A riff on Ireland's whiskey and red lemonade | Michigan Radio
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A riff on Ireland's whiskey and red lemonade

Mar 16, 2021

In Ireland, a popular drink is whiskey mixed with red lemonade. What is red lemonade? Well, it’s sort of like Sprite or 7Up, but it’s red.

Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings did not use Irish whiskey or red lemonade in this drink. Instead, she used a blend of Michigan whiskeys and her own riff on red lemonade.

Wonderland Distilling in Muskegon used other Michigan whiskeys for a unique blend.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Let’s start with the whiskey. Wonderland Distilling, in Muskegon, sent Tammy a sample of a blended whiskey. Being a new distiller, Wonderland’s own whiskey is maturing in barrels. In the meantime…

“They have been sourcing whiskey from other Michigan distilleries and then blending them together,” Tammy explained.

Wonderland’s website described it like this:

“A custom blend of local whiskeys from hand-selected barrels – 100 percent Michigan rye and Michigan wheat whiskeys, combined with 100% corn bourbon whiskey, aged separately and small batch blended at our Muskegon distillery.”

Tammy says Wonderland is putting some effort and thought into the blend. Using different grains to make whiskey is common. Taking a whiskey made entirely of one kind of grain and mixing it with another whiskey that uses one kind of grain is the twist in this case.

“Rather than blending those grains at the productions stage, they’re blending them at the bottling stage instead,” she said.

Tammy's riff on Ireland's whiskey and red lemonade.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

I always thought blended whiskey was a blend of one distillery’s various barrels. Apparently blending other distilleries' whiskeys for a unique taste is fairly common. Huh. You learn something new every day.

Wonderland’s blend is smooth and reminded Tammy of certain Irish whiskeys, the kind that would be mixed with red lemonade in an Irish bar.

Tammy said she’d make her own version of red lemondade.

“I use grenadine instead of just red food coloring and (add) lemon and club soda,” she said. (Make your own grenadine with the recipe below.)

She adds there’s absolutely no resemblance to an Irish whiskey red lemonade.

The resulting drink is refreshing. Because the whiskey is so smooth, I thought it would get watered down by the club soda or overwhelmed by the grenadine and lemon juice. It turns out it all works together and the whiskey comes through when you taste the drink.

Whiskey & Red Lemonade
2 oz whiskey (we used Wonderland Distilling's "blend of straight whiskies")
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz grenadine (see below)
2 oz club soda
Garnish: grated cinnamon stick
Combine all except soda in shaker with ice. Shake, strain into highball glass. Add club soda and fill with ice. Garnish.

Grenadine: Heat 1/2 cup POM or other pomegranate juice with 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan just until sugar dissolves. Optional: add 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses. Let cool and store refrigerated. Yield: 6 oz

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.