This is not your typical Irish whiskey cocktail. While plenty of Irish variations exist on classic whiskey tipples like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, few, if any, call for an equal measure of mezcal. Ordinarily, I would be a bit dubious of such a bizarre recipe, but the Good Cork has a reliable pedigree. It was developed by Phil Ward, the famous bartender and bar owner celebrated for pioneering the modern agave-based cocktail (the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, among many others).
The Good Cork is an intriguing cocktail for several reasons. First, it proves Irish whiskey cocktails can be bold, a word not often associated with the traditionally light spirit. Second, it demonstrates the versatility of Irish single pot still whiskey, a style increasingly in vogue that is made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley. And as Mr. Ward surely intended, it proves the elegance of mezcal, a spirit often stereotyped as brash and unsophisticated.
Since the base spirits are split in equal measure, it is probably unfair to categorize this one as solely an Irish whiskey cocktail, and in all honesty, an uninformed drinker may not even detect the whiskey at its core. The aroma is big and smoky (how smoky depends on the type of mezcal used) but the Benedictine goes a long way to soften those tarry edges, creating an aroma that is less coal-fired and more sweet campfire. The palate is where the Irish single pot still sings, adding roundness, a peppery spice, and subtle orchard fruit notes to the earthy, savory mezcal elements. Order this one on your upcoming St. Paddy’s bar crawl, and you might just earn the undying respect of your bartender.
1 oz. single pot still Irish whiskey
1 oz. mezcal
½ oz. Benedictine
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass over ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with an apple slice.