I’ll have what she’s having.
If you’re looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in classic Irish style, you may want to serve up some poitín, which is also known as “poteen” or “potcheen” or just plain Irish moonshine. A potent whiskey-like spirit created by an Irish monk in 584 AD, poitín (pronounced po-cheen) is about as close as you can get to the official spirit of Éire. Like Champagne, poitín enjoys Geographical Indicative Status so the real thing can only come from Ireland.
A word of warning, though. This stuff packs a serious punch and can leave you fluthered. In 1661, poitín was outlawed by King Charles because of its potency. It took until 1997 for the elixir to become legal for consumption again—but the law never got in the way of the Irish drinking it for 300 years; they just made it at home.
Traditionally, poitín, which takes its name from the Irish word “pota” or pot, was distilled in small pots using potatoes, malted barley, crab apples, and whatever other ingredients may have been on hand. Today there are a number of Irish distilleries that produce and export poitín. You can read about five of the highest-rated brands here.
Poitín can be enjoyed straight up or used as a cocktail base instead of gin, tequila, vodka, or whiskey. For St. Patrick’s Day, try an Eirey Faerie, a delicious and festive cocktail made with poitín, Benedictine, lemon juice, and mint.
Poitín may be purchased at specialty liquor stores or online at Drink Up NY, The Drink Shop or The Whisky Exchange. Or you can do what the Irish used to do—follow this recipe and brew up a batch of your own.
Click here for more St. Patrick’s Day party ideas, here to learn how to make Irish chef Kevin Dundon’s famous Irish Èclairs, and here for more cocktail and spirits stories.
St. Patrick’s Day: Poitín
Welcome Photo and Quote Mashup
Welcome photo: Mia Farrow
Welcome quote: When Harry Met Sally, 1989