Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Blackthorn Cocktail

The Blackthorn Cocktail

Made with Irish whiskey, this elixir is perfect for St. Pat’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up soon. So how about a drink?

We suggest the Blackthorn (sometimes spelled Blackthorne), which mixes Irish whiskey with sweet vermouth, absinthe, and bitters.

It’s bracing and tasty. And just right for getting your Irish on.



The Blackthorn Cocktail

Recipe: The Blackthorn Cocktail

The Blackthorn is an old cocktail, dating back to the 19th century. There actually are several versions of the drink, including some that contain gin or sloe gin. Our favorite is one that uses Irish whiskey.

An iteration of the Irish-whiskey version was included in The Savoy Cocktail Book, published during the 1930s. However, that version called for equal parts of whiskey and sweet vermouth – a rather unbalanced drink, in our opinion (the flavor of the whiskey tends to disappear).

We prefer a whiskey-forward formula, the version Gary Regan mixes in The Joy of Mixology. Essentially, this version is an Irish whiskey Manhattan Cocktail, but with absinthe added as a curveball.

This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.

Ingredients
  • 2 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (Italian red vermouth)
  • ¼ ounce absinthe or pastis (or to taste; see Notes)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (or to taste)
  • lemon twist for garnish (optional)
Procedure
  1. Add all ingredients (except garnish) to a mixing glass half-filled with ice. Stir until well-chilled (about 30 seconds).
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that’s been chilled). Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired, and serve.
The Blackthorn Cocktail

Notes
  • Why stir rather than shake this drink? Because the ingredients are clear. Shaking introduces air bubbles, which can make a drink cloudy. (That doesn’t matter when some of the ingredients are opaque – think citrus juice.)
  • But shake anyway if that’s your preference. We won’t tell, because we often do it ourselves.
  • A maraschino cherry is the traditional garnish for a Manhattan. We don’t think that works well in this drink, however, because of the absinthe (the flavors clash). A lemon twist is excellent, however.
  • Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit. For years, it was illegal in the US and much of Europe (one of its ingredients was thought to be psychoactive and addictive). As a substitute, people would use a “pastis” like Pernod, which did not contain the problematic ingredient. The flavor of pastis is very similar to absinthe, and we often use it.
  • BTW, “pastis” is just the generic French name for anise-flavored liqueur that resembles absinthe. It’s usually of quite good quality, and cheaper than absinthe.
  • Real absinthe is back on the market now, so you might prefer to use that. It tends to be rather pricey, though. Not to mention high proof (100+). 
  • Because absinthe (or pastis) has such a strong flavor, you may want to use a bit less than we suggest in the recipe.
  • Which Irish whiskey to use? The one you happen to have on hand, we say! Most liquor stores stock only a handful of brands, but all the ones we’ve tried work fine in cocktails.
  • This drink, as the name suggests, is named after a shrub called the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). Its fruit —  called “sloes” — are much like small plums, though too tart to be eaten out of hand. It’s from this fruit that sloe gin is made.
  • So it’s not surprising that there’s a version of this drink made with sloe gin. If you’d like to try it, here’s a recipe: 2 ounces sloe gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, and a dash or two of bitters (no absinthe). We’ve also seen a version that calls for 1½ ounces sloe gin, 1 ounce dry gin, ¾ ounce sweet vermouth, and 2 or 3 dashes of orange bitters.
  • There’s yet another version of the Blackthorn that is championed by cocktail expert Ted Haigh. This one calls for 2 ounces dry gin, ¾ ounce red Dubonnet, and ¾ ounce kirschwasser. It’s a tasty libation.
The Blackthorn Cocktail

Shamrock On

“Beautiful drink,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Great flavor, too. Makes me feel quite mellow and relaxed.”

“Lucky thing I learned about the Blackthorn,” I said. “Wouldn’t want you to feel anguished on St Patrick’s Day.”

“So it’s the luck of the Irish, you might say?” asked Mrs K R.

“Indeed,” I said. “Shall we extend our lucky streak with another of these?”

“Just one more,” said Mrs K R. “Or else it might be the snoring of the green.”

You may also enjoy reading about:
Manhattan Cocktail
The Hern's Cocktail
The Brainstorm Cocktail
Irish Coffee
Whiskey Sour
Or check out the index for more

86 comments:

Velva said...

We must be riding the cocktail wave together! This one looks fabulous. Since I seem to be open to whiskey's of late, need to do this one.

Velva

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Velva, you definitely need this one! It's really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Sue/the view from great island said...

omg my husband would love this, I've got to go out and get some absinthe!

mymansbelly said...

I love the addition of absinthe in this. And anything with whiskey is great in my book!

Pam said...

What a combination! I love Irish whiskey so I am pretty sure I would LOVE this drink!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Sue, absinthe is good -- you'll find other uses for it. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Pamela, I wouldn't have thought of adding absinthe, but it really works. Good drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Pam, Irish whiskey is good, isn't it? I bet you would love this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

laura dembowski said...

Absinthe is very fun to play around with, but it is so strong. I'm a lightweight though ;)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Laura, absinthe is strong stuff. Good thing this drink only requires a small amount! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Juliana said...

What a nice cocktail John...I now can use the whiskey I have...
Thanks for the post.
I hope you are enjoying your week :)

Wok with Ray said...

Another beautiful drink that is perfect for the coming Irish holiday. Thank you, John. :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Juliana, always happy to help you out with that whiskey! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Ray, we do enjoy find drinks appropriate for the season. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Angie Schneider said...

It looks so beautiful that I want to have one too!

natalia20041989 said...

I don't drink alcohol, but it looks so good☺

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

Irish whiskey and absinthe? Really? Very intrigued. I remember the first time I had a sip of Irish whiskey, was not impressed lol. But times change our palate. Thanks for sharing!

krishna said...

Beautiful drink.. perfect for celebrations.. Thank you for visiting my blog..

Liz Berg said...

Another magazine worthy photo! Yes, this would be perfect for sipping on St. Patrick's Day.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Angie, it does have nice color. Not to mention flavor! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Natalia, we used to never drink cocktails, but always loved the way they look. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Evelyne, we like Irish whiskey, but some of it's a bit light in flavor. But it works well in cocktails. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Krishna, doesn't this look nice? :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Liz, it's a lovely drink -- very nice flavor. :-) Thanks for that very nice comment.

Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things said...

Oh, now that's lovely! I think my Peter would like this one. Is it really almost St Patrick's Day already?! Wow, the year is zooming by.

Deb|EastofEdenCooking said...

John your lush photos have me craving a sip of this fabulous drink. The lemon twist is sublime!

GiGi Eats Celebrities said...

St Patricks day is not even on my radar - hahahahahaha! Good thing I am not Irish or else they'd probably SHUN me! ha!

beyondkimchee said...

Wow, gorgeous color! Love the shot, John!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Liz, the year really is going fast, isn't it? Almost spring for us. And fall for you. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Deb, you'll be happy if you give into the temptation and have a sip -- or two! -- of this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi GiGi, St. Pat's Day isn't on a lot of people's radar, but this drink should be! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Holly, isn't this pretty? And so good! Thanks for the comment.

Gerlinde de Broekert said...

Your photos are stunning. It's cocktail hour here in California. I would love to have your drink right now.Prost!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Gerlinde, Prost! Wish you had one of these too -- good drink. :-) Thanks for the very kind comment.

Eva Taylor said...

I am so relieved you didn't do a green drink! I have a thing for absinthe too (wanting to get one of those antique spoons for such a long time!) I could really get into this retry Cocktail. Plus, anything in a classy martini stems gets me!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Eva, no green drinks here! Well, at least not for St. Patrick's Day. :-) We need to get one of those antique spoons, too -- very cool, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.

Tricia Buice said...

I always enjoy a good Irish whiskey! The color and the clear, clean look of this drink is gorgeous. Thanks - and top of the morning to ya!

Jeff said...

I love absinthe as much as I love whiskey, yet I have never had them together, so this drink sounds exciting. And I love that it's not green!

Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen said...

I think the husband will love this drink. Looks good.

Denise Browning said...

Goldenlicious, shiny, and so appropriate to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Tricia, great color, isn't it? Love clear drinks, although they can be a pain to photograph! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Jeff, doesn't absinthe have a nice flavor? Strong -- you definitely know you're drinking it! -- but captivating. Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Peachy, bet he would! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Denise, goldenlicious indeed! Good word. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Yi said...

That drink looks amazing! I don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day like a lot people do here in NYC (i.e. get ridiculous drunk) but I'd sip on this gorgeous cocktail in a heart beat. Thanks for sharing!

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

I've just received a bottle of premium Irish Whiskey; maybe it's fate that I get your post today too. I have some absinthe too...the real deal even. Yes, fate and maybe the luck of the Irish. :)

Amira said...

You make cocktails not just a drink, but rather history and sometimes even science!!! I like that dedication :). I love to read all about your drinks. Thanks John.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Yi, I used to work in NYC -- St. Pat's Day is a hoot! I usually managed to be traveling out of town on that day. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Barbara, premium Irish whiskey? That'd be wonderful in this! We have some real deal absinthe too -- good, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Amira, we're definitely dedicated! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

What a beautiful looking cocktail, never heard of absinthe before, my husband would love this. Thanks John!

Food Gal said...

I can't believe it's nearly St. Paddy's Day. It seems like the year just began. Well, if I have to get used to time moving so quickly, this cocktail will definitely put me in the right mood to do so.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Cheri, absinthe has a nice flavor -- if you like anise, that is! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Carolyn, time really is flying, isn't it? Spring is on the horizon. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Amy (Savory Moments) said...

What a lovely cocktail this is! Perfect for a St Patrick's Day celebration.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Amy, this really is a good drink -- lovely flavor. Thanks for the comment.

Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes said...

What a perfect St. Patrick's day drink! love the flavors...

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Ashley, the flavors are wonderful in this! Thanks for the comment.

Robyn said...

This drink has such a pretty colour and sounds delicious. I tried Jameson's Irish Whiskey for the first time lately and that is one smoooooth whiskey! Love it :)
I think St. Patrick's Day must be a lot of fun at your house!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Robyn, we made this with Jameson's -- good stuff! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Debra Eliotseats said...

You so know I am going to try this next!!!!!! Great write up and history as always.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Debra, this is a good one -- you'll enjoy. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Beth said...

Irish eyes would indeed be smiling after one (or two) of these!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Beth, preferably two. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Abbe@This is How I Cook said...

I do love absinthe and we have some; plus a bottle of Irish whiskey he brought home. No doubt this drink will entice him to stick around! Thanks John!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Abbe, Manservant will love this! You, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Easyfoodsmith said...

My husband and I are teetotallers but it looks so amazing :D

All That I'm Eating said...

This sounds like a strong one! Love the colour.

Shashi at RunninSrilankan said...

Cheers to feeling relaxed on St Patty's and to this stunningly gorgoues Blackthorn! You sure do take some beautiful photos of drinks!

Kitchen Riffs said...

HI Taruna, nice thing about drinks is they look so interesting and colorful that you don't have to drink them -- just looking at them is fun! Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Caroline, there is a bit of booze in this, yes. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Shashi, isn't this pretty? Tasty, too. Thanks for the kind comment.

Pam said...

Love Irish whiskey and this drink sounds great! I will not shake it, for sure! Great recipe!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Pam, Irish whiskey is so smooth, isn't it? We love it too! Thanks for the comment.

Frank Fariello said...

Sounds delicious! Now I just have to get some Irish whiskey. I needed some for my whiskey collection anyway—I'm generally a single malt man, but I'm curious...

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Frank, different flavor than a single malt, but good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

mjskit said...

Nothing like a good Irish Whiskey. Have had a couple of cocktails with it, but this one doesn't look familiar. Going out to an Irish pub tomorrow night and I think I'll be ordering this cocktail. Looks delicious!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi MJ, Irish whiskey is rather nice, isn't it? You should definitely try this at the pub! Have fun. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Katerina said...

What a great cocktail to celebrate St. Patrick's Day! The only thing that's missing is some good old Irish music!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Katerina, after a couple of these we'll all be singing those good old Irish tunes! :-) Thanks for the comment.

Anna and Liz Recipes said...

Hi JOHn! Just came across your blog and absolutely love your photos and your recipes. This is a great cocktail to celebrate St Patty's DAY! THanks for a great recipe! Have a great weekend!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi A & L, isn't this nice? Enjoy! And welcome. :-) Thanks for the comment.

Helene Dsouza said...

Unfortunately I don't have any of these ingredients here and not in the bar either. The picture looks amazing with the blackthorn and dark background. I wish this was my cocktail tonight!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Helene, it's a good drink! Sometime when you have the ingredients, you should give it a try. Thanks for the comment.

Llamabean said...

I made this last night for my husband, he thought it was wonderful. I only had a sip to taste but will definitely be making these up again! Thank you so much.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Llamabean, isn't this a good drink? We really like its flavor! Glad you and your husband agreed. :-) Thanks for the comment.