Perfect Cocktails to Accompany Six Special Moments at Ashford Castle in Ireland

by James Stevenson

Some friends of ours recently vacationed in Ireland and we caught up with them over drinks on their return to uncover how remarkable their trip was. Of course they drank a lot of whiskey and visited museums during their stay, but one experience stood out above the rest. In County Mayo, Ireland Ashford Castle is a beautiful 13th Century castle, which today serves as a grand 83-room hotel offering effortlessly stunning 5-star restaurants and bars throughout the property along with a variety of activities.

Ashford Castle played on our minds and once we looked up the property online we were in awe of everything they offer and the beautiful estate that was constantly expanded by the different owners over the centuries, creating a structure with character derived of many distinctive influences.

We were obviously inspired to create some cocktails together with our friends re living their experiences one day at a time. They were there for 6 days so we went through these one by one taking the highlights of each day and concocting a drink that would suit each perfectly. Below are the 6 drinks we created that evening with a summary of the daily experiences that inspired them.

The first day they woke up at Ashford Castle in the late morning as they had a relaxed tee time on the parkland Golf Course. Being amateur golfers it took them a while to complete the 9 holes and afterwards they decided to take it easy and unwind with a whiskey and a Montecristo on the Cigar Terrace, which just happens to over look the River Cong from one of the rooftop corners of the castle. We created this Nouvelle Carre to emulate what would have been a great cocktail to sip on and unwind.

Nouvelle Carre

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce Irish whiskey
  • 1 ounce Cognac
  • 1 ounce Bianco Vermouth
  • 2 dashes of aromatic bitters
  • orange zest for oils and garnish

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients to mixing glass
  • Stir mixture then strain over fresh ice
  • Express the orange zest then garnish

Day 2 was even more relaxing with an entire afternoon at the Ashford Castle luxury Spa being pampered while looking over Lough (lake) Corrib. Feeling rejuvenated they spent a few hours enjoying the tranquility of the spa until it was time for dinner at the classically elegant George V Dining Room. This Grapefruit French 75 is designed to transport you to the comfortable seats of the dining room.

Grapefruit French 75

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce of Gin
  • ½ ounce of grapefruit juice
  • ¼ ounce of simple syrup
  • top with champagne

Instructions:

  • Add gin, grapefruit juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker with ice
  • Shake mixture then strain into champagne flute
  • Top with champagne
  • Garnish with fresh wedge of grapefruit

On the 3rd day they went all out and splurged on a romantic night at the Lakeside Cottage; an old boat house that has been refurbished and converted into a secluded habitation for those who really want to get away from everything. Of course they were not left alone entirely and were waited on hand and foot while dining al fresco on the wood terrace with a personal chef catering to their every need. A romantic evening was had (we will spare you the details) and this Lemon Rose Martini certainly mimics the occasion.

Lemon Rose Martini

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces of vodka
  • ½ ounce of lemon juice
  • ½ ounce of lemon simple syrup
  • 1 dash of rose water

Instructions:

  • Add vodka, lemon juice, lemon simple syrup, and rose water to a cocktail shaker with ice
  • Shake mixture then strain into serving glass
  • Garnish with lemon slice and rose petals

Four days in and there are still more adventures to be had; this evening they spent a few hours relaxing in the comfortably padded wing back chairs in the Prince of Wales Bar attempting to recover from a half day trail ride endeavoring to exploring the best parts of the 350 acre Ashford Castle Estate. While recuperating by the fireplace in luxury they describe the surroundings to be sophisticated and evidence of the rich history that can be seen everywhere you look. Guinness is popular here, not only because of its proud Irish history but the family actually owned the property from 1915 to 1939. We created the Honey Old Fashioned to replicate the sophistication of the venue in a glass.

Honey Old Fashioned

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces of Irish Whiskey
  • 2 dashes of aromatic bitters
  • ½ ounce of honey syrup

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice
  • Stir mixture then strain over fresh ice
  • Garnish with orange peel wrapped in rosemary

They had seen the estate on horseback and now it was time to explore Lough Corrib; and what better way than on ‘Cranki’, a 40ft luxury motor-yacht. They spent the day luxuriating on the deck catching the Irish summer rays with the wind in their hair and nothing on their minds but the serene beauty of the surrounding lake and countryside. Occasionally the yacht stopped allowing them to enjoy a bite to eat and the occasional pint, however we think this Caramelized Pineapple Mojito would have been more appropriate to be sipping on.

Caramelized Pineapple Mojito

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces of rum
  • ½ ounce of caramelized pineapple simple syrup
  • ½ lime juice
  • 5 mint leaves plus more for garnish
  • Top with pineapple juice

Instructions:

  • Add rum, caramelized pineapple simple syrup, lime juice, and mint leaves to a cocktail shaker with ice
  • Shake mixture then fine strain cocktail over ice
  • Top with fresh pineapple juice
  • Garnish with mint and fresh pineapple wedge

Our friends enjoyed cruising around Lough Corrib so much that on their final day they took a much more subdued tour one of the traditional hand crafted wooden boats and discovered the beautiful islands closer to Ashford Castle. As an additional special touch to the day they found that their guide Frank actually builds these boats himself. Once back to the estate they had a light lunch at the Drawing Room over looking the perfectly manicured lawns and reminisced upon the events of the past week. To accompany the light lunch we created a Tea & Marmalade Punch that would have matched the experience immaculately.

Tea and Marmalade Punch

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of vodka
  • 2 cups of cooled lemon tea
  • ½-1 cup of orange marmalade simple syrup depending on taste preference (add equal parts of marmalade and water to a sauce pan and heat until mixture because a syrup)
  • 1 bottle of champagne
  • 2 cups of lemonade
  • 3 cups of ice

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients except champagne to a punch bowl
  • Stir mixture then top with champagne
  • Add edible flowers and sliced lemons for the garnish
  • Serves: 16 depending on the serving glass used

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