Skip to main content

Learn All About Irish Whiskey with From Barley to Blarney

It’s no secret that the team behind one of the most successful bars in the U.S., The Dead Rabbit, know a thing or two about whiskey. With two cocktail books under their belt and what seems like countless awards for bar excellence, they have established From Barley to Blarney: A Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland (Andrews McMeel 2019), the team has taken their expertise and applied it to the oldest of whiskey traditions, Irish whiskey.

From Barley to Blarney
From Barley to Blarney

On the genesis of the book, Dead Rabbit proprietors Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon said it came down to the rapid growth and the sheer excitement around the category right now.

“With so many new distilleries opening in Ireland we wanted to have the latest informative [guide] with what’s happening in the world of Irish Whiskey. And there’s so much happening. Now is the time,” they said.

Written with Tim Herlihy (who you will remember from our Irish whiskey episode of The Manual podcast) and Conor Kelly, From Barley to Blarney explores everything about Irish whiskey, from its origins — aka the origins of the entire whiskey category — through the boom and bust of the category to its recent resurgence. The book isn’t just a history lesson, though, as the team embarked on an epic journey across Ireland to visit every distillery (and with many distilleries now in-progress, only the ones with stills made it into the book, according to McGarry and Muldoon) and 160 of Ireland’s pubs (50 made their way into the book).

From Barley to Blarney Madden's Belfast
The ‘From Barley to Blarney’ team at Madden’s Belfast. From Barley to Blarney

The book is broken into six main sections: the history, styles, and production of Irish whiskey, guides to visiting and understanding the different distilleries and pubs of the four provinces of Ireland, a section on Dublin, and the final section which contains a selection of Irish whiskey cocktails and other extras.

You’ll have not only a solid base of Irish whiskey and pub knowledge but also the will to hop on the first jet to Dublin.

The text of the book is both friendly and informative. It’s as if you are sitting at one of these very pubs, and the authors are telling you about the trip themselves. This allows a lot of information to be packed in without being overwhelming. If you knew nothing about Irish whiskey before picking up the book, it doesn’t matter. By the end, you’ll have not only a solid base of Irish whiskey and Irish pub knowledge but also the will and wish to hop on the first jet to Dublin and start your very own journey.

And why do the authors think you should do that very thing? Because the range and breadth of innovation in the Irish whiskey category right now is phenomenal.

“Non-oak finishes like chestnut, plus beer, cider, rum, and fortified wine casks are all being utilized for flavor,” McGarry and Muldoon said, adding that the return of Dublin Pot Still Irish Whiskey, as well as oats, wheat, and rye being added back into mash bills, are also invigorating signposts for the future of Irish whiskey.

The biggest question about From Barley to Blarney, perhaps, is what to drink while reading the book. While you can go with a nice dram of neat Irish whiskey, the cocktails at the back of the book offer up numerous delicious options to shake or stir up as well. Below, you can check out the recipe for one of our favorites, The Grindstone.

The Grindstone

From Barley to Blarney The Grindstone cocktail Tullamore DEW
From Barley to Blarney

“This is a lovely summery riff on the classic Stone Fence cocktail. The original dates back to the American Revolutionary War. The story goes that the night before the Green Mountain Boys attacked the British-held Fort Ticonderoga, they drank a mixture of rum and hard cider for courage. This version is altogether more peaceable, highlighting the whiskey’s unusual cider cask finish.”

  • 4 ounces semi-dry cider
  • 5 ounces Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask
  • .75 ounce American Fruits Apple Liqueur
  • .5 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 2 dashes Boston Bittah’s

Method: Build in a highball glass with big chunks of ice. Squeeze a lemon twist over the top and discard.

Cocktail and photos reprinted with permission from From Barley to Blarney: A Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland by Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry, Tim Herlihy, and Conor Kelly; Andrews McMeel 2019.

Editors' Recommendations

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…
Whiskey upgrade: How to fat wash your favorite whiskey or bourbon to add new depths of flavor
Add flavor to whiskey or bourbon with fat-washing
Whiskey glass

If you pay attention to the cocktail or whiskey world, you’ve probably heard the term “fat-washed” at some point. You also might not have any idea what that means. You might assume you should, so you don’t want to ask anyone and seem foolish, right? It sounds like you’re washing whiskey with some kind of fat, whatever that means. If you think that, you’re on the right track. It is a technique to change the flavor of whiskey (and other spirits), but it has nothing to do with your kitchen sink, washing machine, dishwasher, or anything like that.

In the simplest terms, fat washing is a cocktail technique in which some form of fat (like bacon fat, butter, or some other fat) is added to room-temperature whiskey (like in a dish or sealable container, not a bottle). It sits on the counter for a few hours so the fat can separate from the spirit before being put into a refrigerator or freezer until the fat forms a solid crust on top. Scrap it off or strain it through cheesecloth and you have a buttery, fatty, flavorful whiskey to pour back into a bottle to use in your favorite cocktails. Sounds simple enough. To do it right requires a little bit more effort than that. There are steps that need to be taken.

Read more
Feeling rushed in the mornings? This is the best way to get great coffee
Custom coffee at-home without any special equipment? Yes, please.
Cup of coffee with beans on table

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and while we tend to agree, the spread is nothing without some quality caffeine. Yet, we don't always have the energy or time to produce a solid cup. So, for those who live frantic a.m. lifestyles that barely make room for a sip of java -- let alone a bite of toast -- we have a solution, and its name is Frazy.

So, instead of dropping by Starbucks or dusting off that espresso machine (assuming you have one to begin with), try this convenient service instead. Created by baristas, the vials of coffee are customizable and require only water to create. One can decide on the strength of flavor and level of sweetness, along with dairy choice, and the resulting drink can take the form of either cold or hot coffee, along with a straight-up espresso shot.

Read more
Review: The HAVA R01 Compact Countertop Dishwasher might be the game-changer your home needs
A small dishwasher might be exactly what you need for your home bar
HAVA R01 countertop dishwasher

A dishwasher is the ultimate daily luxury. Washing dishes by hand is tricky to do properly and actually wastes more water than using a dishwasher. However, for those who lack the space for a full-size unit, or who crave the time-saving sudsy power of a second unit, the countertop dishwasher is the perfect solution. Whether your home bar boasts a sink or not, the HAVA R01 is an ultra-compact option to get your best barware and utensils sparkling clean. Here, we'll review the HAVA R01 model and run through its strengths and weaknesses, both as a stand-alone dishwasher and as a convenient addition to your wet bar.

A mini or countertop dishwasher is a free-standing electric appliance that hooks up to a kitchen faucet or fills with clean water manually and drains the dirty water into the sink. Because there's no plumbing to alter and the machine simply plugs in like other appliances, it is easy to move or store as needed. This makes it one of the most flexible yet hard-working appliances you can buy.

Read more