Anyone who's ever been to New York will know that there's so much to see it's hard to get it all done in one trip. From the Statue Of Liberty to the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge to name just a few, the sights are plentiful but if you've never stopped for a cocktail in The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog then you haven't fully completed the NYC experience.
Located just 300 metres from the New York port where Irish criminals ruled the streets back in the 1850s, the Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog is named after one of the most prominent gangs in Manhattan at the time.
And now, the owners want to bring a taste of the Big Apple back home to Ireland with a smooth new whiskey, named after the bar, which is launching on our shores this week.
The Dead Rabbit is the brainchild of Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry who were running a cocktail bar at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast back in 2010 when they were approached by a Galway man who worked for the New York Stock Exchange. He thought the lads were doing such a good job that their talents were wasted in little ol' Belfast and he offered to invest if they set up shop in NYC.
The Dead Rabbit finally set up Stateside in February 2013 and has done a roaring trade ever since, twice being named the world's best bar as well as the world's best cocktail bar.
A cocktail bar is not exactly how the owners see the place though as Sean told Lovin that "The place has got a complete Irish pub vibe. Only certain people go to cocktail bars but everyone likes going to pubs. We like to make everyone feel at home when they visit."
Sean and Jack have teamed up with Darryl McNally, a master distiller from the The Dublin Liberties Distillery, to create The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey which Darryl says is "made from a unique blend of Irish single malt and grain whiskeys."
The five-year-old super premium whiskey is a result of years of hard work and Sean can't wait for Irish people to get a taste:
"We’ve been endlessly fascinated by the development of the Irish whiskey category. The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey has been patiently waiting for five long years and we can’t wait to share it with Ireland.”
When it comes to whiskey, wood matters according to Darryl and that's especially true of The Dead Rabbit. The whiskey is aged in seasoned bourbon casks and then finished in small, specially made, virgin American oak barrels, resulting in real depth and character over a lingering note of bourbon vanilla sweetness.
So now that The Dead Rabbit has landed on our shores, what of the future of the New York venue which won the award for World's Best Cocktail menu at the 2015 Tales Of The Cocktail Awards (seen as the Oscars of the cocktail industry)?
Sean tells us of plans to expand by buying the building next door saying, "the bar is actually too busy at times so we really need the extra space."
Who knows, perhaps one day the lads will bring their supreme talents back to Ireland for good. We'd drink to that.
The limited-edition Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey (700ml) bottles will be available in select off-licences at a price of €55 and in top bars nationwide.