Craving a drink? Ireland is well known around the world for its premium alcoholic beverages. The Emerald Isle serves every drink you can think of, including Guinness, Bulmers, and Baileys, right to your door.
Of course, the greatest way to experience Irish alcoholic beverages when visiting Ireland is to visit one of the many pubs. Ireland’s pub culture is a significant aspect of daily life. The weekend pub visit is the major adult form of amusement, providing an opportunity for socializing after a long week of work.
What is THE must-try, though? We have cut it down a bit to spare you from a severe hangover even if our initial notion would cover the entire range. Below is a list of the most popular 10 Irish alcoholic beverages. Which is your favourite?
1. Guinness – Ireland’s number-one alcoholic drink
The world’s most famous Irish beer has to be at the top of this list first. If you’ve yet to try it, don’t worry, you’re in the right place! The name “Guinness” comes from the Irish word for “light”, and it’s easy to see why. It tastes like coffee mixed with dark wheat, with a smooth texture and a dark amber colour that perfectly complements its subtle coffee aroma.
Guinness traces its roots back to the 18th century in County Kildare when Arthur Guinness took a £100 inheritance from his godfather and set up his own brewery. After 48 years of brewing only light beer, his son assumed control of the business after his death. Over the years, the craftsmanship and quality of the beer improved significantly. Today, the world’s best-selling spirit is made in more than 50 countries and sells in 120, generating nearly €2 billion a year in Ireland.
If you’re visiting Dublin, visit St James Gate, where you’ll be able to explore the brewery’s rich history in a 7-storey ‘Guinness Wonderland’, and then head upstairs for a pint with the capital at your fingertips.
2. Irish Coffee
On a cold winter evening, after a long day of walking in the rain, you can’t go wrong with an Irish coffee! It’s a hot, potent cocktail that was invented by an Irish chef, Joe Sheridan, in the 1940s. It’s made with black coffee and Irish whiskey mixed with brown sugar, and topped with whipped cream. While it originated in Ireland, it became popular all over the world, particularly in the United States, where it was introduced by writer Stanton Delaplane in the 1930s.
The way to make an Irish coffee can vary a lot. You can make it with various types of coffee or serve it with ice, and you can replace the whiskey with another spirit. The classic way is to pour hot black coffee into a mug, stir the whiskey and brown sugar until it’s dissolved, and then top it with a thick layer of whipped cream.
3. Jameson – The Traditional Irish Whiskey
In the same way that Ireland has established a reputation for its excellent Guinness, it has also become renowned for its whiskey. The Irish whiskey you know and love is probably the one you’re most familiar with Jameson. It’s made from a combination of grain whiskey and a single pot of still whiskey. It’s then malted and then unmalted with locally grown barley, then triple distilled and aged for at least four years. This gives it its signature smooth, slightly sweet, vanilla flavour with woody notes and nutty notes.
It can be enjoyed in any of the following ways: on its own, on ice, or blended into a cocktail. Today, Jameson is Ireland’s number one whiskey export, with annual sales of over 8 million cases in 2021. The original Jameson whiskey was first produced in Dublin by a Scottish lawyer named John James in 1780. Today, there is a wide variety of Jameson available at the brand.
4. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Bailey’s Irish Cream is a beloved liqueur that evokes memories of Christmas. In fact, it is often associated with Christmas and Sunday nights during the winter months. In case you are unfamiliar with the name, Bailey’s Irish Cream is made from neutral alcohol, three-way distilled Irish whiskey and cream sourced from small family-owned farms in the Irish countryside. The base is further enriched with notes of vanilla, cocoa and caramel, resulting in a toffee-like flavour.
This liqueur, invented in Dublin in the 1970s, is still a wholly Irish product and remains one of Ireland’s most renowned brands. It is typically served neat with ice, but can also be blended in a variety of coffee and hot chocolate recipes, as well as a range of cream-infused cocktails.
5. Irish Poitín
Poitín, a traditional Irish spirit, is widely regarded as the progenitor of all distillates in Ireland. It is often referred to as Irish Moonshine. Traditionally, it was made from malted grain, typically barley or wheat, or oats or rye, although other base ingredients such as beet or sugar have been used in the past. In the nineteenth century, many farmers distilled it from potatoes. However, the most effective versions are usually made from grain.
Poitrine is a distinct and potent spirit, with a wide range of aromas and a lasting, warming and slightly spicy finish. It is thought that monks first distilled the spirit in the mid-sixteenth century, and production was largely conducted in pot stills known as pota.
6. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
From the Shed distillery in Drumshanba, Co. Leitrim comes to this exquisitely handcrafted gin made from an exciting blend of selected oriental, locally sourced botanicals and an array of oriental Fresh Citrus and leaves (Gunpowder tea) left to soak in a medieval style still for up to 30 minutes to produce a gin that’s fresh, citrusy, juniper and spicy.
The history of Irish gin dates back to the 17th century when the first distillations were made by the Franciscans to improve medicinal remedies. Who knew it was going to become such a popular spirit?
There are many different types of Irish gin to choose from, from barrel-aged to more complex, from London dry to more botanical and from sole gins, which are made with wild Blackthorn berries for a truly unique flavour.
If you’re looking for a gin to pair with your favourite cocktails, you’ve come to the right place! Try an Irish Gin and tonic, or an Irish Clover Club.
7. Bulmer’s Irish Cider
For centuries, Ireland has been producing cider, with written evidence of apple cultivation dating from the 12th century. It is estimated that cider production has been in progress for at least 2,000 years. Ciders can be made from a wide range of apple varieties, and are produced in a number of regions, although the majority of cider is produced in Armagh and Kilkenny, with Tipperary and Waterford being the main centres of production.
Brands such as Bulmer’s and Magner’s are particularly well-known for their light, fruity beverages. These beverages are ideal for a warm summer afternoon, and there is nothing better than a cup of cold Irish cider to accompany a barbeque meal. In the colder months, these beverages are replaced by a different type of Irish cider: the hot, spiced version, which provides a comforting warmth to combat the chill of winter nights.
8. Tullamore Dew
If you’re looking for an Irish whiskey that’s been around for a long time and is a hit with overseas markets, then you’ve come to the right place. Our top pick is the 12-year-old Tullamore Dew whiskey, which has a hint of spice, malty notes, and woody undertones that give it a soft, rounded taste. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular – it’s right up there with Jameson!
But who’s behind this amazing whiskey? Well, it’s all thanks to Daniel E. Wills, who started out as a stable boy at the distillery and eventually became the owner. He was a real trailblazer, bringing electricity and cars to the area, and he created the whiskey back in 1829, making it the first of its kind.
9. Irish Mist Honey
What is Irish Mist Honey? The Irish Mist Honey liqueur is made by combining Irish whiskey with honey. The Irish Mist Company is based in Dublin and was founded in 1947. They make this liqueur by blending the honey with Irish whiskey and other ingredients. The whiskey is then aged for several months in oak barrels.
The result is a smooth and sweet liqueur. The honey flavour is very rich, and the whiskey adds vanilla and spices to the flavour. Irish Mist Honey is often enjoyed on the rocks or neat, but it’s also great in cocktails. Some of the best Irish Mist Honey cocktails are the Honey Sour or the Irish Coffee.
10. Kilkenny Irish Red Ale
The Irish red ale is a type of beer that has its roots in Ireland, although its exact origin is difficult to determine. Generally, the beers in this category are amber or red in colour and have a moderately malty taste, often with a hint of caramel or toffee. The aromas and flavours are malty, with hints of either caramel or butter, and the finish is crisp and toasty. This style is native to Ireland but is also a popular choice in American breweries. The Irish version is typically less hoppy and sweet than the international varieties.
Kilkenny is a traditional Irish red ale with an off-white head and is made at the legendary Irish Red Ale Brewery. The aroma is delicately fruity with a subtle herbal quality, while the palate is characterized by a more fruity malt and the same herbal character, making it the second most famous beer in Ireland.
We hope you have enjoyed our article about the ‘10 Best Irish Alcoholic Drinks that you have to try!’ Have you tried any of these drinks before? Why not check our guide to Top 13 Late Night Bars in Dublin, so you are prepared for your next trip to Ireland!