Irish Blackthorn – a Semi-Dry Irish Manhattan with Irish Whiskey & Absinthe

The Blackthorn (Irish Version), is a perfect alternative to the usual St. Patrick’s Day drink. It’s a remix of a Paddy Cocktail (basically, an Irish Manhattan) with Irish Whiskey, White Vermouth (or Dry Vermouth), Aromatic Bitters, Absinthe & a Lemon Peel for garnish. The recipe originally dates back to 1900. It appeared in the 3rd edition of Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual.

The original recipe called for Dry Vermouth. The drink is usually made that way, but my favorite comes from Jim Meehan’s The PDT Cocktail Book, which calls for White Vermouth.

White Vermouth is sometimes called Vermouth Chambéry, Blanc Vermouth or Bianco Vermouth. It’s a semi-sweet vermouth that sits somewhere in between Dry and Sweet Vermouth. It’s the commonly misunderstood ingredient in the El Presidente ( cocktail. And it is great in this drink. I definitely prefer it in the Irish Blackthorn over Dry Vermouth, but if you like it better with Dry Vermouth, feel free to make it that way instead.

You can really savor the whiskey in this stirred drink, so use one that you can sip. I departed from my usual Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey and opted for a great blend that heavier on the banana and toffee flavors. I’ve had an impression of blended whiskeys that wasn’t very fair, totally dismissing blends, for years. It was due to some misinformation and, of course, some disagreeable, cheap blended Irish Whiskeys that I’d had in the past. Like anything else, blends can be tasty and can be nasty. For this drink, you don’t have to go hog-wild and use a Yellow Spot or Middleton Rare, the other flavors of the drink will come through and the subtleties of the whiskey will be lost in it, but a good whiskey will stand out in this cocktail. Meehan recommends Red Breast in this one. For me, Teeling does the trick.

The flavor of the drink is pretty exciting, particularly with the White Vermouth. With the first few sips, it starts off like a semi-sweet Irish Manhattan, almost like a Perfect (both Dry and Sweet Vermouth) Paddy Cocktail, and the last couple sips really highlight the absinthe, particularly in the finish of the drink. It’s a great combination that creates an exciting balance on your palate. Sláinte!

2 oz Irish Whiskey
1 oz White Vermouth (or Dry Vermouth)
2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
rinse Absinthe
garnish Lemon Twist

Stir everything but Absinthe with ice. Rise Absinthe in a chilled coupe glass. Strain cocktail into coupe glass. Garnish with Lemon Twist.

Summer Sports 5 by Björn Skogsberg
via Epidemic Sound

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Featured in This Episode:

Teeling Irish Whiskey

Dolin White (Blanc) Vermouth

Copper & Kings Absinthe Blanche

Angostura Bitters

Bar Tools:

Coupe Glass

OXO Measuring Cup (2 oz)


Julep Strainer

Mixing Glass

Atomizer (10 ml)


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