Weekly Cocktail #44: Wild-Eyed Rose

Wild-Eyed Rose cocktail.

Wild-Eyed Rose cocktail.

(Note: Before you read on, we suggest you visit Liquid Culture Project and read about the Ile Saint-Honorat, one of the best cocktails we’ve had in quite a while. Then come back and see us.)

St. Patrick’s Day is coming, and while we are not big fans of the holiday (we explain below), we decided to play around a bit with Irish Whiskey. And this can be a bit of a tough task. Irish Whiskey is very tasty stuff, but is basically known for smooth flavor. Good for sipping on its own, or alongside a good beer (and we are all for a shot and a beer sometimes). But since Irish Whiskey lacks the smoke of Scotch, the spice of rye or the sweet of bourbon, it can get lost in many cocktails. With that in mind, there just aren’t that many cocktails that lead with Irish Whiskey.

wild5wild4But we do have the internet and an ever-growing stack of cocktail books to look through and it didn’t take long to find the Wild-Eyed Rose (we found it at Alcademics). This cocktail is a simple combination of Irish Whiskey, lime juice and grenadine. And, at first, you can look at this recipe and think it is one of the thousands of basic cocktail “trios” of spirits, sweet and sour. But on further inspection, there is a little more going on here, and the cocktail comes with a decent back story.

wild3wild2The recipe for the Wild-Eyed Rose is interesting in a number of ways. Firstly, it uses lime juice with whiskey, rather than the more traditional lemon juice. Secondly, it uses a whole lot of lime juice, a full ounce balanced against two ounces of whiskey and a half ounce of grenadine. This is a dry and strikingly sour sip, but you get just enough sweet at the end to keep you coming back (it certainly isn’t cloying). A good cocktail to start the evening and get your taste buds going. And the lime and cherry garnish is visually appealing (we are suckers for that kind of thing). Finally the drink came from famous pre-prohibition bartender Hugo Ensslin and his cocktail book “Recipes for Mixed Drinks“, so the cocktail comes from a master (CORRECTION: Ensslin wanted only the juice of 1/2 a lime- other recipes changed the original. Thanks to Doug Ford for the real scoop.) As for the name of the drink, it is a riff on the song “My Wild Irish Rose”, and as names go, it’s pretty good.

wildBut this does get us to the whole St. Patrick’s Day thing. We love Irish people, food, spirits and beer, but we don’t need an excuse or a specific date to enjoy them. We suggest you enjoy them when you damn well please want. In fact, we have similar thoughts about all the “drinking holidays”. Celebrating with family and good friends over quality food and drink is something we should do whenever we can, and not just when the calendar says it’s OK. Any day we wake up is a day worth some celebration. We bet St. Patrick would agree.

wild1The Wild-Eyed Rose:

(From Hugo Ensslin)


  • 2 oz. Irish whiskey
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice (OR 1/2 oz for a sweeter sip)
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine (recipe to make your own)
  • Lime wedge for garnish
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain (or double-strain) into a chilled cocktail glass, flute or coupé. Garnish with a lime wedge and maraschino cherry.

19 thoughts on “Weekly Cocktail #44: Wild-Eyed Rose

  1. Great post as usual. Your description makes me want to go out and buy some Irish whiskeys, but we’re pretty heavily stocked with the American and Scotch (drunk always neat) kind at the moment. Agree that any day should be celebrated (and a great drink is a bonus).

    • Thanks- there is always time to try more whiskey (and the bottles do seem to empty over time). We like the Irish whiskey, but rye has become our dark liquor of choice…at least for now.

      • We have drank plenty of Irish whiskeys and usually have a giant bottle of Tullamore Dew around (extremely quaffable at a great price point), just not now for some reason. We are totally with you on the Ryes :-).

    • It is worth trying. Any whiskey / lime combo can be a challenge, but it also is a surprising flavor. We always like to try non-traditional combos, sometimes they work. I would use good or homemade grenadine, if you can.

      But that first sip will be a bit of a sour-bomb…

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