It's a given that beer goes great with pizza, and if you're seeking a softer sip you can't go wrong with an icy fountain soda. Just back from a trip to Ireland, I couldn't help wonder how well Irish whiskey would work on pizza night. An ice-filled glass, some Jameson Irish Whiskey splashed with ginger ale and I was well on my way to finding out.
Jameson and Ginger is a well-loved easygoing mixed drink. My best friend Vanessa has always drank Jameson on the rocks. Though I never quite fancied myself an Irish whiskey girl. Even though my full name is Maureen Margaret Mary, I always preferred bourbon right from our home turf. I understand whiskey can be tough to swallow if you are a die-hard beer lover or a large format white wine kinda gal, but Irish whiskey is the perfect place to whet your whistle, and apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Right now the U.S. is the largest export market for Irish whiskey, with sales doubling in the last five years. Whiskey love continues to grow worldwide and in our bars and backyards more and more Americans are loving the stuff, straight up or mixed. Yes, I said mixed. After a tour at Old Jameson, myself and 11 other journalist were ushered into a tasting room. Whiskey was indeed poured, not neat but in pint glasses filled with ice and your choice of ginger ale, Sprite or cranberry. Say what? This is at the distillery! Indeed a few of my fellow whiskey connoisseurs scoffed at the idea of whiskey cocktails but I couldn't have been happier. I mean a little ice and a mixer soften the blow of a serious 80 proof spirit, especially if it's your first sip of the day.
Ginger ale was my gateway mixer. It let me learn to love Irish whiskey slowly, on my terms. Now I find myself pouring much less ginger to whiskey, and prefer the artisanal gingers that aren't as effervescent or sickly sweet as some sodas. They deliver a much fresher spice of ginger to my Irish spirits and let the whiskey shine.
The entire category of whiskey is exploding across the country, including Bourbon and Tennessee as well as Japanese and even white whiskeys. That's why for this week's 10- Minute Happy Hour the Jameson and Ginger cocktail is the perfect pick. Order a pizza and mix up one of these adult-style fountain sodas and get started on your whiskey trail.
Jameson and Ginger Cocktail Recipe
Makes 1 drink
Jameson Irish Whiskey
ginger ale, such as Q Ginger or Fever Tree Ginger Ale
Lime wedge or crystallized ginger, to garnish, optional
In a glass filled with ice, add the Irish Whiskey and top with ginger ale.
Garnish with a lime wedge or a slice of crystallized ginger.
Typically this cocktail is served with a lime wedge. When pairing with pizza I prefer it sans lime. If you want your drink a little spicier add some crystallized ginger as a garnish.
Maureen C. Petrosky writes what she knows, food, booze and parties. Author of The Wine Club, she appears regularly on The TODAY show to share her vices (and advice) with the world. For more info check out www.maureenpetrosky.com or follow her on Twitter @maureenpetrosky.
(Images: Maureen Petrosky)