My first cocktail by Dead Rabbit, the Wild Irish Rose:

  • 0.75 ounce Pomegranate Syrup
  • 1.00 ounce Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey
  • 1.00 ounce Laird’s Applejack Bonded Proof
  • 1.00 ounce Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 0.75 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Bittermens Burlesque Bitters
  • 3 dashes Pernod Absinthe
  • 1 large egg white

Pre-chill a punch glass. Add all the ingredients to a shaker. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into the punch glass.

I’ve been studying vintage and craft cocktails for about a year and a half now, and I thought I was getting the hang of it. I’ve researched on-line and read a number of books including Wondrich’s Imbibe!, Wilson’s Boozehound, and the Death & Co. cocktail book.

For my birthday I received a copy of The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual and upon reading their recipes I realized I know jack about vintage cocktails.

Whereas the other books were fun and informative, this takes drinks to a new level. They are more like potions than cocktails, and the Drinks Manual is the grimoire. The first recipes they list are classic punches containing ingredients with Latin names like “oleo-saccharum” (basically, citrus peels muddled in sugar to express the oils).

Now I don’t mean to brag, but I have one of the best stocked bars between Atlanta and DC for vintage cocktails. No, I don’t have the greatest Scotch collection or a huge selection of bourbons, but I do have all of the weird stuff required for the old drinks like Parfait Amour, kümmel, Creme Yvette (and crème de violette) and a wide selection of amari. So you can imagine my surprise when it took me until page 119 to find a cocktail I had a chance of making.

To add to the irony, the Wild Irish Rose is based on the Jack Rose, my most disliked cocktail to date, and calls for a peated whiskey. When I made the Rusty Nail I expressed my dislike for peated whiskies, but my friend Craig (also from Belfast like the founders of The Dead Rabbit) had given me a bottle of the Connemara and I liked it. The Irish have a way of making their whiskey appeal to a wide variety of palates, smoky or not.

I was missing the Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, but I was surprised to find it available in North Carolina (and it is even on sale this month). The bitters I got on Amazon. Thus the only thing I didn’t have was the recommended absinthe, but at three dashes I doubted the brand would add that much of a difference so I used some Ricard pastis.

When I made the Jack Rose, I didn’t like it. My friend Justin (a professional cocktail chef) made me one, and it was better, but still nothing I’d seek out. In this version I think the drink is the best that it can be. It is very good. I like cocktails with egg white since it adds a really nice, smooth mouth feel. The combination of spirits work well together and I enjoyed both making and drinking it. The only thing keeping it from being perfect was a weird bitterness at the finish that I couldn’t quite place, and I might be able to get rid of it with some experimentation.

But, for me, the cocktail has so much baggage that it won’t become a favorite. I wouldn’t turn one down, mind you, but it is not something I would go out of my way to make again.

Rating: 4/5

Notes: As mentioned above, I used the recommended brands, including Laird’s Applejack, with the exception of the absinthe.