What’s Love Got to Do with it? Great (Ingredient) Couples for an Exceptional Bar Experience

At the most romantic time of the year, our attentions and conversations are drawn to the subject of love in many different ways. This lead me to some self-introspection of the flavours and liquids I love, of those I utilise in the daily undertaking of my business and how this love guides me whilst creating and enjoying the same.

What’s love got to do with it? Not just lyrics from a song but a good lead for the question posed. We often do not know what we like/love or indeed why we like/love what we do. Our preferences are riddled with subconscious biases, easily swayed by social influences and current trends.

Influence from social media and the internet now has even greater impact, in our modern society where every man or woman wields this influence.

We all have “love” for things; drinks, food, specific flavours. Some might say “Love” is too strong a word to use, “like”, “enjoy”or “favour” might be better.

Whatever the terminology, scientists have proven that the chemical and biological reactions that we experience whilst in love or being expressive of love is the same as the reactions we under go from eating or drinking something we enjoy. Love in my opinion isn’t that clinical, but as humans the expressive language we use to emote pleasure and fondness to foods and drinks and people is similar, yet worlds apart!

Our love of things, flavours, etc., stems from family input in most parts. The education of the world as we grow, their loves and like and dislikes, social learning at its core our tastes developing and changing as we grow. A personal evolution, which has been aided and led by ease of global travel, access to information, world food trends, amongst a plethora of other influences. Our modern society is better educated about the drinks and spirits that we love, to which education and access to information have proven to be influential factors.

The “Irish Coffee Syndrome”

The explosion of the popularity of gin is down in part to social learning, case in point. Yeah, what was previously the love of a few is now the preference of many. Although something that the older generation quaffed, gin at the time was considered old fashioned.

Nowadays modern bars, and creative bartenders have made it more exciting with a barrage of unique botanicals in the mix and a medley of garnishes adorning the glass in the Spanish style. This is now happening across the board of all spirits and liqueurs, simple and nouveau ways to serve and enjoy all our beloved tipples and this new thinking can be seen with new mixers and flavours becoming available.

Whats Love Got to Do with it Great Ingredient Couples for an Exceptional Bar Experience (1)

This approach to serving has lit the fire under certain segments of the bar offering, because of a simple phenomenon I like to call “Irish coffee syndrome”. The appealing look draws people in.

In my youth to upsell the Irish classic, we would make a faux Irish Coffee and walk through the bar and immediately the orders would fly in. A unique societal peer pressure has meant more people follow the masses in their drinks choices in part to fit in and not be left out. And then this is leaving the non-conformists to move on and find the next drink or taste sensation guided by the brands in part but lead by your friendly neighbourhood bartender.

In Bartenders we Trust…

I’ve always been influenced and inspired by the past and specifically my family. I’m a great believer in that you can’t know where you are going unless you know where you’ve come from.

As a result, the flavours I grew up with have stuck with me evolving as I’ve gotten older.

It’s this medley of old and new that I use to create interesting drinks, a balance of classic drinks with a modern elegance. More than anything, the key is always being open to learning and trying new flavours!

It Takes Two

Some of my favourite tipples can be found to be of the simple nature, two ingredients, two complementary flavours. Some are based from the DNA of the base spirit, as I always found the best pairings come from thoroughly understanding the spirits and innate flavours of those liquids that I love. This is similar to how wine aficionados pair wine to food.

The following are some of my favourite pairings offered in the view of exploration and shared enlightenment covering a variety of approaches. Enjoy!

Rum and Chocolate

50 ml Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva Rum neat or on the rocks.
– And some good chocolate on the side.

This is a complementary serve due to the rich nature of the rum finds a perfect pairing with dairy milk chocolate or dark chocolate for a comparative experience.

Chocolate is a great pairing for great rums and works really well with aged single malt Irish.

Whiskey, Fruits and Nuts

 50 ml Tullamore dew Xo rum cask
– Macadamia nuts and or dried cranberries and or raisins

The consumption of food and wine goes hand in, but this focused approach of being selective with a small food offering with specific spirits, enhances the whole experience. Each of the recommended brings out different notes, and visa versa.

Gin & Tonic

 35 ml Glendalough Gin
 100 ml Fevertree elderflower tonic(garnish with Pink Grapefruit) or Schweppes 1783 Cucumber tonic(garnish with Cucumber) or Poachers Citrus(garnish with Rosemary)

The new wave of artisan spirits being created in Ireland has exploded and now the mixer game has been raised, with producers creating and bringing to market more focused, complementary, creative mixers. These G&T variants utilises the flavour profile of the gin as a guideline for the mixers utilised to express different flavours.

Whiskey and Coconut Water

 50 ml Tullamore Dew XO Rum cask
 50 ml Coconut water

Instead of using water or ice to cut my new favourite tipple, I’ve found using chilled coconut water adds depth and makes the experience more enjoyable. The salinous nature of the coconut water helps highlight so much more in the flavour profile of the whiskey. And the serve was inspired by the heritage story of the liquid. Can be served neat or on the rocks, just be aware of over dilution.

The new xo rum cask is a nouveau blend, The combination of Irish heart and Caribbean soul. And this simple serve reflects that.

Tequila and Salty Lemon

 35 ml Jose Cuervo Silver Tequila
 100 ml Schweppes 1783 Salty lemon Tonic

The salinous citric nature of the tonic is reminiscent of the base flavours of a margarita, this simple yet explorative mix, highlights the growth of Tequila in popularity across the world and favourite of mine for simplistic ease, but tastes great. Again an increased love of more distinctive flavours has seen Tequila grow exponentially.

Black Velvet

 1 Part Guinness
 2 parts Champagne

Guinness is creamy, but when you add it to Champagne or prosecco, its fruitiness emerges as well. The proportions are roughly two parts Champagne or good Prosecco at a pinch to one part Guinness.

A drink, which always reminds me of my bar heritage! And I’ve a love for all it’s parts , separately and together. This for me is a simple, explorative and reminiscent gem!


darren geraghtyDarren Geraghty, is the Bar Manager and cocktail specialist for Candlelight Bar @ Siam Thai Dundrum and Malahide and well-respected consultant, started his career in 2000 and has represented Ireland on the world cocktail stage and won numerous Irish titles.

At Candlelight Bar, he has built the brand and bar team, focusing on of high quality but reasonably priced drinks, excellent customer service and a distinctive splash of speakeasy styled flair and theatre. The award winning Candlelight Bar has secured two for the Irish Craft Cocktail Bar Awards Best in Leinster 2016 and 2017, RAI Best Cocktail Experience and Sky Bar Awards Best Restaurant Bar 2017.

Candlelight Bar Candlelight Bar



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