Cup of the Irish: 3 Irish Whiskey Cocktails

irish cocktails for st. patrick's day
Cup of the Irish: 3 Irish Whiskey Cocktails
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this trio of Irish whiskey cocktails

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, that magical holiday where people either celebrate their Irish heritage or pretend they have Irish heritage to celebrate. Some people think this means getting riotously drunk, getting into a fight, and then throwing up on the sidewalk while the cops are handcuffing you. If that’s your thing, you should probably just start slamming green beer now, and get this ‘party’ started.

For those of us looking for a little more class, I’ve decided to put together a short list of cocktails using Irish whiskey that you can sip slowly, in moderation, while contemplating the contributions of Samuel Beckett and James Joyce to the world of literature. Or while dancing with a girl wearing a green sweater and a tiara with blinking green LEDs on it. Whatever floats your boat.

Irish whiskey’s an uncommon ingredient in cocktailing, but the reason for that has less to do with the liquor’s taste or mixing qualities and more to do with Prohibition, which came close to killing off the Irish whiskey industry entirely. Most Irish whiskey cocktails are either hard-to-find pre-Prohibition recipes or more modern inventions that have taken advantage of the industry’s recent resurgence.

Still, there are plenty of drinks out there if you look. I’ve put together three of them that differ substantially in taste while all showcasing this offering from the Emerald Isle. Less aggressive than many scotches, with a thinner, grassier taste than bourbon and less spice than rye, Irish whiskey is sometimes dismissed as boring. I disagree, and I think if you try a few of these drinks (and perhaps check out my Introduction to Irish whiskey article), you will too.

Irish Cocktail

irish cocktail recipe

OK, the name here is kind of obvious. It’s especially amusing since only a single ingredient on the list is actually from Ireland. Still, it’s the majority ingredient, so between that and the name, I think we’re safe.

What I like about this drink is it’s not just yet another Manhattan clone with different whiskey. There’s a whole lot of flavor in this one. I’ve adjusted the proportions a little bit from the traditional version, which I found to be way too anise-heavy for my taste, and took the pastis down substantially. Don’t worry … you’ll still know it’s there.

Combine all ingredients in a pint glass over ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.


Shamrock cocktail

Any mint fans in the house? This one seems a little strange on the surface, but it’s actually pretty good!

The original recipe for this drink calls for it to be garnished with an olive, but … nah. Not with sweet ingredients and definitely not with mint. I went with an orange twist instead. I also added a dash of orange bitters for depth. Oh, and green food coloring, because something called a Shamrock ought to be green, and the coloring from the crème de menthe just isn’t enough.

Note: a variation of this drink uses green Chartreuse instead of the mint liqueur. I adore green Chartreuse, and am not that big on mint, so I actually like that version better.

Combine all ingredients in a pint glass over ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.


Emerald cocktail in glass

All right, unlike the Irish Cocktail, this one actually is basically a Manhattan with Irish whiskey (and orange bitters instead of Angostura) but … yeah, there’s nothing really wrong with that! The Manhattan’s a classic for a reason. This drink tastes great, even if the name makes absolutely no sense for a dark brown cocktail.

Combine all ingredients over ice in a pint glass and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Christopher Buecheler

Christopher Buecheler is a novelist, a web developer, an award-winning amateur mixologist, a brewer, a guitarist, a drummer, and an NBA enthusiast. He lives a semi-nomadic life with his wife and two cats, currently residing in Providence, RI. You can learn more at his website,