A little bit of Irish

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and I thought I would share some interesting tidbits about a few things Irish.

Saint Patrick, was actually not Irish, but British Roman. When he was about 16, he was taken as a slave to Ireland, by Celtic pirates, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to Britain. He joined the catholic church, and eventually returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop, to bring Christianity to the tribes that he had come to know and love. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

Although Ireland is arguably the birthplace of whiskey, currently there are only 5 operating distilleries in Ireland: Middleton Distillery, Bushmills Distillery, Cooley Distillery, Kilbeggan Distillery, and Clontarf Distillery. Of these 5 distilleries, only Cooley Distillery is Irish owned. These distilleries produce over 70 different brands/varieties of Irish Whiskey.

Corned Beef & Cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. In fact, while corned beef has been around in Ireland for centuries, it wasn’t until immigrating to North America that the dish became more well known. Even today, it is not a meal that is often consumed in Ireland, except by tourists.

Ireland has only been a self-governed country since 1922 (as the Irish Free State) and more recently as the independent Republic of Ireland, created in 1937. In 1949, Ireland seceded from the British Commonwealth, and was was officially recognised by Britain through the Ireland Act 1949.

Although Ireland’s most famous beer is Guinness, over 60% of the beer sold in the country is actually lager. In a similar fashion to it’s distilleries, at the beginning of the 19th century there were over 200 breweries in the country, 55 of them in Dublin alone. During the latter half of the 19th century the number of breweries fell to about 50, and today there only about 12, although craft brewing is beginning to emerge again. Also of interest is the fact that hops did not come into widespread use in Ireland until late in the 18th century, far after they were being used in most countries in the world.

Hurling is the national sport of Ireland. Similar to lacrosse, this intense field game is considered one of the fastest paced games in the world. And if you thought that Friday night football in Texas was a big deal, you ain’t seen nothing!

So there are your fun facts for the day. Sláinte!

Beer of the Week: Three Skulls Blood Orange Wit

Three Skulls Ales in Seattle, WA is an offshoot of Baron Brewing LLC. Three Skulls was created to brew beers other than the traditional german style beers regularly brewed at Baron Brewing. Both my wife and I are fans of Witbiers so we thought that we would give the Three Skulls Blood Orange Wit a shot.

This beer pours an uber cloudy, straw yellow with a very minimal head. The typical wit aromas of citrus, coriander, and yeast are present, with a little bit of peppery spice as well. As far as flavors go, there are the expected flavors of soft grainy wheat, coriander, light spices, and just a hint of acidic orange. The blood orange flavors are actually very suppressed, and if it didn’t say so on the bottle, I’m not sure I would even notice them. The wit is heavily carbed, but overall has a fairly thin mouthfeel. While this is not a beer to write home about in the least, It would make a good thirst quencher on a hot summer afternoon. Cheers!

Vintage Cocktails #55: The Vieux Carré

This last Monday, at Tales of the Cocktail Vancouver, I attended several sessions, one of which was: Famous New Orleans Cocktails. Our next cocktail is one of these classic New Orleans treasures. Originally the signature drink of the Hotel Monteleone, this is yet another drink that for some reason or another faded off the map. There is reason to celebrate however, as it is once again being served at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone.

The Vieux Carré
1 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 tsp Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Peychauds Bitters

Vintage Cocktails #54: The Soother

In 1935, A.S. Crockett, historian of the Waldorf-Astoria, put to paper The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. This book provided the recipes for over five hundred cocktails served prior to prohibition at the world’s most famous bar, as well as over a hundred recipes for drinks originating during, or slightly after prohibition. Presumably Crockett’s goal was to provide direction for the lost art of tending the rail, however, his book is a little challenging in that a large portion is essentially variations of the classic martini. Alternating ratios of vermouth, both sweet and dry, as well as different brands of gin and bitters, make finding a great cocktail in this book somewhat difficult. However, Ted Haigh has done the hard work for us, and unearthed a true gem.

The Soother
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Jamaican Rum
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 tsp Apple Juice
1/2 tsp Simple Syrup (or Agave Nectar)

Vintage Cocktails #53: The Seelbach Cocktail

Created in 1917 as the signature cocktail of the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, this cocktail lay forgotten to the world until the mid 1990′s when it was brought back to life by Adam Seger, restaurant manager at the Seelbach. I do not know why this drink ever faded into obscurity as it is a fantastic champagne based cocktail. The sweetness of the champagne and liquer is perfectly balanced by the extra large dose of bitters, and the bourbon creates a great backbone flavor. The higher proof the bourbon, the better this drink will be. A 100 proof rye works excellently as well. Cheers!

The Seelbach Cocktail
1 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Cointreau
7 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
7 dashes Angostura Bitters
Champagne