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A Toast to Irish Whiskey for a St. Patrick’s Day Like No Other An Option for Social Distancing in the Age of Coronavirus

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Above image credit: The Monarch Bar on the Country Club Plaza offers Irish Jade, a cocktail featuring Sons of Erin and Bushmills Black. (Contirbuted | The Monarch Bar)
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5 minute read

Sure, St. Patrick’s Day is usually about beer and the good cheer of a crowded pub. But in an unprecedented age of social distancing, hunkering down over a glass of Irish whiskey (at a distance from other revelers or at home alone) might be the best way keep your spirits up.

Brady’s Public House, 5424 Troost Ave., keeps 87 bottles of Irish whiskey on its wall. Most drinkers who are new to Irish whiskey start out with a $5 happy hour Jameson whiskey, a smooth example of the style and the leading brand in the United States. 

Meanwhile, would-be connoisseurs with their own pot of gold have been known to kick their heels up over a rare Gelston’s Old Irish Whiskey, one of just 3,000 bottles of single malt whiskey aged 25 years and going for $75 a shot. (The bottle’s run dry: The most expensive available right now, a $42 Redbreast Whiskey.)

“Brady’s is really well-known for its food, but as time’s gone on, we’re starting to really get a name for different whiskey, and interesting cocktails with the whiskey as well,” says bar manager Ryan Rafferty. 

Instead of offering up flights of Irish whiskey for a side-by-side comparison, Rafferty prefers to personally help customers find a brand and a style that fits both their palate and wallet.

Brady's  Public House bar manager Ryan Rafferty.
Brady’s Public House bar manager Ryan Rafferty. (Jill Wendholt Silva)

“We have scotch, we have bourbon, but your first sell is always Irish whiskey,” Rafferty tells his staff. After all, Irish whiskey has been one of the fastest growing spirits in the world for the past decade, and “each member of our staff has their personal favorites.”

Rafferty, who is originally from Belfast, is a big fan of Bushmills 16-year. He’s also into Yellow Spot, and if budget were not an issue, he’d pony up for Midleton. 

“I’m pretty eclectic in my tastes: Bushmills is a single malt, Yellow Spot is a single pot still, and the Midleton is a blend,” he says.

The word “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic language and means “water of life.” The Irish whiskey category has been “on fire” and benefited from millennial drinkers’ desire to “trade up” from premium to high-end and super-premium products, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

To be designated an Irish whiskey, the spirit must be made in Ireland, comprised primarily of barley, triple-distilled and aged in barrels for a minimum of three years. There are four styles of Irish whiskey: Irish blend, single malt Irish, single grain Irish and single pot still. 

Benay Shannon, a former science teacher-turned-distiller, started Restless Spirits, 109 E. 18th Ave. in North Kansas City, in 2016 with her husband, Mike Shannon. She uses a custom-made onion dome copper pot still modeled after the one at Bushmills and she nick-named it Darby O’Still, a wink to the movie “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” (1959).

Her Sons of Erin Irish Whiskey is imported from Great Northern Distillery, owned by John Teeling, considered the godfather of Ireland’s whiskey renaissance. She finishes it in used bourbon barrels to mellow and “make it our own.” She also produces Stone Breaker, an Irish and American blended whiskey.

“Irish whiskey isn’t as strongly flavored because it doesn’t have as many barrel notes like bourbon,” says Shannon, adding that seems to make it more attractive to women who have greater olfactory capacity than men.

Unlike bourbon aged in new oak barrels or scotch that takes its smokier notes from fires fueled with peat, Irish whiskey tends to be smoother with more fruity, honey and floral and fewer barrel notes.

The Monarch Bar on the Country Club Plaza offers Irish Jade, a cocktail featuring Sons of Erin and Bushmills Black. 

“The profile (of Sons of Erin) is light, with the peachy banana notes that people acquiesce to…it’s an easy drinking whiskey,” says Brock Schulte, Monarch’s bar director.

A riff on the classic Irish coffee, the Irish Jade also includes an impressive list of Kansas City ingredients: J. Rieger Caffe Amaro, Second Best Cold Brew, and Five Farms matcha mint nitro whipped cream.

Five Farms Irish Cream is imported from Ireland, by McCormick Distilling Co. in Weston, Mo. The whiskey-cream liqueur was first released at the end of 2017 and has been competing alongside the more famous Bailey’s Irish Cream as a farm-to-table option.

Every Friday, a truck collects the cream of Holstein Friesian dairy cows of five family owned farms in County Cork and the batch is blended with 10 percent triple-distilled Irish whiskey within 48 hours of collection. 

“We’re finding people want to know where their food is coming from,” says Jordan Germano, a brand manager for McCormick Distilling Co.

The cream liqueur is bottled in an old-fashioned milk bottle and is available at Browne’s Irish Marketplace, 3300 Pennsylvania Ave, North America’s oldest Irish business. Five Farms Irish Cream received a 2020 Growth Brand Award from the Beverage Information Group.

While some Irish whiskey drinkers prefer their dram neat or with a drop of water to open it up, at Brady’s they’re not opposed to adding whiskey to cocktails. 

A new cocktail set to debut after St. Patrick’s Day is an alcoholic play on the limeade sold at the summer fairgrounds. A variation on the traditional sour with an egg white flip, the cocktail featuring Bushmills is drizzled with the juice of a few bourbon-soaked cherries.

“I’m for Irish whiskey being in cocktails because it increases awareness,” Rafferty says. “But it has to be appropriate to the style.”

Irish Whiskey Cocktails

Old Country

Makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey
1/2 ounce brown sugar vanilla simple syrup
4 dashes orange bitters
4 dashes angostura bitters
Drop of cherry juice 

Orange peel, cherry, for garnish
Stir whiskey, syrup, bitters and cherry juice with ice in a glass and garnish with orange peel and a cherry. -Ryan Rafferty, Brady’s Public House

Irish Sidecar

Makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce citrus juice
1 ounce simple syrup

Orange peel, for garnish
Shake whiskey, Cointreau, citrus juice (Rafferty likes a mixture of orange, lemon and lim) and syrup with ice. Strain into sugar-rimmed glass and garnish with orange peel. -Ryan Rafferty, Brady’s Public House

Irish Coffee

Makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces Clontarf Irish Whiskey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Hot coffee

Heavy whipping cream
In an Irish coffee mug, add whiskey and sugar. Fill glass with hot coffee. Top with a heavy whipping cream whipped to a double cream consistency. -Ryan Rafferty, Brady’s Public House

Belfast Limeade

Makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white

Cherry and lime wheel, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, shake whiskey, lime juice syrup and egg white (no ice) to emulsify the egg white. Add ice to shaker and shake for 15 seconds. Strain over ice and garnish with cherry and lime. Pour bar spoon of cherry juice over top of cocktail. -Ryan Rafferty, Brady’s Public House

Irish Chocolate Truffle Martini

Makes 1 cocktail

3 ounces Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur
1 ounce 
360 Double Chocolate Flavored Vodka

In a cocktail shaker, add ice, Five Farms cream liqueur and vodka. Shake until chilled and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired. –Five Farms Irish Cream, for more recipes go to

The Irish Chocolate Truffle Martini.
The Irish Chocolate Truffle Martini. (Contributed | Five Farms Irish Cream)

Jill Wendholt Silva is a James Beard award-winning food editor and freelance writer. You can follow her at @jillsilvafood.

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