Ireland is not really known for its craft cocktails. Really, it’s the land of Guiness, whiskey, sheep – and really good pubs. But, when Carlyle Fairfax Smith, who represents Ireland’s Blue Book Hotels here in the U.S., mentioned that a Black Velvet is one part Guinness and one part Champagne, I wanted to explore Irish cocktail scenes and their respective creators further.
Ireland’s Blue Book Hotels are part of the Historic Hotels of Europe and include a collection of Irish Country Houses, Manor Houses, small Castles and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Activities when staying at a Blue Book Hotel vary from golf, fishing, spas and tourism. As Ireland's food scene has blossomed, cooking schools have been increasingly popular. With a choice of elegant Georgian Manors, Stately Castles, Historic Hotels, cosy Bed and Breakfast accommodation, Luxury Boutique Hotels and Designer Lodges, there is something to suit everyone's tastes and requirements.
Cocktails at the intimate and luxurious Blue Book properties can range from the very simple to the complicated, like the Mulled Appletini offering from Newforge House. Martinis rule and two simple yet elegant recipes follow. All are perfect for the holidays!
Newforge House, County Armagh
Cradled in mature gardens and green fields in the village of Magheralin, Newforge House built in 1785, has been in the family for six generations. Newforge boasts light and airy reception rooms and six individually designed bedrooms. Period features and antiques blend seamlessly with contemporary comforts- fireplaces, shutters and cornicing, for example, have been lovingly restored, whilst elegant modern bathrooms and excellent beds have been added to ensure guests enjoy a most relaxing stay.
First class food is an important feature of the welcome to guests. Care is taken to sourcing local seasonal produce and meals are prepared to order. Newforge is centrally located in Northern Ireland and well positioned as a base for touring County Armagh and County Down.
Newforge Mulled Armagh Appletini
(name brands can be substituted)
1 part mulled Shortcross Gin
1 part Ruby Blue Vodka
3 parts Armagh Cider Company Apple Juice
First make the mulled Shortcross Gin:
1 bottle Shortcross Gin
210g caster Sugar (7 ½ oz)
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
5 cardamon pods
1 star anise
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
Pour 200ml (7 oz.) gin into a pan and stir in the sugar and spices. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved and the gin is hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, mix in remaining Shortcross Gin and strain the liquid through a sieve into a large jug and decant into sterilized bottles.
To make the Mulled Armagh Appletini: Shake the vodka, mulled gin and apple juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Serve in champagne saucers or martini glasses and garnish with a slice of apple and a star anise.
Mount Juliet Estate, Co. Kilkenny
Steeped in heritage, Mount Juliet Country Estate is a stunning walled estate covering 1,500 acres of sprawling countryside in County Kilkenny. Famed for the welcome and exceptional service every guest receives, Mount Juliet is 20 minutes from the historical city of Kilkenny and just over one hour from Dublin. Enjoy everything the estate has to offer including golf on the world-famous Jack Nicklaus designed course, dinner in the Michelin Star Lady Helen restaurant, a treatment in the luxury spa, river and lake fishing, equestrian centre with guided trails and lessons, woodland walks, bike rides and much more. The residents’ bar at Mount Juliet Estate is called the Majors Bar, and is named after Major-General Sir Hugh McCalmont and Major Dermot McCalmont who both lived at Mount Juliet Estate. The Majors Bar is a place to sit back and contemplate the world.
The Race Winner (Espresso Martini)
This espresso martini is the signature cocktail of Mount Juliet Estate.
1 ½ oz Vodka
Double shot espresso
1 ½ oz Kahlua
Pour ingredients into martini shaker. Shake well with ice and strain into a martini glass and garnished with coffee beans. Should be frothy.
The Bushmills Inn, County Antrim
One of Ireland’s most well-known luxurious hotels, The Bushmills Inn is situated in an enviable location a stone’s throw from Royal Portrush Golf Club, Old Bushmills Distillery, The Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle. Roaring peat fires, nooks and crannies and a secret library set the tone. In the bar, still lit by gas light, try a glass of malt from the hotel’s private cask and make sure to sample some of the finest North Antrim produce in the AA Rosette restaurant.
Raspberry & White Chocolate Martini
1 oz vodka
1 oz. Chambord raspberry liqueur
2 oz Godiva White Chocolate liqueur
½ oz White Crème de Cacao
Chocolate sauce for garnish
Drizzle chocolate sauce on inside wall of martini glass. Put all other ingredients in martini shaker with ice and shake well until frosted on outside of shaker. Strain into decorated martini glasses.