There just aren’t enough Irish whiskey cocktails in the world today. If you ask the random stranger to name one, you’re almost 100% guaranteed to hear Irish Coffee, and while that tipple is timeless, it’s relegated to the less-than-versatile and almost exclusively seasonal category of “hot cocktails.” No one orders an Irish Coffee in the dead of summer, unless they reside in a retirement home. Believe me, I get why we don’t see more Irish whiskey cocktails. Other types of whiskey are simply more cocktail friendly because they pack more of a flavor punch and stand up to lots of modifiers, but that doesn’t mean an Irish whiskey cocktail can’t be done well.
Take, for example, this drink, the Hotel d’Alsace. This cocktail was created by bartender David Slape and named for the Paris hotel where famed Irish writer Oscar Wilde spent his final years. David cooked this one up in 2008 at a little speakeasy in New York City called PDT. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Anyway, it’s a great example of how a lighter whiskey can find its own way in a great cocktail. If you use a blended Irish whiskey, as originally intended, make sure to use 2 oz. (or a little more) to ensure the whiskey balances with the Benedictine and triple sec. Oh, and be sure to use fresh rosemary, the fresher the better, so that those herbal oils are well-incorporated. The result should be an expectedly light and sweet cocktail, but one that shows off a great balance of citrus, licorice, and herbs, all reinforced and gently elevated by a classic Irish whiskey.
2 oz. Bushmills Irish Whiskey
0.5 oz. Cointreau
0.5 oz. Benedictine
1 sprig rosemary
Combine Cointreau and Benedictine with the uglier part of the rosemary sprig in a mix glass and muddle gently. Add the Irish whiskey and ice and stir until well-chilled. Fine strain into a chilled rocks glass over a large cube of ice and garnish with the other half of the rosemary.