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An Irish Cocktail With the Taste of Texas

This drink isn't just for St. Patrick's Day.
This drink isn't just for St. Patrick's Day.
Photos by John Kiely

One time I drank a green beer on St. Patrick's Day. Just one time, because the following year my friends and I developed the taste for Guinness Stout, which has a proper Irish look without the food dye.

That didn't last forever, as I eventually gave up beer and made the switch to spirits, for St. Pat's and any other day. It might seem to be congenital, as my Irish-immigrant grandfather William drank Irish whiskey, but my father preferred Scotch, and I took best to tequila and rum. Not until a few years ago did I buy a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey, ostensibly for Irish coffee.

It's easy to see why the whiskey is popular: Jameson has a faint smoky sweetness, a lively burn, and it's uncomplicated. On the flip side, that simplicity prevents Jameson from being much of a cocktail spirit, beyond the mixing of club soda, ginger ale or coffee.

The green bottle languished at the back of the bar for months. Then, during a visit to Central Market, I tasted a sample of Q Ginger Ale. It's a premium ginger ale, with not much sweetness, a good cayenne burn, and the added complexity of cardamom and coriander. It was a little too astringent to my taste.

Never Turn Down a Free Sample

The woman pouring the samples said she mixed Q Ginger Ale with Jameson Irish Whiskey. I was in the process of looking for the best combination of whiskey and ginger ale, so I bought a four-pack.

The lady was so very right. Out of the combinations of bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, Jameson and ten different ginger ales, the Jameson and Q Ginger Ale came out on top. When they're mixed together, the pleasant burn of the whiskey blends with the spices in the ginger ale in a special bit of alchemy. Still, there was that astringency, which needed some kind of citrus acid to cut it.

Lemon and lime juice failed, but I remembered my friend Joseph Conrad, who had toured the Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin. Much to his surprise, he'd been served Jameson with soda and a slice of grapefruit.

This story continues on the next page.  

Only Texas grapefruit works here.
Only Texas grapefruit works here.

It was perfect. Texas Ruby Red grapefruit, which has less bitterness than other grapefruits, added just enough brightness and acid to balance out the drink. It just takes a few drops.

Jameson and Q

1½ ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey 3½ ounces Q Ginger Ale ¼ of a slice of Texas Ruby Red grapefruit

-- Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the Jameson. Pour in the Q Ginger Ale. Squeeze about 6 to 8 drops of grapefruit juice from the slice into the drink, and drop in the slice for garnish.

Even though, as a third-generation Irish person, I can claim dual citizenship, it's clear I'm fully Americanized. The words "magically delicious" kept popping in my head to describe this drink, and I shoved them out with no particular fury. I'm even thinking Jameson and Q isn't a drink for St. Pat's only, but rather all of spring break. Saints and begorrah.


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