Centuries old crafts, contemporary design, cool bars and classic cocktails, welcome to the world of Dublin and Jameson Irish Whiskey. The world’s most famous Irish whiskey and Ireland’s
capital city go hand-in-hand. And when they get together they shake things up very nicely indeed, as we found when we hopped over for a recent visit.
Centuries old crafts
It might be the distillers and blenders that grab the whiskey spotlight but the importance of tradition in crafts is nowhere more striking than in the skills of the people who look after the all-important casks. As the Jameson Master Cooper, Ger Buckley is very much carrying on a family tradition as he practices his craft. And his quiet pride in this was evident when he spoke to us, saying: “I’m fifth generation at least. The tradition probably goes back further but that’s as far as I can prove. I know my great grandfather was a cooper in 1814. All my uncles were coopers. In fact, all my tools were theirs and I’m still using them. It’s kind of romantic to think I’m still working in exactly the same way, using exactly the same tools as my grandfather.”
Ger was also keen to point out that it’s not just about tracing a
personal line, adding: “We prepare a cask today exactly the same as it would have been done 2000 years ago in Roman times”. As for the present he stresses that the cooper’s craft goes beyond the
essential work of assembling and maintaining the casks. Particularly important is the charring of the oak barrels. Indeed, one of Ger’s many responsibilities involves heading to Kentucky once a year to oversee this process contributing as it does to the depth of rich flavours found in the sublime Jameson Select Reserve.
While coopering may go back 2000 years, modern design is just as important in Dublin. Take me&him&you, the design company
founded by Ronan Dillon and Peter O’Gara. These guys produce original pieces with an elegant simplicity in everything from books to interiors. We particularly like their series of screen print posters
celebrating the iconic buildings and refreshments of cities around the world including New York with a Manhattan cocktail,
Stockholm with snaps and London with a G & T.
Another designer who has a
modern take on the city is hometown artist Dermot Flynn. In a very special collaboration he has created a limited-edition Jameson Irish Whiskey bottle, which captures the spirit of the city.
Describing his thought process to us he explained that the unique visual and verbal culture of the city was key to his design. “If you look at the bottle, I’ve used a lot of slang interspersed with references to things like The
Commitments and James Joyce, images that were very Irish. And there’s a lot of the humour on it. So, for instance, when we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin there’s always the hassle of meeting up with people and trying to get around the city because of the
parade marching down the middle of it. I remember hearing one person on their mobile phone shouting: ‘I’m here. Can you not see me? I’m wearing green!’ The design is very much about the things I was hearing and seeing, that’s the inspiration behind the bottle – it’s really good fun.”
The images are almost like simple, charming doodles, while the
overheard remarks are cleverly brought to life in his particularly
individual calligraphy-driven style. These quirky and
beautiful bottles are only available in selected outlets such as Duty Free and sadly not in the UK. (However, fear not we have a bottle to give away – see below.)
The last year or so has seen Dublin bar scene taking off big time. Two in particular are worth checking out. Peruke & Periwig is the new outlet from the guys behind the already highly successful Vintage Cocktail Club. While the downstairs bar is all raucous fun we advise you to head
upstairs. Here you’ll find a room that looks like it belongs to your groovy granny. And a groovy granny who knows how to make a very nice
cocktail at that.
The menu is a literal A- Z of cocktails, kicking off with the Attitude Adjustment and concluding with Zed’s Dead. Created by Robert Caldwell it’s well worth relearning your ABC. We particularly like E for East Meets West (oolong infused Jameson, Antica Formula, Noilly Prat, Bitters). As the name suggests the East of oolong tea makes a significant twist to a Manhattan style drink with delicious consequences.
With its funky looks and original artworks the Damson Diner couldn’t be more different. Presided over by the charming and ever- so slightly bonkers Oisin Davis this place combines good times with highly original drinks. Having fallen in love with cocktails during his time working as a bartender in San Fransisco in the 1990s Oisin is passionate about great drinks. As he explained, a particular passion is infusing. “We have a room here with over 30 infusions. We change them seasonally and leave them for anything for a week to three months. At the moment we have sloe, gooseberry, elderflower – these we serve as spritzers with ice and soda water or prosecco. We also have blackcurrants steeping in Jameson, and crabapple and cranberry with it too. These make amazing sours. In fact the whisky sour is our number one best seller in the bar.”
Another big passion of Oisin’s is rediscovering Irish whiskey
cocktails. Quick to praise the efforts of cocktail historians Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown whose research has unearthed some classic drinks, he describes the pair as “absolute legends”. Going on to talk about Anistatia and Jared’s discoveries he says that, “Looking at the period around 1885 the big whiskey was Jameson, producing about a million gallons a year. And when we look at the main whisky
cocktails and the key cocktails cities of that time, New York, San
Francisco, New Orleans and London we know that the dominate type of whisky would have been Jameson. Although not definitive we can make a pretty solid assumption that the whisky cocktails
being invented then and which we are still enjoying today were
being made with Jameson”.
Having sampled three Jameson-based cocktails from the period we think the word ‘classic’ is more than appropriate here. The
Jameson Whiskey Sour (Jameson Irish Whiskey, sugar, lemon juice and sparkling water), dates from the late 1800s and really lets the whiskey do all the talking.
Meanwhile, The Irish Cocktail (Jameson Irish Whiskey, Pernod Absinthe, curaçao, maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters), which was first recorded in 1880 in Harry Johnson’s Bartenders
Manual, gets a little more complex with every sip. But saving the best for last comes The Tipperary (Jameson Irish Whiskey, chartreuse and Italian vermouth), was named after the song It’s A Long Way To Tipperary and appeared around 1914. It’s a work of art in a glass and is often referred to as the Irish Negroni – that’s good enough for us. Anistatia and Jared deserve huge praise for bringing it back into the limelight and Mr Davis mixes it to perfection.
Win a bottle of the Limited Edition Jameson Irish Whiskey
The limited edition Jameson Irish Whiskey bottle may not be
available in the UK, but we do have a bottle to give away to one very, very lucky person.
To be in with a chance of winning it just answer this question:
Who designed the limited edition Jameson Irish Whiskey bottle?
Send us your answer and your name, along with ‘Jameson
Competition’ in the subject line.
Remember to sign up for our newsletter too. Closing date for entries 7 June 2014. Entrants must be 18 years or over and resident in the United Kingdom or the Irish Republic.
The Jameson Whiskey Sour
1 barspoon granulated sugar
4 dashes freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 splash sparkling water
60ml Jameson Irish Whiskey
Dissolve the sugar with lemon juice and sparkling water in a mixing glass. Add whiskey and fill with ice. Stir well. Strain into a sour glass. Garnish with a cherry.
The Irish Cocktail
60 ml Jameson Irish Whiskey
2 dashes Pernod Absinthe
2 dashes curaçao
1 dash maraschino liqueur
1 dash Angostura bitters
Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a flared orange twist.
1 part Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 part chartreuse
1 part Italian vermouth
Shake well with cracked ice, strain and serve. Garnish with an olive.
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Jameson Select Reserve is available from masterofmalt.com jamesonwhiskey.com