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Irish Whiskey a Go-Go



There will no doubt be a disagreement this week about what the better man drinks, Jameson or Bushmills. It's a timeless argument that merits some attention in honor of St. Patrick's Day. To wit, it is rare that a Jameson drinker will toss back a Bushmills and I have never seen a Bushmills connoisseur toast with a Jameson. Grey Goose drinkers will drink Ketel One, and Crown Royal drinkers will drink Pendleton, but the Irish whiskey drinker always stays true to his brand.

Supposedly, it is because Bushmills is a Protestant whiskey; the company sits in the heart of Northern Ireland and was first licensed by King James I, making it perhaps the oldest commercial distillery in the world. By way of contrast, The Jameson distillery sits in the south of Ireland in the heart of Catholic country. However, it has never been licensed by the Pope. So perhaps the religious argument loses some credence.

Interestingly though, neither Jameson nor Bushmills can lay claim to the title of best-selling Irish whiskey in Ireland. That honor belongs to the little-known Powers distillery. Moreover, the average Irishman wouldn't have a clue what you are talking about if you were to inform him of this Jameson/Bushmills controversy.

Consider that America is the grand mixing pot. Yet the arrival of Irish whiskey afforded another way of shoving ourselves into castes. Honestly, it should be a moot point. Both distilleries are owned by gigantic corporations - Bushmills by the largest liquor company in the world, the English-based Diageo, and Jameson by the second largest liquor company in the world, the French-based Pernod Ricard.

Regardless of which Irish whiskey suits your taste or politics, everyone can agree upon a good Irish coffee. Most likely, the Irish coffee was invented in the 1940s by Joseph Sheridan, the chef at Foynes in the Shannon Airport in Dublin. The story goes that when Joe was asked to make a warm drink for a group of cold passengers from a Pan Am flying boat, he put some good Irish whiskey into their coffee. A guest approached the chef and thanked him for the brilliant coffee and asked Joe if he used Brazilian coffee. Joe smiled and jokingly answered, "No, that was Irish coffee!"

Irish Coffee (The Sheridan Recipe)

Warm a stemmed whiskey goblet

Add two ounces of Irish whiskey

Add a teaspoon of brown sugar

Fill with good black coffee

Top with lightly aerated heavy whipping cream

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