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Saturday, March 14, 2009

St. Paddy’s Day Cocktails, Part I

It’s that time of year again.  St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, and sure, and it’s time to get ready for an orgy of drinking and partying on St. Paddy’s Day (SPD).  For a mixologist, this is about the most serious moment since Father O’Malley wiped the make-up off that little girl’s face (God bless her) in The Bells of St. Mary’s in Brooklyn all those years ago.  Personally, I’ve done so much drinking in preparation that I will probably abstain when the great day finally arrives.  (Well, don’t bet on it.)
I used to live in Chicago, home of the great Irishman and President of the US, Barack O’bama.  Some might say that SPD is a big deal in Chicago, what with Richard Daley being mayor and all.  Others might say that that’s an understatement.  I agree wholeheartedly with both.  In Chicago on SPD, they not only dye the river green, they dye the beer green, too.  Green drinks seem to have become something of a fad on SPD, and I will provide some green cocktail recipes for the enjoyment of any of your friends that require them in Part II.  Others are more interested in serious drinking, and I will endeavor to keep them happy too.   That reminds me of my favorite Saint Paddy’s Day joke:  Two Irishmen walked out of a bar… Well, don’t laugh, it could happen!  Anyway, when I tweeted that I was working on SPD cocktails, some friends responded with ideas that are acknowledged below.
My friend John Mahaffie suggested my first SPD cocktail: the O’jito.  Of course, he only suggested the name, leaving the hard part to me, but that’s part of the sad lot of an itinerant mixologist.  (Well, if my wife kicks me out, I could end up homeless.)  It’s a heavy cross to bear, but it must be born.  Of course, the O’jito is a Gaelic version of the Mojito, so it has to have mint in it.  I could have gone with a variation on the classic Mojito recipe, substituting Irish Whiskey for Rum and leaving out the lime, but I decided to go for something slightly more exotic.  I ended up with the concoction of mint, Baileys® Irish Cream, and Amaretto that you can find below.  I think you’ll enjoy it.
Another friend, Stephen Aguilar-Millan, recommended a classic, the Black Velvet.  The Black Velvet can be made by just combining the ingredients Guinness® Stout and Champagne, but it’s more dramatic if you layer them like a Pousse Café.  (See Derrick Schommer’s video for directions.)   This can be a little hard to do in a champagne flute, so practice first if you plan on trying to impress your friends.  Pour the layered ingredients carefully over the spoon to kill their velocity so they don’t combine with lower layers.  Remember, if you screw it up, you have to drink the results.   Due to the carbonation in both the stout and the champagne, the Black Velvet ingredients will gradually intermingle on their own, but when you first layer them the stout will appear to be rising in the champagne like mist off the lake at summer camp just before the slasher arrives.
I found the final cocktail in today’s post, the Emerald, on Paul Clarke’s excellent blog The Cocktail Chronicles.  You’ll notice that this sounds a lot like a Manhattan made with Irish Whiskey, and should be served pretty much in the same way.  Paul’s recipe called for orange bitters, but I tried the Emerald with three different types of bitters that I had in my bar: Peychaud’s®, Stirring’s® Blood Orange, and Agnostura®, and liked the results in the order listed.  My wife preferred the Blood Orange, so experiment if you have different types of bitters.

6-8 Mint leaves
1 ½  oz Baileys® Irish Cream
1 ½  oz Amaretto
Place the mint and Amaretto into a mixing glass.  Muddle 15-20 times to release the oil and aroma of the mint.  Fill glass half full of ice, pour in the Bailey’s and stir well, being careful not to shred the mint leaves.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Black Velvet
3-6 oz chilled stout
3-6 oz chilled Champagne
The amount of the ingredients depends on the size of your glass.  Pour stout into a champagne flute or beer glass. Add champagne carefully, pouring it slowly over an inverted spoon so it does not mix with the stout, and serve.

2 ounces Jameson Irish whiskey
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Stir with ice & strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

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