I’ve broken the drinks down by those typically associated with winter and those nice in warmer weather. One drink that is considered seasonal all year round in Ireland is whiskey. The Irish language (Gaelic) term for whiskey is “uisce beatha’ (pronounced “ish-ka bah-ha”) which translates literally to mean “water of life.” Believed to have been introduced to Ireland by early Christian monks, whiskey has traditionally been a part of all of the great milestones in Irish life; the birth of a child, funerals, and of course, weddings. No Irish wedding would be considered complete, in fact, without a toast with a drop of the “crayture” as they say.
Irish Whiskey & How to Toast
The complex whiskey distilling process is still the subject of great secrecy and awe. Under Irish law, all whiskey must be aged in barrels a minimum of three years. That said, most good whiskey is distilled for considerably longer, and no self-respecting Irish person would serve “young” whiskey at a special occasion such as a wedding. There are a number of award-winning Irish whiskeys on the market today including Jameson’s, Bushmills, Kilbeggan, Power’s, Paddy, Midleton, and Cooley. The oldest of these, Bushmills, has been distilled in Northern Ireland since 1608. Scotch, the variety of whisky (no “e” in the spelling) produced in Scotland, is distinct from that in Ireland and is distilled using a different process involving the use of smoke.
A whiskey toast suitable for any happy occasion: Sláinte is saol (pronounced “slawncha-iss sail”). This translates to “health and long life to you!”
Irish Drinks and Cocktails
Drinks liked mulled wine and apple cider help create a warm and cozy atmosphere. Your guests will be charmed by the enticing smell. And, of course, an Irish coffee is the perfect ending to any special meal.
Serve cold on warm depending on the season. For colder months, you can heat the cider (very slowly - don't boil it) A muslin cloth of cloves, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg gives a lovely finishing touch. Add some orange slices for color. If you (or your caterer) have the time and/or the patience, slip one or two cloves through each slice or orange and drop it into the warmed cider. Your guests can drink it just as it is or add a splash of vodka, or better again, a white rum such as Bacardi.
This works very well in the cooler months, particularly if your guests are coming in from the cold. People usually have no more than one glass.
Make up a muslin cloth of cinnamon sticks and cloves or whatever spices in this family that you like, such as nutmeg or orange peel. Slowly, slowly heat the wine and stir occasionally while adding plenty of sugar (the most important ingredient) There is no "right" way - just keep tasting it and decide if you like it. You don't have to be a wine expert by any stretch. Again, don't boil it - just warm it very slowly.
Like wine coolers, mulled wine does not require expensive or good wine. Experiment with a few different types of wine in advance to test the results, or talk to your caterer. You'll need to consider the type of dishware you use to serve the drink in. It's not meant to be as hot as coffee, but it should be nice and warm. Pottery goblets, if you can manage it, are a lovely touch. This one definitely works better for smaller gatherings.
Either mulled wine or apple cider create a warm atmosphere and everybody seems to love the way they smell, especially during colder months.
For one serving you'll need:
A shot of whiskey
A few tablespoons of sugar to taste
Slice of lemon
sugar or honey
Place the 3 cloves through the lemon slice. (For multiple servings, do this in advance)
Pour a shot of whiskey into the glass
Add an equal amount of boiling water
(Either preheat the glass with hot water or put a spoon in the glass while pouring in the hot water to conduct the heat and avoid breakages. Hot whiskey should be served very Hot.)
Add sugar or honey to taste
Add the slice of lemon
Get ready to warm up!
Irish coffees are very popular and can be an optional item for guests. They are quite filling, so it is unlikely that you will need more than one per guest. If you are serving a light meal and want to go heavy on desert choices, this might be a nice addition.
Irish Coffee Recipes
1 shot of Irish Whiskey (remember not all Irish whiskeys are equal)
2 teaspoons of Sugar
Fresh Hot Coffee
Rinse the (wine) glass with hot water (or put a spoon in there while you're pouring the hot water in to avoid breakage)
Pour in the sugar, coffee and whiskey.
Slowly pour whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it sits on top. It's not meant to be stirred into the drink. Enjoy!
Here's a variation on the Irish Coffee recipe:
Triple Irish Coffee
1 Oz. Irish Whiskey
1 Oz. Irish Cream
1 Oz. Irish mist
Top With Whipped Cream
Hot Irish Nut
1 Part Irish Cream
1 Part Frangelica
1 Part Amaretto
Serve in a coffee mug
Guinness porter or stout ale is perhaps Ireland’s most famous export. Aficionados will tell you that for best taste and consistency it should only be consumed on the island of Ireland and in draft form (pulled by an expert bar man or woman). But Guinness here in the U.S. has vastly improved and even the variety available in cans has reached a very high quality of late. Serving Guinness to your guests is a quick and easy way to add an Irish flavor to the reception. Other Irish beers available in the U.S. include Harp Lager, Smithwick’s Ale, Killian’s Irish Red, Beamish Stout, and Murphy’s Stout.
This is an unusual but very tasty wedding drink consisting of half champagne, half Guinness. A champagne glass gives it an elegant appearance. If you’re making these yourself, be sure to pour each drink slowly and get a little practice in as you don’t want the champagne to bubble up too much or the Guinness to be all “head.” Pour the champagne first, then follow with the Guinness.
A honeyed wine, mead dates back to the 5th Century. The name literally means “mouth of honey.” Newly married couples traditionally drank mead for a full cycle of the moon after their wedding as it was believed to enhance virility and fertility. Hence the term “honeymoon!” Mead can be served either warm or cold. It’s very sweet so each guest will want just a small amount. Mead can be ordered from the Bunratty Castle gift shop in County Clare.
“3/4 Oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream (or similar)
3/4 Oz. Irish whiskey
Serve over ice
Bubbly Irish Nut
1 Oz. Bailey’s
1 Oz. Amaretto
4 Oz. soda water
2 Oz. Green Crème de Menthe
2 Oz. Heavy cream
1 Oz. Irish whiskey
Shake with ice