This St. Patrick’s Day, try these 6 bold twists on classic whiskey cocktails

Coffee with Irish whiskey and whipped cream in glass on rustic wooden surface

Try a new spin on a traditional Irish coffee.

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Ah, Saint Patrick’s Day. The one day of the year where they say everyone feels a wee bit Irish.

By now, you’ve likely heard the stories and seen the recipes for the classic Irish coffee, not to mention plenty of riffs on the famous drink. So we decided to mix things up a bit. We’ve compiled a collection of cocktails that boldly deliver coffee flavors, but don’t necessarily feature Irish whiskey.

Don’t worry, though. If you typically seek out an Irish coffee more for the whiskey than the coffee, we’ve wrangled up a few libations that smack of Ireland’s celebrated tipple, too.

And if you love the idea of a warming Irish cocktail but you’re not a coffee drinker, we even found a simple — but delicious — recipe that pairs Earl Grey with a new spirit from Tullamore D.E.W.

No matter which potation you choose, you’re certain to feel a bit luckier with one of these drinks in hand. So, as they say in the Emerald Isle, Slainte!

The Spanish Coffee

“Like an Irish Coffee, the cream on top really gives this a silky texture and a richness,” bartender Anders Erickson says of this cocktail. “It’s almost like a dessert.” But the drink is also a showstopper, because during its creation, the booze is set on fire. Don’t worry, we’ll explain. First, the ingredients and the preparation method: 

-3/4 oz. Hamilton 151 Demerara Overproof Rum
-1 oz. St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur
-1/2 oz. Marie Brizard Orange Curaçao     
-2 to 3 oz. hot coffee
-Heavy cream

Rim a tall glass coffee mug (Erickson uses a Georgian style coffee glass) with sugar, then add the rum. Carefully set the rum on fire (Erickson first lights the tip of a long toothpick on fire then lowers it near the surface of the rum). As the rum is burning, pour a few ounces of heavy cream into a cocktail shaker, and give a quick shake to thicken it some. Being careful to not touch the rim of the glass, you may want to gently rotate the glass to evenly disperse the heat.

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Once the sugar on the side of the rim begins to bubble, it is properly caramelized. You’ll now want to extinguish the flame, which you can do by lowering the cocktail shaker (bottom end facing down) over the glass until the source of oxygen is cut off. Be careful not to touch the glass as it will be incredibly hot.

Next, add the coffee liqueur, the orange curacao, and the hot coffee; then float the cream across the top of the drink by gently pouring it over the back of a spoon positioned near the surface of the drink. Finally, garnish with some grated nutmeg.

“Be careful,” Erickson says, “because fire is dangerous. But fire is also fun and this drink is quite tasty!”

Scotch Coffee

“If you like anything that’s a little bit smoky, I think you’re going to love this,” says Greg Titian, the host of How to Drink, a YouTube channel dedicated to cocktails. “It’s like barbecue because it’s sweet and smoky, but you still get such a strong roast flavor profile.”

-1 oz. Scotch (Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend is preferred)
-2 oz. Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur
-0.5 oz. simple syrup
-2 to 4 dashes of Angostura Cocoa Bitters
-Half-and-Half or heavy cream (optional)

In a rocks glass (or even an enameled coffee mug, if you prefer), add one large ice cube, then combine all other ingredients, minus the dairy, giving it a final stir. If you want to add half-and-half or heavy cream, top off the cocktail with the desired amount.

“The heavy cream thins out the flavor profile so that it doesn’t punch you right in the face so hard off that first sip,” Titian explains. “It lengthens the evolution of the cocktail and gives you time to appreciate each note in it. It makes the whole thing a little more decadent.”

Iron Night Cap

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If you’re looking for a complex coffee cocktail, the Iron Night Cap — a Greg Titian original creation — is right up your alley. “There are so many different notes in there,” he explains. “It’s so round and evolved. The coffee comes in and rides that sweetness out from the sugar and chocolate. The rye is just an appropriate way to back this thing up with a little bit of proof.”

-1 oz. rye whiskey
-1.5 oz. Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur
-0.5 oz. simple syrup
-0.5 oz. sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula, preferably)
-0.25 oz. crème de cacao (Tempus Fugit, preferably)

In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients with ice and stir well. Then strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with maraschino cherries.

Tipperary Cocktail

As the story goes, the Tipperary Cocktail was a drink created by bartender Hugo Ensslin in 1916 in … wait for it … Manhattan. So while Irish in inspiration — the libation is named after a town and county in Ireland — it is classically American in its origin.  

-2 oz. Irish whiskey (Redbreast 12 year is preferred)
-0.5 oz. Sweet Vermouth (Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Rouge is preferred)
-0.25 oz. Green Chartreuse
-2 dashes Angostura bitters

In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients with ice and stir well. Then strain into a chilled coupe glass and squeeze a spritz of lemon oil across the top.

“It drinks like a medicinal Manhattan,” says Erickson. “It’s really nice and balanced. The whiskey is there, but it’s not a spicy whiskey, and the Chartreuse comes in at the end.”

The Lucky Stone

“It’s a little higher proof than most other blended Irish whiskies,” Erickson says of the Powers Gold Label that he uses for this drink. “A lot of other Irish whiskies are really smooth and soft and they can get lost in a drink. I want to taste the whiskey and this is going to hold up in this cocktail.”

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-1.5 oz. Irish whiskey (Powers Gold Label is preferred)
-1 oz. Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos Sherry
-1/2 oz. Giffard Abricot du Roussillon
-2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
-Lemon zest and cocktail cherry for garnish

In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients with ice and stir well. Then strain into a chilled coupe glass and squeeze a spritz of lemon oil across the top.

“You get the Irish whiskey up front,” Erickson explains, “you get this nice sweetness from the apricot liqueur that’s slightly perfumey — but in a good way — and then you get this nutty, dry finish with the sherry. It’s a cocktail for everyone.”

Earl Grey Hot Toddy

“This simple but satisfying hot toddy is citrus driven,” says Clodagh Mai O’Callaghan, Tullamore D.E.W.’s U.S. ambassador, “with the unique flavor of the classic Earl Grey tea rounded out by the nutty and caramelized flavor of Tullamore D.E.W. Honey.”

-2 oz. Tullamore D.E.W Honey
-1 oz. lemon juice
-4 oz. hot water
-1 Earl Grey teabag

In a mug, let the teabag steep in the hot water for several minutes. When tea reaches the desired strength, remove the tea bag, then add the Tullamore D.E.W. Honey and lemon juice. Stir to combine and garnish with a lemon wedge. 

“St. Patrick’s Day occurs in the spring,” O’Callaghan explains, “so a tea-infused cocktail with the sweet flavors of Tully Honey is much more fitting for seasonal celebrations. Plus, it offers drinkers who dislike the bitter taste of coffee a refreshing alternative.”

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