Irish Drinks

Since my name Erin actually means Ireland in the Irish language, I sort of thought people to buy me free drinks during my visit to Ireland – and they did! So here’s to the great Isle of Erin – Slainte! (“Cheers” in Irish).

And while you’re toasting, you probably have 1 of these 3 (if not all three!) notorious Irish drinks in your hand:

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey is one of the earliest distilled drinks in Europe, arising around the 12th century. Bushmills Irish Whiskey claims to be the oldest surviving licensed distillery in the world, receiving a license from King James I in 1608.

The word “whiskey” means “water of life” in Gaelic. To be a true Irish whiskey, the liquor needs to meet several criteria. (This list also distinguishes Irish Whiskey from Scotch and Bourbon.) Genuine Irish whiskey must be:

  • Distilled and aged in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.
  • Contain an alcohol by volume level of less than 94.8%.
  • Be produced from a yeast-fermented mash of cereal grains.
  • Aged for at least 3 years in wooden casks.

Irish Coffee

Irish coffee has been around about 100 years and was invented by a bloke names Joe Sheridan, from County Limerick. It’s hot coffee, with a shot of Irish whiskey, a bit of brown sugar and a thick layer of cream on top. Under no circumstances are you supposed to use whipped cream.

The correct way to drink an Irish coffee is to sip the drink through the layer of cream, without stirring it. This is harder than it seems, since you naturally want to lick the cream off the top.

Irish coffee has a tight tie with San Francisco, making its debut at the famed Buena Vista Club in 1952. By its own count, the Buena Vista has served more than 30 million Irish coffee since then. I’ve had a few there myself!

Guinness Stout

Ireland is almost synonymous with Guinness. Dubbed “the black stuff” for it dark brown color, Guinness is known for its slightly lactic taste and thick creamy head. This cream layer is the result of the beer being mixed with nitrogen when being poured. A correct pour, we all know, takes 7 minutes, allowing for the beer to settle into its layered complexity before drinking.

Arthur Guinness started brewing his porter in 1759 out of the St. James’s Gate Brewery in the center of Dublin. The Guinness Storehouse is now Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction. My friend Brid and I went one Saturday afternoon. It cost us €16.50 each (about $21) and we got a free pint at the end.

In general, we thought the tour was a lacking the personal touch. We had a 5-minute introduction, but the rest of the exhibit was mainly a bunch of screens showing the brewing process via video. The best part of the brewery tour was the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor which gives you a 360° view of Dublin.

I’ve actually developed quite a taste for Guinness. I like to drink a pint, not a wimpy glass, and I am slightly addicted to the cream layer. In fact, I want one right now just thinking about it!

Oops! There I go again, living up to my Irish name! :)

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 6th, 2012 and is filed under Food & Drink.

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