Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Brainstorm Cocktail

The Brainstorm Cocktail

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.


The Brainstorm Cocktail

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.

Ingredients
  • 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)
Procedure
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice. Add all the ingredients (except garnish), and shake until well chilled (20 seconds will do it).
  2. 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.
The Brainstorm Cocktail

Notes
  • 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.
The Brainstorm Cocktail

Brainiacs

“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.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Irish Coffee
Aviation Cocktail
Income Tax Cocktail
Twentieth Century Cocktail
Airmail Cocktail
Whiskey Sour
Cocktail Basics
Or check out the index for more

114 comments:

~ Nee ~ said...

Hi john , this cocktail is also a keep and bet your dollar I will serve it at the St. Patrick's party . What a beautiful drink , almost to gorgeous to drink (giggling) who am I kidding , I will shut my eyes and sip it down . Hello to Mrs. K R and thanks for sharing :)

Debra Eliotseats said...

A couple of these and I would not be able to brain storm....just sayin'.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Nee, you'll like this -- loads of flavor. Happy sipping! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Debra, totally know what you mean! Couple of these and my brain is fried. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Nazneen Hamilton said...

Beautiful as always, John. Love the colour on this. I've never heard of Benedictine liqueur..when you say herbal...what does it taste like?
Educational as usual. I'm the most educated non drinker thanks to you!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Nazneen, Bénédictine is rather sweet with a bit of spice to it. It's a bit hard to describe the taste -- there are a lot of herb flavors going on -- but lavender is a fairly distinct flavor (but it doesn't overwhelm). I'm not a real fan of Bénédictine neat, but really like it in cocktails. Thanks for the comment.

Sue/the view from great island said...

I'm off to buy some Benedictine --- this sounds enticing!

Pat said...

That is a great looking cocktail....maybe I should do one for St. Pat's day :)

mjskitchen said...

You're right. The rocky version would definitely be the way to go with this. Without the ice, this one would go done really quickly. :) Love Bénédictine and B&B. Pinning this for my party weekend in Dallas. :) I'll now someone who will love sharing these with me.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Sue, it's a fun drink. Enjoy! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Pat, it'd definitely be a good choice. And if you don't like it, it's fun to look at. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi MJ, Bénédictine has lovely flavor, doesn't it? It works so well as a cocktail ingredient! And I like it with brandy (B&B) as an after dinner drink. Thanks for the comment.

Denise Browning@From Brazil To You said...

What a beautiful and delicious drink, ideal for St. Patrick's Day!

Lizzy (Good Things) said...

Oh wow... did I miss St Patrick's Day or is it in March? Cin cin.

~~louise~~ said...

Hi John,
Gosh, I haven't had Bénédictine or B&B in the house in years. I'm really liking this cocktail though. I'd go with on the rocks too. There's just something about clinking drinks that gets my brain a storming. It really has a fine looking color too. How cool would it be to list drinks by their color, lol...Don't ask me where that came from. Well, it may just be a brainstorm!

Thanks for sharing, John...

Abbe@This is How I Cook said...

We have Benedictine and I am always looking for ways to use it. This has given me a brainstorm! Thanks for that, because it was feeling pretty brain dead for awhile!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Denise, isn't it grand? And really a fun way to celebrate the holiday. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Lizzy, you've still got over a week to get in supplies. I just like to be prepared. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Louise, it'd be interesting to list drinks by their color -- there would be a whole lot of brown ones! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Abbe, I'm feeling pretty brainless most of the time. Glad to help you find a use for your Bénédictine. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Dottie said...

Hi John,
A great drink, I am sure...for St. Patty's day or anyday. Never had any of this drinks ingredients but have to try a sip. I love the name, Brainstorm Cocktail. I think it looks nicer in the small glass with the straws. Great post...I will have to share this one with some people that I think would love this drink...Oh and don't worry you can shake this cocktail, I will not call the cocktail police! Ha ha I thought that was funny! Thanks for sharing, have a great night!
Dottie :)

Karen Harris said...

I'm convinced. What a great cocktail for St. Patrick's Day! Beautiful photos as usual.

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Hi John, when I first saw the title of this post, I just could not wait to read yours and Mrs. K.R. conversation, I knew it was going to be a good one. Lovely drink!

GiGi Eats Celebrities said...

Brainstorm huh? Well, alcohol does make you come up with some VERY interesting ideas! ;)

Marcela said...

Oh! Great! Cocktail time! Gonna try this right away! Looks awesome!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Dottie, thanks for not calling the cocktail police on us. :-) This really is a fun drink -- hope you have a chance to try it sometime. Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Karen, anyone who likes Irish whiskey will really like this drink. And I like Irish whiskey. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Cheri, this was a fun post to write! And we left so many "brain" jokes on the cutting room floor. Maybe we'll be able to use them another time.;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi GiGi, yup, alcohol can result in a lot of ideas, can't it. Some of them good. Some of them. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Marcela, we love cocktail time around here. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Liz Berg said...

Another gorgeous cocktail! You make the best lemon twists!!

Dawn Yucuis said...

Sounds like a great for St. Patrick's Day! I think that I would prefer to drink it on the rock too.

Zoe said...

Hi John,

I like your brainy discussion with Mrs KR. I prefer to sip my drinks slowly too... This cocktail looks awesome! Happy St. Pat’s Day to you! Cheers!

Zoe

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

This cocktail looks absolutely lovely, I love the colour, like drinking gold :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Liz, isn't this pretty? And tasty. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Dawn, we much prefer it on the rocks. Which is how we'll drink it on St. Pat's Day. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Zoe, we always enjoy those brainy conversations. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Uru, it is like drinking gold! Tastier, though.;-) Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

We learn so much whenever we visit your adorable blog...thanks so much...this will make the best sip for a special day...And we can see those salted cashews have a purpose...they make the photo beautiful and will go really well with this drink...amazing food clicks and perfect recipes as always,thanks for inspiring :-)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Kumar, cashews go really well with this drink. Plus they're a nice treat for the photographer. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Sippity Sup said...

I like to keep a well stocked bar, but I always resist buying Bendectine (and Chartreuse for that matter) because of the price. However, this recipe reminds me that you only use a tiny teaspoon or two at a time, so a $45 bottle would last me a good long week (insert smiley face here). GREG

ray said...

A lot of these drinks and their history, I learned from you, John. Aside from being an attractive looking drink, I like the name -- Brainstorm. Thank you, John! :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Greg, you're so right that one doesn't really use much of liqueurs like Bénédictine (although some people do enjoy it as an after dinner drink), so a bottle lasts a long time. As you say, a week at least! :D And there are a number of cocktails that really require it. Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Ray, whoever named this drink definitely had a brain wave. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Carol at Wild Goose Tea said...

I am marching along in the St Paddy's Day parade behind this drink for two reasons. One,
brainstorming is a constant part of my life. Ideas bubble up when summoned or unbidden.
I really like that part of myself. But it's been a challenge not to shoot off in multiple directions at once. Secondly I love Benedictine. It is soooo mellow and has such a honeyed distinctive flavor.

Ansh said...

Something other than Irish Coffee at this time of the year is a big welcome change. And the Up version for me please!

Juliana said...

Nice and interesting cocktail...although it seems a little too strong for me...I will have to go really slow on this one.
Love the photos...hope you are having a great week John :)

Laura Dembowski said...

I think it's so hard coming up with St. Patrick's Day recipes, but this is a totally unique and exciting one!

Beth said...

A perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day! How do you keep coming up with so many interesting drinks?

Asha Shivakumar said...

That's another stunning cocktail. I would be knocked out with a couple. Everytime I visit your page, I'm seriously tempted to go buy everything to make a drink..you make it that interesting. Love the name.

Amira said...

Great photos as usual. I can feel it is a great drink .. for me I will stick to the McDonald's Shamrock Shake .... you know :)

Chris Scheuer said...

How fun, I love the name. I think I like the way it looks better on the rocks too.

Hotly Spiced said...

The cocktail is very pretty. Do you get Japanese whiskeys in the US? I'm sure you do but I heard the very best whiskey in the world is now coming out of Japan! Maybe that's just someone's opinion or clever marketing on the part of the Japanese. As for me, I struggle with whiskey however my husband is a huge fan xx

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Carol, this should be the drink for all brainstormers! ;-) And I agree Bénédictine has such an interesting taste -- adds such a nice subtle note to this drink. Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Ansh, one "up" coming up! That is the prettier of the two versions, IMO. Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Juliana, you'd definitely want this drink over ice (preferably crushed ice) to help dilute it. Still good flavor, just not as strong. Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Laura, this is a fun St. Pat's drink, isn't it? And something a bit different. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Beth, I have more than 1 cocktail book in my library to give me ideas. :-) And it's fun searching out new drinks (new to me, at least). Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Asha, cocktails really are interesting -- so many have fascinating histories. And they're pretty! Not to mention they taste awfully good. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Amira, I do know why you'll be sticking to the Shamrock Shake. ;-) But it's still fun to read about drinks! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Chris, this is a great looking drink whether up or on the rocks, IMO. I actually prefer the looks of the up version a bit more, but definitely prefer drinking the rocky version. Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Charlie, we probably do get some of the Japanese whiskeys in the US, although I haven't sought them out. I believe what they produce is similar to Scotch -- which I rarely drink. Rye and bourbon are the forms of whiskey I prefer, then Irish, then Scotch. And I could well be wrong, but I don't believe anyone in Japan is making rye or bourbon. But I definitely need to check on that and find out! Thanks for the comment.

Food Gal said...

You had me at the name. I'm wondering if it will make me smarter, especially with so many deadlines looming. LOL Hey, it's worth a try -- or sip, right? ;)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Carolyn, isn't the name great? And I'm sure a sip would help! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Caroline Taylor said...

Love it in the crystal tumbler. Sounds like the perfect cocktail for the weekend!

Runnin SriLankan said...

Haha - but seriously how much "brain draining" can happen in the middle of a "brainstorm" eh? ;)
The conversations at the end between you and Mrs KR - leave me guffawing! And I also managed to learn the different results of shaking and stirring!

Pam said...

It looks and sounds really tasty & totally perfect for St. Patrick's Day!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Caroline, that crystal tumbler is pretty, isn't it? Makes anything look good! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Shashi, we're capable of any amount of brain draining. Even during a brainstorm. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Pam, it really is a nice drink for St. Pat's. Or any old time! Thanks for the comment.

Cathleen said...

Love the look of this cocktail! I did need ideas for St Patricks day!

Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes said...

I have a friend (or two) who would go crazy for this! Gotta love Irish whiskey!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Cathleen, isn't this a pretty drink? Tasty, too! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Ashley, Irish whiskey has a nice flavor, doesn't it? I love the stuff! Thanks for the comment.

Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen said...

I'll tell my husband about this drink! Perfect.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Peachy, I'll bet he'll really like this! Such a good flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Bam's Kitchen said...

Hi there John a very happy Irish day to you to a little early! I think on the rocks for me too! I love slow sippers. Great photo shots and hope you were able to get these beautiful ones in less than 40 shots! Got your message about photo taking and thanks for the information. I should really start shooting tethered. I know it would make a world of difference to my workflow around getting the shots. Are you shooting in the raw as well? I have not crossed that path yet and wondering if the bang is worth the buck for the size of the files. Maybe we should take these conversations off line or leave them if you think it may help other foodie bloggers... as I know we all admire your photography.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Bam, although I like "up" drinks a lot, this one really does cry out for rocks, IMO.I always shoot raw for food --so much easier to adjust white balance that way, and to adjust contrast and white/black points.It really makes a difference, although of course it's more work The file size doesn't bother me, but I have an older camera with files that are only 16 megapixels -- more than enough for what I'm doing! We can certainly take this conversation offline if you wish -- feel free to email me. Although it may be useful to others, as you suggest. Anyway, Thanks for the comment.

Raymund said...

Looks like I will have to look for that Bénédictine :)
Another great cocktail recipe!

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

Thanks for this since the thought of green beer makes me gag. Great photos John.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Raymund, you won't be sorry to get Bénédictine -- it's so nice in cocktails (and I've used it in several others). Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Lea Ann, I'm not really fond of green beer either. Thanks for the comment.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

I phoned the cocktail police and they thought I was crazy and they agreed with you.

I'd much prefer this cocktail than beer too.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Maureen, LOL! Those cocktail police can be something. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Brooks said...

I typically go for beer on the 17th, but this alluring cocktail piques my interest. Pinned this beverage for good measure. Cheers!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Brooks, it's hard to go wrong with beer on St. Pat's Day, but IMO this drink is even more appropriate. Irish whiskey has such nice flavor, don't you think? Thanks for the comment.

Fran @ G'day Souffle' said...

My daughter's birthday is on St Patrick's day- as she gets older, I feel older, too. Must have one of these cocktails to forget that I'm getting older!

Amy (Savory Moments) said...

Another terrific drink, John! This sounds like a perfect companion to our St. Patrick's Day meal!

Lux Ganzon said...

Well this sounds like a good time. :) Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Fran, happy early birthday to your daughter! ;-) And this is the perfect antidote to aging! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Amy, it's a fun drink! And if you like Irish whiskey, it's got your name on it. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Lux, it is a good time! Thanks for the comment.

lisa is cooking said...

This sounds like a much better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day than with green beer! I think I'd go with the rocks version too.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Lisa, yup, this definitely beats green beer. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Anne@FromMySweetHeart.com said...

I always love your cocktails, John. (especially the way you photograph them, I struggle with photographing cocktails!). But this one is really interesting. I feel like I must have had benedictine before, but can't quite place the flavor. But that alone has me wanting to try this! Thanks for sharing it! : )

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Anne, cocktails are fun to photograph (they're so pretty!), but trying to control reflections and stray light can be a real pain at times. This really is a good one -- worth a try if you get a chance. Thanks for the comment.

Tricia Buice said...

Wow I am such a fan of all things Irish - so this speaks to me! Recently visited the Jameson Distillery in Ireland - great tour - great drink - thank you!

dedy oktavianus said...

Simply damn refreshing shoots cocktail!!!
Dedy@Dentist Chef

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Tricia, must have been fun to tour the Jameson distillery. Lucky you! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Dedy, isn't this a great cocktail? Thanks for the kind comment.

Daniela Grimburg said...

What a brainstorm , love this inspiring drink and the story behind it.
Ah, and before I forget- the picture with the St. Pats napkin and the nuts looks so beautiful and inviting - cheers to the Photographer!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Daniela, isn't this an interesting drink? Awfully good flavor! Thanks for those very kind words, and for commenting.

Gourmet Getaways said...

Excellent idea, we'd love this with shaved ice, too! Irish for a day is great with this drink! Cheers!!

Julie & Alesah
Gourmet Getaways xx

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Julie & Alesah, shaved ice is definitely the way to go, IMO. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kristi @ MySFKitchen said...

What a fun St Patty's drink! Looks delicious!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Kristi, this is definitely a bit different. And more than a bit good. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

thelady8home said...

Beautiful looking drink, looks so much fun! Great Patrick Day's drink. I adore your drink photographs.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Minnie, isn't this a nice drink? Really terrific flavors. ;-) Thanks for that very kind comment.

Marcela said...

Amazing drinks! I wish to taste all of them!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Marcela, me too! Oh, wait, I already have. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

I know I'm late to the party but glad I finally made it! This sounds so interesting and I think if I wade through my cache I actually have some Bénédictine too so it's on the docket to try. Still; what I have to comment on is Bullet Number One. Yes,, the cocktail police; they find me occasionally and well, take me to jail but yes I do put vodka in a martini and guilty as charged; if it's in a martini glass I might refer to it as a martini even if there is fruit. Don't we have bigger issues to deal with? Like finding the Bénédictine! :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Barb, the cocktail police are everywhere, aren't they? :-) But as long as something in a glass tastes good, I don't really care what ingredients they use, or what they call it! This really is a fun drink -- worth a try. Thanks for the comment.

Amanda@ChewTown said...

"just smile modestly - and tell them it was a brainstorm" Love it! Such a unique cocktail for St Pat's day.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Amanda, ;-) This really is a nice drink -- lovely flavor. Thanks for the comment.