(Image courtesy of Glendalough Distillery)
As you may know, poitín was made illegal in Ireland hundreds of years ago by the ruling British. First started in 6th century monasteries (many years before whiskey!), poitin was originally known as uiscea beatha (pronounced ishka baha), which means, 'water of life.' Whiskey gets its name from the word uiscea.
Because it has an ABV of close to 90%, it's easy to see why the British didn't want the Irish public drinking it and getting rowdy. But it was also removed in an attempt to destroy Irish culture, just as they prohibited the Irish language from being spoken. Poitín, after all, is to Ireland what scotch is to the Scottish, sake is to the Japanese, and bourbon is to the American South.
Although the tipple was made legal to imbibe in Ireland in 1997 (by the now-self-governing Republic of Ireland), the first distilling license wasn't given out until late 2016. Check out this really lovely article from Irish Central to learn more from the first family granted the right-- and their history of distilling long before it was legal.
But now that poitín is becoming commercially available, that means one thing: poitín cocktails.
I have assembled a few for your perusal, should you get your hands on this unique and powerful spirit.
2 oz of Glendalough Poitín
A bit of bitters
A dash of cinnamon
Apple juice or cider
Brown sugar to taste
Garnish with a Granny Smith slice
Dissolve the sugar and cinnamon in the apple juice and bitters. Throw in the poitín. Serve warm in a glass mug or drinking horn by the fireside or over ice on a hot summer day.
Top o' The Morning
1 double shot of espresso (2 oz. or a shot glass)
A dash of simple syrup
A dash of bitters
2 oz of Glendalough Poitín
Garnish with mint
Put everything except for the mint in a shaker and some ice. Pour into a rocks glass, preferably with a big, spherical ice cube. Put the mint on top. Add chocolate syrup to the glass beforehand if you want to be sassy.
An Irishman in New Orleans
2 oz. Glendalough Poitín
1/2 shot of simple syrup (or a sugar cube if you're fancy)
3 dashes of Peychaud's Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Lemon slice for garnish
Combine the bitters and sugar/simple syrup in a shaker. Add a few ice cubes and the poitín, and until everything's nice and chill. Strain it into a chilled rocks glass. Put on the garnish and serve
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Many, many years ago when I first became obsessed with Game of Thrones... long before the TV show had been written, I remember an interview where GRRM was asked what the ending of A Song of Ice and Fire would be like.
And he said one word: bittersweet.
Read on for a discussion on how bittersweet we found this episode.