As the pandemic guidelines shift just before Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, many, including myself are still contemplating what the future of big occasions looks like. I have never been one to enjoy crowded events, but I do love an Irish whiskey and a pint of Guinness. This month’s Cocktail Hour is for those, like myself, who will be quietly celebrating without a crowd.
The Hermit is a simple old fashioned with Irish whiskey, bitters, and syrup. The whiskey behind the cocktail is Glendalough Pot Still, and it is the inspiration for the name. The cloaked figure of Saint Kevin graces the bottle’s label. Every time I see St. Kevin, I think of the “hooded man” card in my Wildwood tarot deck.
The hooded man, better known as the hermit in the major arcana, stands cloaked with a staff and lantern in front of a mighty oak tree in the snowy landscape. St. Kevin founded a monastery in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, like a hermit. This particular tarot card shows the need to retreat within oneself for introspection and the answers one seeks.
St. Kevin lived as a hermit and was close to nature. The pandemic has made me more of a hermit, and without physically bartending in a couple of years, I seem to have lost my way. I had the ingredients in my mind for this cocktail, but I kept thinking I needed to add more. However, it dawned on me that an Old Fashioned is really that easy.
Other than Glendalough whiskey, I wanted to keep the cocktail close to nature as St. Kevin was. I chose two brands of bitters, Bennett Bitters and Portland Bitters Project. The Woodland bitters from Portland Bitters Project are made with Douglas Fir tips. I do not find it overly piney, but it gives the flavor profile of the great outdoors. Bennett Exorcism Bitters are made with botanicals used in medieval exorcisms and spiritual ceremonies. They add an extra savory note and gentle spice.
A St. Patrick’s Day cocktail would not be the same if it did not have a little shamrock in it. For the simple syrup portion, I chose to use honey syrup, but you will want to find clover honey. Each petal of a four-leaf clover represents a specific meaning in Irish culture. They stand for faith, hope, love, and of course luck. I use a 1:1 (honey:water) ratio when making my syrups, but if you want a little sweeter go for a 2:1 ratio. I infused fresh sprigs of rosemary into the honey syrup to pair with the mint I found in the whiskey.
So what does a hermit like me do on St. Patrick’s Day? Well, if I am not bartending, I usually make an Irish whiskey cocktail, down a Guinness, and watch Waking Ned Devine. I also make a loaf of soda bread and a dark chocolate Guinness cake.
If The Hermit makes it to your lips this St. Patrick’s Day…Sláinte!
- 2 ounces Glendalough Pot Still Irish Whiskey
- 1 full dropper Woodland Portland Bitters Project
- 5 drops Bennett Exorcism Bitters
- ¼ ounce Rosemary Clover Honey Syrup*
- Rosemary sprig for garnish
- Mixing Glass
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- Bar Spoon
- Martini or Rocks Glass
- Big Cube (optional)
- In a mixing glass add all ingredients with ice and stir.
- Strain with Hawthorne and fine mesh strainers.
- Pour into a glass of choice with or without a big cube and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
- Enjoy responsibly.
*In a medium pot, combine 1 part clover honey and 1 part water. Add a few sprigs of rosemary and stir until thoroughly mixed. Strain into a sterile bottle or jar. Let cool before using for cocktails.
Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...