Add all ingredients to a mixing glass
Shake with ice and strain in to a coupe
* * *
Ireland sober is Ireland stiff.
– James Joyce
Literary genius, Ireland does not lack. Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Bram Stoker, W. B. Yeats, G. B. Shaw, Thomas Moore, and of course, James Joyce. The Irish are claimed to like their drink as well, although my brief time on the island found a more particular than voluminous drinking class — such as when our friend and guide, Shane, led us across the breadth of Temple Bar, passing too many pubs to count, until we reached the one that served a “proper” pint. It’s no surprise, then, that an Irish literary giant such as Joyce should have a drink named in his honor. What is surprising is that this one dates back only to 2001.
The James Joyce comes to us courtesy of Gary Regan, one of the most influential barmen of the past century. More than anything, Regan is one of the loudest voices promoting the world “community” when it comes to barfolk of all stripes — his Weekly Shooter email reaching over 8,600 people, including the creme de la creme of mixology. This past summer, along with Ted Haigh, Regan was proclaimed one of the 25 Most Influential Cocktail Personalities of the Past Century by Imbibe Magazine. Suffice it to say, the man knows a thing or two.
The James Joyce is a simple twist (substituting Irish Whiskey for Rye) on the classic Oriental Cocktail. The Oriental, in turn, comes to us via the Savoy Cocktail Book, along with the following note:
In August, 1924, an American engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines, and only the extraordinary devotion of Dr. B– saved his life. As an act of gratitude, the engineer gave Dr. B– the recipe of this cocktail.
As a class of cocktail, the James Joyce (and, obviously, the Oriental before it) belongs to a subset of Sours called New Orleans Sours. Whereas your traditional Sour, such as a standard Whiskey Sour, is made up of spirits, citrus (lemon or lime juice), and a non-alcoholic sweetener such as Simple Syrup, the New Orleans cousin eschews the syrup for an Orange Liqueur, such as triple sec or curaçao. If New Orleans Sours sound new and exotic to you, they aren’t — the Margarita is one, as are the Brandy Crusta, Corpse Reviver, Pegu Club, and Sidecar we’ve featured here. Even the Cosmopolitan falls into this group.
On the palate, the James Joyce boasts the same astringent tanginess of its brethren as well as the sweeter, honey notes and spiciness of the Whiskey — all in all, a very nice combination. If you’re an Irish Whiskey fan, you’re sure to like the James Joyce. If not, just remember the words of Joyce himself: “A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” And there’s nothing wrong with a little discovery, is there?
Esoterica: Long before 24, James Joyce constructed the eighteen chapters of his Ulysses to each take place roughly over the course of one hour, with the entire work occurring from 8am to 2am the next morning. In addition, each chapter parallels a similar episode from Homer’s “Odyssey” and is associated with a specific color, art or science, and bodily organ. Take that, Jack Bauer.
- The Land Of Leprechaun and Guinness – Dublin, Ireland (travelpod.com)
- A Meandering Thread Becomes James Joyce (nytimes.com)