who wrote and self-published a guide called Recipes for Mixed Drinks around 1915, is also credited with creating the Aviation Cocktail.
- March 17th is the feast day of Saint Patrick, the best known of Ireland’s patron saints (the others are Saints Brigid and Columba). St. Patrick’s day is celebrated by people of Irish descent around the world. And by those of us who decide to become Irish, at least for the day.
“Interesting drink,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Which version do you prefer—up or on the rocks?”
“Definitely the rocky version,” I said. “Easy decision, in fact. I don’t need to rack my brains about it.”
“Yes, it’s a no-brainer,” said Mrs K R. “The rocks make a nice slow sipper out of this drink.”
“It would be easy to toss back too many of the up version,” I said. “And then you’d be brain dead.”
“Better stop before we get too addle-brained,” said Mrs K R.
Good call. Don't want to start our own private brain drain.
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