Sip Trips #77: Whiskey in the Jar (Part 1)

Mrs. Sip and I have returned from our adventures in Ireland and what a trip it was, full of wonderful food, drink and experiences. Today, I’ll share part one of the vacation with all you little sippers, so buckle up for a tour around the Emerald Isle!

Upon arriving, Mrs. Sip and members of the Sip Syndicate picked me up from the airport, having touched down a few hours before me. We were off to the small village of Robinstown, where after checking into our accommodation, we made the five-minute jaunt to the local bar, Ryan’s of Robinstown. There, we dove into pints of Smithwick’s Irish Ale and Guinness Stout (of course) and tried to stay awake so we could align our body clocks with the new time zone. This is where I learned quickly that many Irish beers that would be available on tap are much lighter than I’m accustomed to at home.

irish-beer-odouls

The next day, we were en route to Galway, but stopped in Athlone to have a pint at Sean’s Bar. What made this layover so significant? Sean’s Bar has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest pub in Ireland, Europe and even the world – providing something else doesn’t come along disproving this claim. Here, I ordered a pint of one of the pub’s own brews, the Iuain’s Red Ale. Before leaving Athlone, we decided to grab lunch at the nearby Murphy’s Law pub, which had a diverse menu of both food and drink. To accompany my club sandwich, I drank the Murphy’s Red Ale, which I found to be a really good beer with a nice creamy finish.

Once we arrived in Galway, we promptly picked up beer and other provisions. The craft beers I grabbed included the Buried at Sea Chocolate Milk Stout, O’Hara’s Dry Hopped Irish Pale Ale, Curim Celtic Wheat Beer, and Galway Bay Full Sail Dry Hopped Irish Pale Ale. I also snagged a bag of Roast Beef and Irish Stout chips to snack on. That evening, we explored Shop Street, ending up at the King’s Head Pub, which featured live music with cover songs by a one man guitarist, who nailed his Johnny Cash impression. My libation of choice was the Smithwick’s Pale Ale. The next night, we returned to Shop Street to celebrate my recent birthday. Our base on this evening was Taaffes Pub, where numerous brews were consumed, as well as my first Jameson on Irish soil and a Baby Guinness shot (Kahlua and Bailey’s), courtesy of Mrs. Sip.

irish-meal

Our next accommodation was in Killarney, but along the way, we popped into Limerick and visited The Locke, another “oldest pub in the city” occasion. The bar had a decent craft beer lineup, of which I selected the Black Lightning Black IPA from 9 White Deer Brewery. It paired nicely with my absolutely delicious fried chicken burger. Mrs. Sip ordered a carafe of wine for herself and fell in love with their seafood chowder, which was a hit with our entire table.

Arriving in Killarney, we had trouble finding a place to eat, given most locations closed early. We ended up at The Smoke House, which was a very fortunate accident, as we each had a good meal. I also enjoyed a pint of the Killarney Brewing Company’s Scarlet Pimpernel Irish Pale Ale here. After dinner, we visited Courtney’s Bar, which provided an opportunity to try Crean’s Lager, which Cousin Sip and her husband had raved about. I didn’t really have the same experience, but it was a solid beverage.

irish-toast

With our crew getting a little worn out, most elected to stay in Killarney, while Mrs. Sip and I ventured out, taking our lives into our own hands on the narrow, curvy roads of the countryside (and all while driving on the opposite side of the car and road for my first time ever). Our first stop of the self-guided route was Blarney Castle, where we both went upside down and kissed its infamous stone. While popping into their tea house, I purchased a can of Guinness because when will I ever drink a beer on castle grounds again!?

Moving on, we made our way to Midleton for the Jameson Experience. I had hoped to hit this attraction later in Dublin, but that spot is closed for renovations for the next six months. Thankfully, this opportunity came up as the grounds and tour was amazing, filled with so much history. The Sip Advisor was even included among eight volunteers who got to do an Irish, Scottish and American whiskey cross comparison. The tour concluded with a cocktail (Jameson, ginger ale and lime) which was really good and may have even turned Mrs. Sip back onto whiskey. After chatting with some fellow tourists, I was encouraged to buy a bottle of Jameson Distillery Reserve, which is only available at the distillery and nowhere else in the world.

That wraps up part one of our journey to Ireland. Tomorrow, we arrive in the Irish capital of Dublin for more debaucherous activity!

Ireland – Blarney Stone

Luck of the Irish

Bouncing around Europe to make sure the Sip Advisor ended up in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day was a must. Of course, the day celebrates the death of and feast for Saint Patrick. But what do we really know about this patron saint of boozing and his namesake holiday? Luckily for you, my little sippers, I’m here to educate!:

Don't Have to be Irish

Saint Patrick has become a symbol of national identity for the Irish, despite being born in England. He is credited with using the shamrock as a teaching tool and figure for the holy trinity (the father, the son, and the holy spirit… had he plucked a four-leaf varietal, would he have had to make up a fourth element for the concept?). Despite common belief, Ireland’s national symbol is actually the harp, not the shamrock. Mmmm, it gets me thinking of Harp Lager, which is my favourite Irish brewing import.

Patrick worked his way across Ireland setting up monasteries, churches, and schools to help with his converting and was arrested many times by the Celtic Druids (a wicked name for a rock band), managing to escape their capture every time. His inclusion of native Irish rituals helped in bringing people over to Christianity. Patrick is credited with creating the Celtic Cross, by adding an image of the sun (an important Irish symbol) to the Christian cross.

As with most saints, Patrick has been recognized for performing a number of miracles during his life. Those phenomenal feats include driving snakes out of the country, although most scientists believe there were never any serpents in Ireland to begin with. The term serpents could have had more to do with converting paganism followers to Christianity and exiling those who did not wish to jump ship. Legends also state that Patrick was able to raise the dead.

Ireland Snakes

While wearing green is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition, Saint Patrick’s garments were actually blue. I have so much more blue in my wardrobe (it accentuates my eyes!), so I kind of wish we would celebrate March 17 with some historical accuracy. Other traditions for the day include kissing the blarney stone, which for Mrs. Sip and I means going to the local pub of that name and getting drunk enough that your face meets the floor.

The leap year tradition of women proposing to men has also been attributed to Patrick. The account states that when Saint Bridget complained of women waiting too long for men to propose (hey, we’re just enjoying what’s left of our freedom!) Patrick made this little alteration to courtship guidelines. Bridget tried to propose to Patrick, but the wise missionary turned her down.

St. Patrick’s Day is known as one of the booziest days of the year and it was no different in Patrick’s time. He is said to have endorsed drinking on his feast day, stating that everyone should have “a drop of the hard stuff.” Along these lines, it is customary to drop the shamrock you’ve worn on St. Patrick’s Day in your last drink of the evening, thereby ‘drowning the shamrock’.

st-patricks-day-dd

Everyone seems to get in on the St. Patrick’s Day act from the Chicago River in the United States being died green (although that might just be all the people expelling their green beverages) to the Canadian province of Newfoundland celebrating a provincial holiday… I really wish that this would spread across the entire country, rather than the French language. The day is also celebrated in Argentina, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, and other locales around the globe.

And earth’s atmosphere apparently can’t contain the festiveness. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been known to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day, including American Catherine Coleman playing instruments belonging to Irish musicians The Chieftains and Canadian Chris Hadfield taking photos of Ireland while in orbit and donning green for a rendition of Danny Boy.

File this under the ‘say it ain’t so’ category: From 1903 to 1970, St. Patrick’s Day was a religious observation, which equated to all pubs being shut down each year on March 17. When that law was overturned and the day was recognized as a national holiday, the booze was back. Thank god (or Saint Patrick) we remedied that!

Ireland: Blarney Stone

Blarney Stone Drink Recipe

  • 2 oz Irish Whiskey
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

So, raise your glass (whatever it is, it better be green) and join me in reciting this great toast: “May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead!”

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink is great. It combines three of my favourite ingredients: Whiskey, Ginger Ale, and Lime Juice. The taste is light and refreshing and thanks to the two ounces of booze, you can get pretty trashed just like Saint Patrick would have wanted!