Outside of an Irish coffee, Irish whiskey has never really found its breakout classic cocktail that patrons might flock to, like the popularity of a Negroni for Campari or a margarita for tequila. Far more than just a shot of Jameson or Bushmills, a taste of some of the higher-quality single-malt, pot-still Irish whiskies shows that this spirit — though often more subtle in style — can easily compete with the flavor of a great scotch and appeal to American whiskey fans. Using it in cocktails, however, requires a bit more nuance.

For acclaimed bartender Joaquín Simó, Irish whiskey can be an incredibly versatile spirit, whether it be stirred and spirit-forward, or even used in a citrusy summer drink. At his NYC bar Pouring Ribbons, he lightly frames the Knappogue Castle 12-year single malt with herbal liqueurs and honey for his Emerald Old Fashioned. Green Chartreuse, Dolin Génépy and honey add a unique spectrum of botanicals, along with a mint garnish, which both stand clear of the distinct malted barley flavor of the whiskey.

With other whiskies — such as the spiciness of a rye, the oak and sweet nose of bourbon or the smoke of a heated scotch — the elements easily stand out in a cocktail. For Irish whiskey, pulling out the honey and grain flavors inherently found in the spirit with just the right balance requires a bit more attention, but with a great payoff in the end. Spirits like Knappogue’s 12-year —or also their 14-year expression, which is decidedly woodier than the 12-year due to its use of both Bourbon and Oloroso casks — can make for an incredible drink and a good reason for why ordering an Irish whiskey cocktail should be less of an anomaly. One sip of this Old Fashioned would convince anyone. Enjoy.

Emerald Old-Fashioned

Servings: 1 cocktail
2 ounces Knappogue Castle 12 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey
1 teaspoon honey syrup (2 parts honey: 1 part water)
1 teaspoon Green Chartreuse
1 teaspoon Dolin Genepy des Alps
  1. Build all ingredients into a chilled rocks glass.
  2. Add ice and stir briskly until chilled and combined.
  3. Garnish with mint sprig, spanked and inserted.
Prep time: 2 minutes
Difficulty: Easy