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.
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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.
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SHOW ME HOW
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.