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Irish Whiskey Cocktails to Celebrate a Great Drinking Holiday

Welcome to Buy You a Drink, where GOOD’s resident mixologist offers intoxicating beverages in tune with the times. This week: Irish whiskey...


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Welcome to Buy You a Drink, where GOOD’s resident mixologist offers intoxicating beverages in tune with the times. This week: Irish whiskey cocktails for those who prefer to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without food coloring in their beer.

I may be just a humble booze writer, but I’ve got big dreams. I dream of a day when party-going Americans think of red Solo cups as receptacles for sophisticated beverages, not just the stuff of beer pong and hit country songs. I dream of a nation of frat-party attendees dumping out their Popov vodka and flat grocery-store tonic in favor of mixing a simple yet elegant and refreshing Collins with fresh lemon juice and sugar. And I dream that Americans might one day celebrate a purportedly Irish holiday without pouring anything down their gullets with “car bomb” in the name.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the components of the so-called “Irish car bomb.” I enjoy Guinness, Bailey’s, and Irish whiskey—occasionally I enjoy them all, in relatively rapid succession. But if the chemical properties of your beverage are such that you must guzzle it now or see it curdle in front of your eyes, you might want to reevaluate how you’re spending your drinking time. It’s impossible to properly savor any liquid that flies icily past your tongue with its toes pointed like Georg Hackl. That’s just science.

You deserve better, and so does St. Patrick’s Day. As the last of the winter’s Holy Trinity of Drinking Holidays (after New Year’s Eve and Purim), SPD is our last chance for nine months to get sozzled as a society. That unity of purpose alone calls for something strong and Irish. It also calls for something sippable that’s worth remembering the next day.

The Call: Uisce Beatha, Made Even Better

Let’s face it. Whether you’re shouting “Slainte!” in a bar or at a house party, odds are the bartender will be in a terrible hurry and not eager to accommodate obscure requests. Order something with green Chartreuse from your local Paddy O’Themigan’s, and Irish eyes will not be smiling.

But as long as you like Irish whiskey—and apparently everyone does nowadays—you can drink simple, manageable, high-quality cocktails on St. Patrick’s Day. These two beauties, the Martini and Manhattan of the Irish whiskey world, require only whiskey, vermouth, either Bénédictine or bitters, and a few minutes’ peace from the thirsty throngs:

Brainstorm

as mixed by David Wondrich in Esquire Drinks

2 oz. Irish whiskey
½ tablespoon French [i.e., dry] vermouth
½ tablespoon Bénédictine

Stir well with cracked ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with twist of orange peel.

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Emerald

as mixed by David Wondrich in Esquire Drinks

2 oz. Irish whiskey
1 oz. Italian [i.e., sweet] vermouth
dash orange bitters

Stir well with cracked ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

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The Brainstorm and the Emerald stem from the same classic formula: good whiskey cut with a little fresh vermouth, stirred and served up—a pairing as natural as corned beef and cabbage, and just about as delicious. Plus they’re simple enough to assemble at any house party where the host has stocked her cabinet with a few fundamentals.

But say you’re hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party. You’re a reader of this column, which means you’re exceptionally charming, intelligent, and good-looking, with a reputation for taste and discernment in all things. Your guests will be expecting something equally exceptional in the libations department. For parties like that, I whipped up the following refinement of the Brainstorm, which tweaks the vermouth slightly and adds a refreshing and festive-colored hint of mint:

Dublin Fog

2 oz. Irish whiskey
½ tablespoon Bénédictine
½ tablespoon Dolin Blanc vermouth
dash orange bitters
sprig mint

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Roll gently to mix and release the flavors from the mint. Double-strain over new, finely-shaved ice packed tightly into a pewter or copper mug (or a standard tumbler or a red Solo cup, for that matter). Garnish with a new sprig of mint. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the ice peeking out from the top of the cocktail.

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To spruce up the Emerald, I borrowed the splash of Bénédictine from the Brainstorm and added a festive-colored absinthe rinse. The result is sweet, spicy, and strong in the mold of a Monte Carlo, Frisco, or Sazerac. I named it the Shillelagh, in honor of an Irish weapon that does not put folks in mind of terrorism. (A quick Google search suggests that name is attached to a concoction with all of the following ingredients: Irish whiskey, sloe gin, white rum, peach Schnapps, lemon juice, and sugar. To borrow a phrase from culinary expert Drew Magary: THAT DRINK IS ASS. I promise you my Shillelagh is better.)

Shillelagh

2 oz. Irish whiskey
1 oz. sweet vermouth [I used Carpano Antica]
Dash orange bitters
¼ oz. absinthe or pastis
¼ oz. Bénédictine

Stir all ingredients, except absinthe, with cracked ice. Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass or cocktail glass with the absinthe and discard any remaining liquid. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with one of those dyed maraschino cherries… if you must.

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If you feel a little bit out of place spacing out your Guinness consumption with an Irish whiskey cocktail, or sipping from a cocktail glass as others guzzle green Bud, just remember that St. Patrick himself was more about persecution than drinking. The locals weren’t so fond of old “crazed in the head” Pat back in the 5th century. If the rabble should mock you as you’re savoring a classed-up St. Patrick’s Day, just shake your head sadly on their behalf and vow to withhold your services as a banisher of snakes. People aren’t so judgmental when those curdled shots wear off and there are still unbanished snakes slithering all over town with reckless abandon.

Slainte! Please enjoy a safe, responsible St. Patrick’s Day. Send your cocktail ideas, or your corrections about the connotations of “shillelagh,” to mixologymailbag@gmail.com.

Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

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"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

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Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

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The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

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Health