Scotch, whiskey and bourbon are often used interchangeably, and much like the wine and Champagne industry, there are rules regarding what spirits can use such nomenclature.
To be a true Irish whiskey, it must adhere to guidelines set forth in the Irish Whiskey Act of 1980. One such guideline requires distilling and aging (for at least three years in wooden casks) in Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. Common styles of Irish whiskies include single malt, single grain and blended. If you are looking to try a genuine Irish whiskey, check out one of these renowned spots in the greater Sacramento area.
The Boxing Donkey Irish Pub
Hours: Mon to Fri – 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sat to Sun – 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The Boxing Donkey Irish Pub in Roseville has a variety of Irish whiskey options available, including flights and specialty cocktails. Try one of its specialty whiskey flights like the Jameson ($20) that gives you an opportunity to try a vertical tasting with Jameson, Jameson 12 year, and Jameson 18 year. Or for a real Irish whiskey connoisseur, The Boxing Donkey offers “Whiskey Flight A Tri” ($45) that includes Midelton Very Rare, Jameson Gold and Redbreast.
Not keen on trying Irish whiskey straight up? Consider a specialty cocktail like the Blarney Stone, which is Jameson, house made ginger ale, and a float of grenadine. Another interesting concoction is the Jameson Manhattan, made with Jameson, sweet vermouth and a cherry.
Related: Best Sacramento Area Irish Pubs
Gallagher’s Irish Pub
1201 K St.
Hours: Lunch Mon to Fri – 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Dinner Mon to Sat 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sun – 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Located with The Broiler Steakhouse, Gallagher’s Irish Pub boasts 30 different scotch and Irish whiskeys on the menu, with some more obscure brands represented. The drinks can be on the pricey side here, so you can save some money on food by stopping by during the weekday happy hour.
The Broiler Steakhouse has been a local Sacramento institution since 1950. After losing the lease in 1999, it relocated to its present spot, with the original sign hanging over the entry. If you’re a fan of the food at The Broiler Steakhouse, you can actually order off the menu while sipping on a fine Irish whiskey at Gallagher’s.
Old Tavern Bar and Grill
1510 20th St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
Hours: Daily – 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.
This unassuming neighborhood joint is not where you might expect to find a good selection of Irish whiskey, but the Old Tavern Bar and Grill has been rated high among many Sacramento locals. If you are looking for a no frills bar with cheap shots, this is the spot. Music fans will also enjoy the internet jukebox at Old Tavern, which features a wide selection of 80s, 90s and present day hits. At only 50 cents a song, you can play all your favorites for hours while enjoying some fine Irish whiskey.
de Vere’s Irish Pub
1521 L St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Hours: Mon to Fri — 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sat to Sun — 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
St. Patrick’s Day — 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Without a doubt, de Vere’s Irish Pub is the spot for Irish whiskey in Sacramento. With 32 different Irish whiskeys available, de Vere’s does a magnificent job of providing Irish whiskey culture and education to Sacramento locals. It even offers a paid membership in de Vere’s Whiskey Society with frequent special events, dinners and tastings on-site.
For some mixed concoctions featuring Irish whiskey, try a Powers Sour. It’s made with John Powers Irish whiskey that is shaken with honey syrup and fresh lemon juice, and served over ice with a splash of soda water and a dash of Angostura Bitters. Another interesting whiskey cocktail is Irish Beautiful, which is Kilbeggan Irish whiskey and Irish Mist, served in a snifter.
If you are interested in delving into the entire culture of scotch, bourbons and the different types of whiskey, de Vere’s is the place. It offers one of the biggest selections of spirits in Sacramento and the staff is very knowledgeable, making de Vere’s the perfect spot to start your education on Irish whiskey and more.
Erin De Santiago is a freelance travel and food/wine writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. She is a regional membership coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and writes for a number of publications in addition to publishing her own blogs. She has traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in search of the best food and wine around the globe. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.