Pregame for St. Paddy's Day with the Irish Blonde Cocktail

With less than a week to go until Saint Patrick's Day, it's time to start taste-tasting mixed drinks so on the day-of, you can mask your alcoholism with sophisticated cocktail selections. You're not fooling anyone if you belly up to the bar and request an Irish Car Bomb, nor will you turn any heads ordering endless pints of Guinness (though that's not to say you won't enjoy yourself).

At St. Patrick's Day parties I've hosted in years past, I have offered a range of shamrock-themed drinks, from the saccharine "Irish Pride" (crème de menthe, amaretto, lemon juice) to the heavy-handed "Irish Martini" (dry vermouth, vodka, irish whiskey), which had one guest (okay, me) singing ballads off a balcony.

This St. Patrick's Day I'll be at an academic conference, and I've already staked out some nearby pubs where I'll have a good shot at being able to order my newest St. Paddy's libation obsession: the Irish Blonde.

Irish Blonde Cocktail

2 oz Michael Collins Blended Irish whiskey 3/4 orange curaçao 1/4 oz fino sherry

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass. Garnish with orange peel.

To truly do this cocktail justice, honor the specified ingredients. You might be able to get away with replacing the fino with another very dry sherry, but for the love of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Ireland, don't use anything but Michael Collins Blended Whiskey. I hate to be a brand whore, but MCBW has this terrific, peaty-sweet, smooth flavor unique among fermented mash beverages. In combination with the crisp sherry, MCBW tones down the harsher vodka and gives the Irish Blonde an apple-citrus flavor.

Not to mention using any other whiskey is a huge slap in the face to the most badass Irishman in history (no, punks, it's not Éamon De Valera). And I really don't think you want to slap even a deceased Michael Collins in the face. Save such behavior for your own personal version of Real Housewives: Belfast.

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