Mixology Monday: Irish Wake

O’Malley’s Alley

2 oz Irish Whiskey [Grand Ten]
1/2 oz Blanc Vermouth [Dolin]
1/4 oz Becherovka
1/4 oz Benedictine

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Squeeze lemon peel over drink, garnish with lemon twist.

I write this post with a bit of a heavy heart.  For you see, this is the last ever Mixology Monday.  After taking the reins over 4 years ago, our fearless leader Frederic Yarm has mxmologodeemed it time to end this lovely tradition.  The universe apparently has conspired against him, with waning participation in the last year foreshadowing the final nail in the coffin; the website has locked out Frederic from making any more changes.  Thus, he declared the final theme to be an Irish wake to give MxMo a proper send off.  Specifically, we are tasked with writing about a drink featuring Irish whiskey, to which I solemnly oblige.

In a way, this is good timing, as I recently added Grand Ten Distilling South Boston Irish Whiskey to my bar. Around the same time, I also picked up a bottle of Blanc Vermouth after my friend Dan used it for his Medium Talk in a guest post while I was on vacation. (obviously I had to make the drink myself to properly vet it – needless to say, it’s delicious).  These bottles share a kinship in that they are both versions of things I keep stocked already, but with a softer side.

I thought it would be cool to use these bottles together since they are both milder versions of their cousins.  Grand Ten’s bottle rounds the edges of the usual whiskey flavors.  Malts and a slight burn are still there, but instead of screaming in your face it’s more like screaming into a pillow.  This allows other flavors to peak through, both floral and spicy. The blanc vermouth follows a similar path as it’s not as bitter and winey as its cousins – there is more of a bouquet on display, with hints of vanilla throughout.  For the rest of the drink, the name of the game was complimentary flavors with a little more punch.

Becherovka was the first bottle I grabbed, followed by Benedictine.  Given what I had so far, some cinnamon and warm spices seemed appropriate as they wouldn’t over power the delicate flavors in the whiskey and vermouth.  Plus, using a light hand with these liqueurs gave enough of a foundation to the drink while the other two bottles took center stage.


O’Malley’s Alley has hints of honey and vanilla on the nose.  A slight burn percolates on the sip, both from the whiskey as well as the cinnamon in the Becherovka.  Benedictine wraps everything in a warm blanket, and the body is nice and smooth on the tongue.  The finish has some sweetness in the malts but finishes with a winey dryness.

All you Primus fans out there may recognize the name, as it comes from a line in Tommy the Cat.  While Les Claypool is known for his preternatural bass playing, he’s no slouch in the storytelling department.  This setting where Tommy the cat is known to prowl always caught my ear as an enjoyable bit of word play.  When looking for a name for a drink that has Irish Whiskey, I decided to stroll down the alley myself.

So let’s raise a glass to a tradition that is ending too soon.  But in true Irish Wake fashion, we know it can never truly die.  Its legacy will live on in the archives, instagrams, tweets, and new cocktails inspired by previous MxMo events.  Thanks again to Frederic for keeping it going for this long, and to all who contributed over the years.

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