The Dubliner cocktail is a modern classic. The Manhattan variation was born in the late 90’s New York bar scene, thanks to icon Gary “Gaz” Regan. Regan was a true bon vivant, raconteur, and mixologist. His tome, Joy of Mixology, is a must for any burgeoning mixer (home or professional).
Regan’s assembly of a Dubliner is both simple at heart and inspired in flavor. As with all cocktails that become classics, there are a lot of versions out there. I tend to keep mine fairly close to the original mix of Irish whiskey, sweet vermouth, Grand Marnier, and Orange Bitters, with a green bauble as a garnish. When I learned the drink, though, we always released orange oils over the finished cocktail. To this day, that’s my one ripple when making the drink, as I think it adds that extra x-factor.
As for the difficulty level, this is a pretty easy stirrer. If you can make a Manhattan, you can make this. It’s also a quick cocktail to make. All told, it shouldn’t take more than two minutes from start to finish. Lastly, you can batch these easily (it is St. Patrick’s Day, after all) by simply multiplying the ingredients up and storing the cocktail in a corked bottle or sealed pitcher, ready to be poured, spritzed with orange oils, and garnished.
Let’s get mixing!
- 2-oz. Irish whiskey
- 0.5-oz. Grand Marnier
- 0.5-oz. sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Orange Bitters
- Orange Peel
- 1 cherry apple
I’m using Jameson Black Barrel because it’s a great cocktail base. The boldness of the oak char can stand up to mixing, and you’re left with hints of vanilla, orchard fruits, and, well, whiskey when using it in this drink. I also like using Redbreast 12, Bushmills Single Malt 10, and Tullamore D.E.W. Single Malt. I’d stay away from the peaty Irish single malts if I were you.
I’m using Carpano Antica vermouth because that’s the bottle I have open in the fridge (always store your vermouth in the fridge once you open it). But by all means, use Martini Rosso if that’s what you have on hand. It’ll be a bit thinner, but it gets the job done.
Let’s talk about orange liqueur for a moment. Yes, you can use triple sec in this recipe. But triple sec, Cointreau, or orange liqueur is not the same Grand Marnier. Triple Sec is an orange liqueur that’s clear. Cointreau is the same, but made in France. Grand Marnier is a blend of Cognac and orange liqueur that’s the color of brandy. So you’re getting both a Cognac-infused orange liqueur in the taste and the color of brandy in the body of the cocktail. You want both effects in this cocktail.
Lastly, I couldn’t find green Maraschino cherries (they were literally out on the store shelf — that’s what I get for going ON St. Patrick’s Day). So, I’m using cherry apples that have been treated like cherries canned in light syrup. They actually add a nice heft to the garnish, a bolder green, and less overly syrupy sweetness of a classic Maraschino. If you can find green Maraschino’s this time of year, use those.
What You’ll Need:
- Cocktail jug
- Pre-chilled coupe or Nick and Nora glass
- Fruit peeler/pairing knife
- Add the Irish whiskey, Grand Marnier, vermouth, and bitters to the mixing jug.
- Fill with ice and stir until the outside of the jug is frosted over and ice-cold to touch.
- Strain the drink into a waiting, pre-chilled coupe.
- Spritz orange oils from the orange peel over the cocktail. Discard peel.
- Spear a cherry apple and balance on the rim of the glass.
This is such a light and refreshing cocktail. It feels very much like spring in a glass with the citrus oils brightening everything up. The whiskey shines through wonderfully with a tinge of botanicals from the vermouth and bitters.
What’s interesting is that the “orange” isn’t overt. It’s more like a subtle nod, similar to the orange you’d find in an orange cake where the orange essence is a single part of a bigger whole of eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, etc. In this case, that orange is a part of a bigger whole of spice, vanilla, grains, oak, botanicals, and fruit.
Overall, this is a very crushable cocktail to drink straight up (with no ice and in a stemmed glass). It’s full of Irish whiskey vibes, plenty of subtle spice and botanicals, and just the right amount of orange to add a ray of sunshine to everything.
So, sometimes I like my drinks on the rocks and this is a great candidate for that.
I adjust the measures a little by adding 3-oz. Irish whiskey, 1-oz. sweet vermouth, 1-oz. Grand Marnier, and four dashes of Orange Bitters to a mixing jug.
I stir that until very cold. I then strain the cocktail over a waiting rocks glass with four ice cubes. I release the orange oils and drop in a speared cherry apple. Done.
This is a little bolder, overall. The whiskey shines through more clearly with a real sense of the vanilla, oak, and grains at the base. The sweet vermouth creates a velvet body while the orange seems to pop a little less. But that’s okay. The orange is sharp but tastes like an accompaniment to the whiskey, not the star of the show.
If I had to choose, I’d make a batch and probably pour these over the rocks. But that’s just me. Find the way you like it best, and go with that.