Irish Drinks, Beers, Cocktails, Shots and Whiskeys to try on St. Patrick’s Day

Popular Irish Beers, Liquors and Cocktails

If you’re looking to wet your whistle with some of the best drinks Ireland has to offer, then you’ve come to the right place. Drinking is practically a national pastime in Ireland, and the Irish are famous for their love of all things boozy. From whiskey to beer to some seriously weird concoctions, the Emerald Isle has a drink for every occasion. But where do you start? Fear not, as we’ve rounded up the most popular and unique Irish drinks that you simply must try on St. Patrick’s Day (or any other day of the year). So pull up a stool, pour yourself a pint, and join us as we explore the world of traditional Irish drinks.

Irish Coffee:

Irish coffee is a popular coffee cocktail that originated in Ireland. It is typically made by mixing hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and heavy cream. The drink is believed to have been invented by a bartender at Shannon Airport in Ireland in the 1940s, as a way to warm up travelers on a cold, damp evening. The original recipe included Irish whiskey, hot coffee, and sugar, topped with lightly whipped cream. The creamy texture and sweet taste of the whipped cream complements the strong, smooth taste of the coffee and whiskey. 

San Francisco actually has a very strong connection to the Irish Coffee. The Buena Vista, located in Fisherman’s Wharf, was the first bar to introduce the popular Irish drink to America. The drink was brought to the Buena Vista in 1952 by travel writer Stanton Delaplane, who had tasted the concoction at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Delaplane worked with the Buena Vista’s owner, Jack Koeppler, to perfect the recipe, which includes hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and a layer of whipped cream on top. The Buena Vista has been serving Irish Coffees to tourists and locals alike for over 70 years, and the drink remains one of the bar’s most popular offerings. 


Nothing says “St. Patrick’s Day” like a tall glass of Guinness. 

Guinness is an Irish dry stout that was first brewed in Dublin, Ireland in 1759 by Arthur Guinness. It is made from water, barley, hops, and yeast and is known for its distinctive dark color and creamy white head. The brewing process involves roasting the barley to give it a dark color and unique flavor. The beer is then fermented and aged to allow the flavors to develop. To serve a pint of Guinness, the bartender first pours the beer into a glass until it is three-quarters full, then waits for the beer to settle before topping it off with the final pour. This settling process is known as the “two-part pour” and creates the characteristic creamy head on top of the beer. Guinness is now one of the most popular beers in the world, enjoyed by beer lovers for its unique flavor and smooth texture.

Baileys Irish Cream: 

Baileys Irish Cream is a liqueur made in Ireland. It was invented in 1974 by a team led by Tom Jago, who was tasked with creating a new product for the Gilbeys of Ireland spirits company. The liqueur is made from a blend of Irish whiskey and cream, with other ingredients including cocoa, vanilla, and sugar. The cream used in Baileys is sourced from around 40,000 cows in 1,500 family-owned farms across Ireland, and the whiskey used is triple-distilled, which is characteristic of Irish whiskey. The ingredients are mixed together and homogenized to create the smooth, creamy texture for which Baileys is known. The liqueur can be enjoyed on its own or mixed in cocktails, coffee or hot chocolate. It is also a key component in popular cocktails and shots like the mudslide, B-52 and the Irish Car Bomb.

Black and Tan: 

A Black and Tan is a popular drink made by layering two different types of beer in a glass. Typically, a stout like Guinness is layered on top of a pale ale or lager. The drink is believed to have originated in Ireland, where it was popularized in the early 20th century. The name “Black and Tan” is derived from the colors of the two beers used in the drink, with the darker stout layered on top of the lighter beer.

To make a Black and Tan, you will need a special spoon called a Black and Tan spoon (or if you want the official spoon, it is called the Guinness Toucan Pouring Spoon), which has a bent shape that allows the beer to be poured gently onto the surface of the other beer. Begin by pouring the pale ale or lager into a glass until it is about halfway full. Then, place the spoon over the top of the glass, with the curve facing upwards. Slowly pour the Guinness over the back of the spoon, allowing it to trickle down onto the surface of the lighter beer. The two beers will remain separate, creating a distinctive layered effect. The combination of the two beers tastes great and it looks super cool as well.


Smithwick’s is a red ale that is often associated with Ireland, and is brewed by the Kilkenny-based company of the same name. The beer is named after John Smithwick, who founded the brewery in 1710. It is brewed using water from an ancient well beneath the brewery, along with a unique combination of malted barley, hops, and yeast. Smithwick’s has a distinctive reddish-brown color, and is known for its smooth, creamy taste with hints of caramel and malt. It is often enjoyed alongside traditional Irish fare such as beef stew or fish and chips. The beer is popular both in Ireland and abroad, and has won numerous awards for its quality and taste.


Magner’s Cider, also known as Bulmers in Ireland, is a popular brand of Irish cider. The drink was invented in 1935 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland, by William Magner. The cider is made from 17 varieties of apples, including Dabinett, Michelin and Yarlington Mill, which are grown in orchards across Ireland and the UK. The fresh apples are pressed, and the juice is fermented in oak barrels for up to two years to create a dry, crisp taste. The cider has an alcohol content of around 4.5% to 5.5%.

Harp Lager: 

Harp Lager is a pale lager beer that was first brewed in 1960 by the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland. The beer is named after the Celtic symbol of the harp, which is also the national symbol of Ireland. The beer is made with the finest malted barley and hops, and is brewed using a traditional brewing process, resulting in a smooth and crisp taste, with a balance of sweet and bitter flavors. 

Black Velvet – 

While not technically created in Ireland, the Black Velvet uses Ireland’s famous Guinness beer and is a poular drink among the Irish. The Black Velvet is a simple yet classic cocktail that was allegedly invented in 1861 at the Brooks’s Club in London to mourn the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. The drink was created to symbolize the black armbands worn by mourners and the bubbly nature of the champagne represents the white cuffs of the mourning clothes.

To make a Black Velvet, simply fill a champagne flute halfway with chilled Guinness stout and then fill the remaining half with chilled champagne or sparkling wine. The combination of the dark stout and the light, effervescent champagne creates a unique flavor and texture, making it a great option for a special occasion or celebration.

Murphy’s Irish Stout:

Murphy’s Irish Stout is a rich and creamy dark beer that was first brewed in Cork, Ireland in 1856 by James J. Murphy. The beer is made using a combination of roasted barley, hops, and water, which is then fermented using a unique strain of yeast, which gives it a smooth and velvety texture with a subtle sweetness and hints of chocolate and coffee. Murphy’s Irish Stout is often compared to the more famous Guinness Stout, but it has a distinctive flavor all its own. It is best enjoyed cold, and is often paired with hearty Irish dishes such as beef stew and shepherd’s pie.

Baby Guinness: 

The Baby Guinness shot is a popular layered shot that resembles a tiny pint of Guinness. It is said to have originated in Ireland, but its exact origins are unclear. The shot typically consists of a bottom layer of coffee liqueur, such as Kahlúa or Tia Maria, and a top layer of Irish cream, such as Bailey’s. The shot is served in a shot glass and is meant to be consumed in one gulp. The coffee liqueur gives the shot a rich, coffee-like flavor, while the Irish cream adds a smooth, creamy finish. The Baby Guinness shot is a popular choice for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and other festive occasions.


Poitin, also known as “Irish moonshine,” is a traditional Irish spirit that dates back to the 6th century. It is a clear, unaged, and highly alcoholic distilled beverage made from grains, potatoes, or malted barley. Poitin was outlawed for centuries and had a reputation for being a potent, illegal drink that was brewed in secret. However, in recent years, it has become more popular and is now a legal product. The taste of poitin is similar to other clear spirits, like vodka or gin, but with a distinct Irish twist. It can be consumed neat or used as a base for cocktails. This liquor has a very high alcohol content, so keep that in mind if you try it. 

Dingle Gin: 

While most people associate whiskey with Ireland, they have a large variety of other local spirits. Dingle Gin is a handcrafted gin made in small batches by the Dingle Distillery in the coastal town of Dingle, Ireland. The gin is made using a combination of locally-sourced and imported botanicals, including rowan berry, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn, and heather, as well as more traditional ingredients like juniper berries and coriander seed. Dingle Gin has a distinctive taste, with a fresh, citrusy flavor and floral notes that complement the more traditional gin flavors. The distillery uses a copper pot still to create the gin, which is then bottled at 42.5% ABV. Dingle Gin has won numerous awards for its high quality and unique flavor profile, and has become a popular choice for gin lovers both in Ireland and around the world.

Irish Whiskey

It would hardly be appropriate to write about popular Irish drinks without talking about whiskey. If you are looking for a whiskey that’s smooth, flavorful and steeped in history? Look no further than Irish whiskey. This delicious spirit has been a favorite for centuries, offering complex flavors and unique blends that are sure to please even the most discerning palate. From popular Irish whiskies like Jameson to rare and expensive blends that are sure to impress, there’s something for everyone in the world of Irish whiskey. Next, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of Irish whiskey, exploring the history of this beloved spirit, the most popular Irish whiskies, and some of the most expensive and rare blends on the market. So, sit back, pour yourself a dram, and get ready to learn all about one of the world’s most beloved spirits.

What is Irish Whiskey?

There’s a certain magic to a good whiskey. The warm, smooth taste that spreads from the first sip to the last. And when it comes to whiskey, no one does it quite like the Irish. From the rolling green hills of County Cork to the bustling streets of Dublin, Ireland has been producing some of the world’s finest whiskey for centuries. Whether you’re a seasoned whiskey drinker or a newcomer to the game, Irish whiskey is something to be savored and appreciated. Listed below are some of the unique characteristics that distinguish Irish Whiskey it from other types of whiskey. 

Most are Triple Distilled: Irish whiskey is typically distilled three times, which results in a smoother, more refined taste. Distilling is the process of purifying a liquid by heating and cooling it to separate the different components based on their boiling points. In the context of whiskey, distilling involves heating a fermented mixture of grain, water, and yeast in a still, which separates the alcohol from the rest of the mixture. The alcohol vaporizes and then condenses back into a liquid form, resulting in a stronger, purer spirit. This process is typically done in multiple stages, with each stage resulting in a higher alcohol content and a different flavor profile. The final product is then aged in barrels to develop the characteristic flavors and colors associated with different types of whiskey.

They are made with Malted & Unmalted Barley: Irish whiskey is made using a combination of malted and unmalted barley, which gives it a unique flavor profile. The proportion of malted and unmalted barley used can vary between different distilleries, and can affect the final flavor of the whiskey. Generally, using a higher proportion of malted barley will result in a more complex and full-bodied whiskey, while using a higher proportion of unmalted barley will result in a lighter and smoother whiskey.

The use of unmalted barley also contributes to the distinctive “pot still” style of Irish whiskey, which is made using a traditional copper pot still and results in a whiskey with a rich, creamy mouthfeel and a spicy, fruity flavor profile. Overall, the combination of malted and unmalted barley is an important factor in the unique flavor and character of Irish whiskey.

They are aged for at least three years: Irish whiskey is typically aged for at least three years, but many varieties are aged for much longer to achieve more complex and rich flavors. The aging process is crucial in developing the character of Irish whiskey, as it allows the spirit to interact with the wood of the barrels and develop its unique taste.

The range of aging for Irish whiskey can vary widely, with some blends and single malts being aged for as little as three years and others being aged for up to several decades. The shortest aged Irish whiskies are usually blends of grain and malt whiskeys, which can be aged for as little as three years. Single malt Irish whiskeys are generally aged for a minimum of ten years, but some are aged for much longer, with some rare and expensive bottlings being aged for over 30 years.

They have a lighter flavor: Irish whiskey is known for its light and smooth flavor, which is often described as fruity, floral, and slightly sweet.

They don’t have a smokey flavor: A smoky flavor in whiskey is often described as having notes of smoke, char, or peat. This flavor can come from the malted barley used in the distillation process being dried over peat fires, which infuses the barley with smoky flavors. The longer the barley is exposed to the smoke, the stronger the smoky flavor will be in the finished whiskey. This type of flavor is commonly associated with Islay whiskies from Scotland and some Irish whiskies as well. Some people find this flavor to be an acquired taste, while others enjoy the complexity and depth it adds to the whiskey.

They use both Pot Still and Grain Whiskey: Irish whiskey is often a blend of both pot still and grain whiskey, which gives it a balanced and complex flavor profile.

They have a Smooth Finish: Irish whiskey has a smooth, warming finish that is often described as creamy and buttery.

Popular Irish Whiskies

Jameson Irish Whiskey

One of the most popular Irish whiskeys in the world, Jameson is a blended whiskey made from malted and unmalted barley, and corn. It’s triple distilled and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 4 years, giving it a smooth and mellow flavor. Jameson is produced by the Midleton Distillery in County Cork and is considered one of the best entry-level Irish whiskeys.

Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

Tullamore Dew is another popular Irish whiskey that’s known for its smooth and approachable taste. It’s a blended whiskey that’s aged in bourbon and sherry casks, resulting in a slightly sweet & spicy flavor. Tullamore Dew is produced by the Tullamore Distillery in County Offaly and has been around since 1829.

Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey

Bushmills is the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland, dating back to 1608. Bushmills Original is a blended whiskey that’s aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks, giving it a sweet and fruity flavor.

Redbreast 12-Year-Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Redbreast is produced by the Midleton Distillery in County Cork and is considered one of the best Irish whiskies. In fact, it has won numerous awards, including “Irish Whiskey of the Year” at the 2013 Irish Whiskey Awards. Redbreast is a single pot still whiskey, which means it’s made from a combination of malted and unmalted barley that’s distilled in a copper pot still. It’s aged in sherry casks for 12 years, giving it a rich and complex flavor that’s both fruity and spicy.

Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Green Spot is another single pot still whiskey that’s aged in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks. It’s produced by the Midleton Distillery (same as Jameson) and has a fruity and spicy flavor that’s both complex and approachable. It is also an award-winning whiskey, boasting the Double Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2017 along with many other accolades.

Powers Gold Label Irish Whiskey

Powers Gold Label is a blended whiskey that’s made from a combination of pot still and grain whiskey. It’s aged for at least 12 years in bourbon barrels, giving it a slightly sweet and spicy flavor that’s both smooth and robust. Powers is produced by the Midleton Distillery in County Cork and is considered one of the best Irish whiskies for its price point.

Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

Kilbeggan distilled at the Kilbeggan Distillery, which is one of the oldest continually operating distilleries in the world. The distillery was founded in 1757 and has a rich history of producing some of the finest Irish is a blended whiskey Aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 3 years, it has a smooth and mellow flavor that’s both easy to drink and easy on the wallet.

Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey is quite unique as it is the only peated Irish whiskey, which means it has a unique and distinct smoky flavor. The peat used to smoke the malted barley is sourced from the famous Connemara region of Ireland, giving the whiskey a truly authentic Irish taste. It is aged in oak casks, which adds complexity and depth to the flavor profile. It has notes of honey, vanilla, and fruit, as well as a hint of spice and a smooth finish and has won numerous awards including the World Whiskies Awards and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Expensive and Rare Irish Whiskey

As with any spirit, there are always some bottles that stand out from the rest. If you are looking for the best of the best (and have a lot of excess cash to spend), you won’t be disappointed with these rare and expensive Irish whiskies. 

Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection – These whiskies were distilled at the Old Midleton Distillery, which closed in 1975, and are among the rarest Irish whiskies in existence. It was distilled in 1974 and only 48 bottles were released, making it one of the rarest Irish whiskies. A set of six bottles sold for $44,000 in 2019.

Midleton Very Rare 45th Anniversary: This is a limited edition whiskey from the Midleton Distillery to celebrate their 45th anniversary. Only 254 bottles were released, and it was matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks. It can sell for upwards of $11,000.

Redbreast 21 Year Old: This is a single pot still whiskey that has been aged for 21 years in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks. It has won numerous awards and is highly sought after by whiskey connoisseurs. It can sell for upwards of $500.

Bushmills 30 Year Old – This limited edition whiskey is a blend of malt and grain whiskies aged for at least 30 years. It is bottled at cask strength and comes in a handcrafted wooden case. It can sell for several thousand dollars per bottle.

Teeling 24 Year Old – This single malt whiskey is aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in Sauternes wine barrels. It is limited to just 5,000 bottles and can sell for several hundred dollars per bottle.