Skip to main content

Say Hello to Poitín: Irish Moonshine (and One of the Strongest Drinks on the Planet!)

connacht whiskey co poitin mullarkey s bar straw boys
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Ah, moonshine. The name evokes images of the backwoods, of whiskey runners dodging the government, of stills patched together, and mason jars of clear liquid passed around for the enjoyment of all. Maybe even, for the hardcore, going blind from the stuff.

Here in the US, we’ve had a moonshine moment. In 2015, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, white/corn whiskey sold 2.2 million 9-liter cases, making it the second largest group, behind bourbon/Tennessee whiskey (which had 17.4 million of the 20.4 million cases sold).

It might not be a surprise, but we weren’t the first ones to be making moonshine. The fellows who first started making whiskey in the hinterlands of Appalachia and elsewhere had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere happened to be Ireland (and Scotland, but we’re focusing on Ireland here). For centuries, the Irish have been making their own moonshine, which they call poitín.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The word poitín comes from the diminutive word for pot, as the liquid was (and still is) made in a little copper pot still. Pronounced by various people as po-teen, po-cheen, or pu-cheen, poitín has been made in the bog lands and backwoods of Ireland for centuries (though not legally until 1997) and passed around in just about the exact same way that people today share true moonshine.

(Funny how drinking traditions can be the same, regardless of place and time, isn’t it?)

Made primarily from barley or potatoes, the proof ranges widely—from as low as 40% ABV all the way up to 90 or 95% ABV.

You read that right. Ninety-five percent alcohol by volume. The high end possibility here is what makes it capable of being the strongest drink on the planet. It’s easy to see why, for centuries, it was illegal to produce (what with the literally having the ability to make you sick and all).

Now, though, the times they are a-changing and, slowly, Irish whiskey companies have been putting out their own poitíns. Most aren’t for sale in the US, but Connacht Whiskey Company, based two and a half hours west of Dublin in Ballina, has begun to import their Straw Boys Poitín. Made from malted barley in the traditional small copper pot still, Straw Boys Poitín is nowhere near the strength of the stuff you’d find wandering the bogs of Ireland (it comes in at 45% ABV), but hey, if you’re going to start drinking a new spirit, it’s probably for the best to start on the easier stuff. At the very least, you’ll get to actually taste it, instead of becoming violently ill by downing something made almost completely from alcohol.

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
A huge Le Creuset Cyber Monday sale just started — from $10
Carrots in the Le Creuset Signature cast-iron skillet.

Cyber Monday deals all over the place right now, with many of the biggest retailers discounting some popular products. You’ll appreciate this if you’re in the market for some holiday gifts for the chef in your circle, or if you're looking for something new for your own kitchen. Amazon is having Cyber Monday Le Creuset sale, with all sorts of high quality cookware seeing discounts and prices as low as $10. Skillets, Dutch ovens, mugs, and other kitchen items are available in this sale, so click over to Amazon and add something by Le Creuset to your kitchen.

Why You Should Shop the La Creuset Cyber Monday Sale at Amazon
Le Creuset is a premium cookware brand. It makes high quality cookware that both looks great and cooks great. It’s one of the most sought-after brands when it comes to a discount, as its premium reputation brings with it premium prices. But with this Le Creuset sale at Amazon you can save on cookware across the board. The Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Oval Dutch Oven regularly costs $445, but

Read more
Slow cooker recipes: Cincinnati chili is easier than you think
Put it over spaghetti, we dare you
Cincinnati chili

This time of year, everyone loves good slow cooker recipes. You want one that warms, comforts, and greets you with a delicious scent the moment you walk through the door after a long, chilly autumn day. The slow cooker is a beautiful thing for that very reason - not only does it provide a nearly prep-free meal, but it's the gift that keeps on giving with its delicious promise of a warm and hearty meal through tantalizingly exquisite aromas filling the house all day. And while we all love common slow cooker recipes - a meaty pot roast or Kung Pao chicken, sometimes what we're craving at the end of the day is something a bit out of the ordinary. That's why we love this recipe for Cincinnati chili.
Cincinnati chili is tremendously unique in the world of varying (sometimes competing) American chili dishes. Its flavors are warmer and more exotic, which makes sense as its origins aren't American at all, but Greek. In the early 20th century, Greek-Macedonian immigrant brothers John and Tom Kiradjieff opened a restaurant in Cincinnati. Their chili was flavored with traditional ingredients like chili pepper and cumin but also included more familiar Mediterranean ingredients such as allspice and cinnamon. The deliciously comforting dish caught on, and Cincinnati chili quickly became a regional favorite.
This spicy chili is traditionally served over spaghetti with a generous topping of shredded cheddar on top. Depending on the locals you happen to ask, the best way to enjoy this chili is over spaghetti, with or without cheese, kidney beans, and/or grated white onion. Within these barriers, one cannot go wrong. Just make sure to always, always use your fork to cut the pasta into bite-size portions. Twirling is absolutely out of the question.

Cincinnati chili recipe
While spaghetti is the traditional choice for serving Cincinnati chili, another popular option is pouring a generous heap over hot dogs. If you ask us, this is the absolute best way to make chili dogs.

Read more
Ice cream bread is the lifehack your internal fat kid needs
You like ice cream. You like bread. Why not mix them together?
ice cream bread recipe 6289263 1920

Social media's hottest new recipe trend that's floating around is one that we deeply, truly approve of. Naturally, things like butter boards and new coffee concoctions are always appreciated by those of us who love a fun culinary trend. But there's something about this one that just really tickles us pink - ice cream bread. Maybe it's the tempting simplicity of the name that combines two of the most wonderful things in the world. Maybe it's the fact that the recipe itself is almost simpler than the name. Maybe it's the sprinkles. Whatever the reason, ice cream bread is our new favorite trendy treat.

When we saw this video making the rounds, we decided that we needed to give ice cream bread a try, and the results were pleasantly surprising.

Read more