Recipe Review

Warm Up to St. Patrick’s With an Irish Whiskey Skin

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Nora Maynard)

During these brisk/balmy, lion/lamb days of March, the turn of season alternately calls for something light and fresh – and also with a hint of warmth.

Mellower than Irish Coffee, and good for whatever ails you, the Irish Whiskey Skin is a bright and zesty pick for St. Patrick’s Day.

You can spot a Whiskey Skin from across the room, thanks to its very distinctive garnish: a long, ribbon-like strip of lemon peel. An old-time Irish cousin of the Hot Toddy, the Whiskey Skin is a smooth blend of rich, flavorful whiskey, lemon rind, and hot water (with a little sugar mixed in if you should so choose).

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I came across this recipe while looking through The Merchant Hotel Bar Book (an import from Belfast – and the same source as the Hot Rum Cow), which in turn directed me to that old-time classic, The Bon Vivant’s Companion (updated as


by David Wondrich) as an original source.

But as a long-time fan of the Hot Toddy, I was a little skeptical – this Whiskey Skin sounded too watery. A Toddy without the astringency of tea – and the soothing sweetness of honey? Could a strip of fresh lemon peel really work as a sub-in for lemon juice? The answer turned out to be Yes.

While both recipes I consulted recommended the Irish whiskey Redbreast 12 year, David Wondrich also suggested something on the Scottish side: a smoky, peaty

Islay malt

Irish Whiskey Skin

Makes 1 serving

1 1/2 ounces flavorful Irish Whiskey (Redbreast 12 year or Connemara are good choices, or if you want to go Scottish, an

Islay malt

1 cup boiling water

Lemon rind, peeled in a long, thin strip (instructions

Demerara sugar or cane syrup (optional – I left the sweetener out)

While the water’s boiling, pour the whiskey and prepare a strip of lemon rind, draping it over the side of the mug. Add sugar if desired. Pour in the hot water and stir gently. Sláinte!

(Adapted from The Merchant Hotel Bar Book volume 2 by Sean James Muldoon and Imbibe! by David Wondrich)

Are planning any special drinks for St. Patrick’s Day?

Related: The Trouble With Irish Whiskey (and James Joyce Cocktails)

(Images: Nora Maynard)