Whether you’re planning a destination wedding in Ireland or want to give a nod to your Irish heritage from afar, having Irish drinks at your wedding is a great way to do it. After all, the Irish famously do like a tipple! Fortunately, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Irish drinks. Our beverages, from stout to whiskey, are distributed and enjoyed across the world. So whatever your taste, you’ll find something to tickle your fancy. Here are ten Irish drinks to consider adding to your wedding bar.
First on the list has to be Irish whiskey, as we produce some of the world’s finest! The Gaelic term for whiskey is ‘uisce beatha’ (pronounced ish-ka bah-ha) which translates as ‘water of life’. Common types include single malt, single grain, and blended whiskey, and many of the most popular brands (such as Jameson, Bushmills, and Tullamore Dew) are household names. With so many to choose from, a special Irish whiskey bar is always popular with guests, but other options are having a whiskey toast, serving whiskey-based cocktails, or enjoying a whiskey tasting menu as part of your meal.
There are actually several delicious Irish stouts available (including Murphy’s and Beamish), but Guinness is certainly the most famous. It has been brewed at the Guinness Brewery in St, James’ Gate, Dublin, since 1759. Including Guinness on your bar menu is an easy way to add a touch of Irish flair to your wedding. Another option is to serve Black Velvet, a cocktail made of half Guinness, half champagne.
Bailey’s Irish Cream
Another very famous Irish export is Bailey’s, an indulgent cream liqueur with a creamy, chocalatey taste. Bailey’s only uses cream from Irish cows in their product, adding an extra level of authenticity. Serve it as an after-dinner liqueur, either straight or chilled over ice. (If you’d like to try a different Irish cream, Coole Swan made in Co. Meath is a great option! It’s made with Belgian white chocolate and single malt whiskey.)
Another after-dinner favourite, Irish coffee is a delicious mix of hot coffee and Irish whiskey, and sugar, topped with freshly whipped cream. It makes a great dessert addition (or alternative, for some guests) but could also be served during cocktail hour to warm guests up on a chilly day.
There’s nothing quite like a cold Irish cider on a sunny afternoon. Bulmer’s/Magner’s is the most popular brand, and can also be found quite easily outside of Ireland. In winter, swap out cold cider for a hot spiced cider, which is also a great option for warming guests up after time outdoors.
Irish Mist is a whiskey liqueur made right here in Dublin. It’s warm, sweet, and aromatic, and is a good addition to cocktails as well as a stand-alone drink. Ingredients include aged Irish whiskey, honey, heather, and aromatic herbs.
Pronounced ‘put-cheen’, poitín is a drink distilled from malted grains or potatoes and milk whey. It’s essentially the Irish equivalent of America’s moonshine and was illegally produced for over 200 years, often in rural regions. It was legalised in 1997 and in 2008 was granted Geographical Indicative Status. It’s very potent (although not as potent as the original version!) but makes a great addition to a cocktail. A fun brand to include in your wedding bar would be Straw Boys Poitín, named for the boys who would crash weddings for a drink and a dance, bringing good luck with them.
The Emerald Isle may be better known for whiskey than gin, but the gin market has seen a rapid expansion in the last few years. So if gin is your tipple, you’ll find plenty of options to include in your wedding bar! The best known is probably Dingle Gin, which is proudly produced in Co. Kerry, and uses botanicals from the local landscape like rowanberry, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn, and heather. It’s a wonderfully refreshing drink – perfect for a summer destination wedding in Ireland!
Mead has a long association with weddings in Ireland. In fact, the term ‘honeymoon’ comes from the tradition of newlyweds sharing the malted honey beverage through the first month of their marriage. It can be served either warm or cold. And, while it’s too sweet to be to many guests’ tastes, it makes a meaningful traditional alternative to a champagne toast to the couple.
Of course, signature cocktails are always a great addition to any wedding bar menu! It’s especially fun when the cocktail names or ingredients have personal meaning to the couple or pay tribute to the wedding destination. Some appropriate Irish drinks for cocktail hour include the Irish Mule (a Moscow Mule with whiskey instead of vodka), the Wild Irish Rose (whiskey, grenadine, lemon juice, sugar, and soda), or the Irish Kiss (whiskey, peach schnapps, ginger ale, orange juice). Or why not create your own? The bar staff at the best Irish wedding venues are always happy to customise cocktails for couples.
Here’s to all our favourite Irish drinks. Sláinte!
Slán go Fóill,
Images by Lisa O’Dwyer, Kieran Harnett, Doreen Kilfeather, Story of Eve