10 of Our Favorite Irish Drinks

What to Expect on Offer in Irish Pubs, Bars, and Restaurants

A strong Irish coffee in a glass on top of a wooden bar
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Going to an Irish pub and ordering a Bud Light would be like going to Italy and eating Pizza Hut. We recommend the following ten drinks the next time you're in the Emerald Isle, at your favorite neighborhood Irish pub, or hosting your own St. Patrick's Day party. From the venerable Guinness to Craft Beer and delicious cider, the choice is yours.

  • 01 of 10

    Whiskey - The Water of Life

    Irish Whiskey with Ice
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    Derived from the Irish uisce beatha ("water of life", with the uisce part being the fluid) and normally written with an "e", Irish whiskey was first distilled by monks about a thousand years ago. It was originally used for medicinal reasons only, as a restorative. Today, Irish Whiskey is popular both in neat and mixed forms, though purists will insist on, a drop of water only, if at all. Several well-known brands are available, the most popular being Old Bushmills from County Antrim, Tullamore Dew, Power's, Paddy's, and Dublin's favourite, Jameson's. Whiskeys are available in blended form or as single grain and single malt pure produce, the latter being often quite a bit more expensive. Tourists should take note that high taxes make Irish whiskey actually more expensive in Ireland than in a lot of other countries—the export of a common variety is often not worth the bother.

  • 02 of 10

    Guinness - A Pint of Plain

    Guinness in Ireland
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    In 1759, Arthur Guinness leased the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin and soon after began brewing the popular London "porter". He and his family have never looked back and the porter or "stout" is now synonymous with the family name. No longer given away free to new mothers as a lukewarm restorative in Dublin hospitals but available on tap everywhere, Guinness is the quintessential Irish beer. Some consider it an acquired taste. Having said that, ​the Guinness Storehouse is Dublin's top tourist attraction and a great place to have a look over the city from the Gravity Bar (a pint is included in your entrance fee).

  • 03 of 10

    Other Beers - A Wider Variety

    Irish beers on tap
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    The Irish love their beers. Every pub will serve a wide variety on draft or in bottles. Popular Irish beers are Murphy's Stout, Kilkenny, and Smithwick's. English and Scottish "lagers" are preferred by the less discerning drinker in a hurry. Popular overseas brands include the Australian Foster's, the ubiquitous Bud Light, Mexican Sol, and a variety of Dutch and German lagers. And any off-license (liquor store) will provide East European, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese brands. Plus craft beers are making a big impact on Ireland, with new breweries springing up everywhere. Especially recommended are the products from the Boyne Brewhouse and Jack Cody's.

  • 04 of 10

    Cider - A Cold Drink in Summer, a Hot One in Winter

    Patrons drinking Bulmers cider in the beer garden of The BrazenHead - Dublin, County Dublin
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    Brewed from apples (and the Armagh orchards are famous for their tasty produce), this alcoholic drink has become very popular in recent years and is drunk by the pint like beers. Its often higher alcohol content makes it also more "effective" than most beers while being served ice-cold as a refreshing drink. Drinkers beware! The most popular Irish cider is Bulmer's, named (for trademark reasons) Magner's in Northern Ireland. In winter, a hot, spiced cider is also a popular pick-me-up after suffering the cold.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Cream Liquor - Not Just a "Girlie Drink"

    Apart from the well-known Bailey's Irish Cream, several similar liquors are available and targeted mostly at the female market. While the ingredients are basically the same, their proportions vary and so does the taste of these liquors. Normally drunk moderately cool, they are also available on ice or as a shot in black coffee. It is also an ingredient in the "Irish Car Bomb", a drink that only clueless frat boys order in an Irish pub.

  • 06 of 10

    Mead - Traditional, But Rare

    Gone out of fashion slightly since the Viking raids, mead has made a comeback in the last few years as an alternative drink somewhere between beers and liquors. Combining the sweetness of honey with the bite of alcohol, meads are popular after-dinner drinks. The variety can be bewildering; some meads are similar to wine or beer, others are medium-strength liquors.

  • 07 of 10

    Poitin - Now Also Available in "Legal"

    This is the most Irish of drinks and could be described as a neat spirit distilled from whatever was at hand. More specifically the word refers to a strong spirit (on par with German schnapps) made from potatoes. It has been produced for centuries in moonshine stills up and down the country by tax-conscious enthusiasts. Today poitín (or poteen) can be bought legally and with fewer associated health hazards in most off-licenses.

  • 08 of 10

    Irish Coffee - That'll Warm You Up

    A strong Irish coffee in a glass on top of a wooden bar
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    Folk history has it that this beverage was invented shortly after the Second World War by an enterprising Irish barman as a means to revive the flagging spirits of transatlantic air passengers. It combines a good shot of Irish whiskey, steaming hot and strong black coffee, topped with thick double cream poured over the back of a spoon. An Irish Coffee is an excellent restorative after a few miles of vigorous walking on a windswept beach.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Wine - Imports Rule (Reasonably)

    Irish wine
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    Despite Ireland boasting only a few vineyards (and a negligible commercial production, being on the fringe of non-viable), wine has become a popular drink especially with meals or on social occasions. It is also quite expensive, with the more affordable wines almost constantly being on the lower scale of the spectrum regarding quality and taste. Most landlords and restaurateurs display an indifference bordering on ignorance, and asking for recommendations can be a sobering experience.

  • 10 of 10

    Alcopops - The Teenager's Choice

    Alcopops are the bane of Irish society and immensely popular with the young crowd. Basically a concoction of water, sugar, food color, juice, and strong alcohol. They are available in many colors and guaranteed to hasten intoxication by masking the fairly high alcohol content. They often guarantee a splitting headache the next morning. Better avoided unless you want a spot of seriously "trendy" Irish drinking.