We in Chicago know how to throw a party, as St. Patrick’s Day goes to show. Here at KOVAL, we love to explore the history behind each festive occasion and the cocktails shared in celebration. This month is dedicated to the history of women with brilliant spirits, and that’s true on St. Patrick’s Day, too.
While scholars remain uncertain about when and where distillation was discovered as a means to make spirits, the word “whiskey” definitely comes from the Gaeilge language word, uisge-beatha (Gaelic is the language of Scotland, Gaeilge is Irish). The word meant “water of life,” and the spirit (alongside beer) was undoubtedly being distilled by women as a home-and-hearth creation. By today’s standards, however, this lively drink would not be called whiskey. Rather, just as Americans refer to an unaged distillate as “moonshine,” the Irish have a term of their own: poitín. Plenty of recipes would have called for barley—a common grain that grows well in Europe and Mesopotamia—or even oats, and when Europeans began colonizing the Western hemisphere, corn and potatoes became available for distilling poitín as well. Around that period, English control of the Emerald Isle took on the task of taxation, particularly on the sale of spirits, releasing excise agents on “illicit distillers,” largely women who had been distilling for generations at home.
Start the day well (or finish the night off right) with an ode to the women who brought poitín and smooth whiskey into the world, using KOVAL’s creamy Oat Whiskey in an updated twist on a classic cocktail:
2 oz KOVAL Oat Whiskey
1 oz KOVAL Coffee Liqueur
Coffee, brewed hot
Add KOVAL Oat Whiskey and Coffee Liqueur to your hot cocktail glass or mug. Fill mug with until 9/10ths full. Float whipped cream on top, and garnish by grating nutmeg on top. Sip and enjoy, preferably with freshly baked soda bread.