Welcome to this month’s Mixtape, featuring my favorite Jameson cocktail, my favorite band (it’s U2) and my husband’s favorite film franchise, The Fast and The Furious. It will all make sense eventually, I promise.
At the end of this month, I’ll travel to Nashville to see my favorite band of all time — U2 — perform at Bridgestone Arena. The show is part of their expansive Experience + Innocence Tour, in support of their latest album entitled Songs of Experience. I could write a book about this band and their music and how both have impacted my life in myriad ways, but don’t worry. I won’t bore you with those sappy details. (Not today at least!)
U2 never tours on my home turf and even though that particular turf has changed throughout the years, the fact remains the same: If I want to see U2, I have to hit the road. But, as you already know, I love to travel — so whenever U2 announces a new tour, I always make it a goal to try to attend a show in a new city where I haven’t seen them before. Sometimes due to timing or travel constraints it hasn’t always been possible (I’ve seen them twice in Chicago and Cleveland, for example), but this time around seeing them in Nashville for the first time worked out perfectly. And it’s even on a Saturday evening; talk about a gift from the music gods!
Of course, U2 is well-known as the third most popular thing to ever come out of Ireland, right behind Jameson and St. Patrick himself. Fun fact though — only two members of U2 were actually born in Ireland. Adam Clayton, the band’s steadfast bassist, originally hails from Chinnor, UK, and guitar virtuoso The Edge was born David Howell Evans in Barking, UK. But with the Emerald Isle on my mind and the next U2 show on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time to share my favorite Irish-inspired cocktail: The Brian O’Connor.
I call it that because of the obvious Irish nomenclature, and also in honor of Paul Walker’s character in the fast-paced and so-bad-they’re-good Fast & Furious films. My husband in particular is a huge fan of the series and was crushed when Paul Walker died tragically in a car accident nearly five years ago. So, in a small way, we honor Paul every time we enjoy this drink together. (Full disclosure: I actually called the drink the Brian O’Connell the first time around and my better half had to correct me. Oops. Sorry Paul!)
In my home, the first ingredient of any mixed drink is a giant, beautiful block of clear ice. Foggy, fridge-made ice cubes be gone! Store-bought clear ice is passable, but believe me when I say that nothing steps up your bevvy game faster than a huge chunk of ice in your tumbler. And it’s not only about aesthetics — a large section of ice melts slower and therefore doesn’t dilute your drink nearly as quickly as standard cubes. And best of all, making your own ice isn’t as hard as you might think. All you need is water, a cooler that will fit in your freezer and a hammer or other blunt tool to break apart the ice. Click here to watch the video that taught me everything I know.
The second necessity is a beautiful vessel for your libation. I love Pomegranate’s subtle Snaffle Bourbon Glass with its delicate etched pattern. Plus, the snaffle print really comes to life once a beverage is poured inside.
And without further ado… The Brian O’Connor:
1.5 ounces of Jameson Irish Whiskey
3-4 ounces of tonic depending on strength (also feel free to use diet–I usually do!)
1 tablespoon of Amarena cherry syrup
1 Amarena cherry
In addition to the ice, the Amarena cherries really make the magic happen in this drink. You may be tempted to replicate the recipe using the standard maraschinos hiding in a jar in the back of your fridge — but trust me when I tell you that the taste will not be the same. Grown in Italy in Bologna and Modena, the Amarena cherry is a small bitter dark cherry that is traditionally bottled in thick syrup and served over desserts. Plus, these delicious fruits aren’t as elusive as you might think — I bought my jar on Amazon. (And yes, they’re also wonderful over vanilla ice cream!)
Even though the Irish tend to lean toward the melancholy, I’ve tried to keep this month’s playlist relatively upbeat. It begins with a little-known song from The Joshua Tree called Red Hill Mining Town. The band was inspired to write it after experiencing Bruce Springsteen‘s early-80s melodies that eloquently captured and exposed the plight of America’s working class. The point in the song where Bono sings “Love slowly stripped away / Love has seen its better day” is my single favorite moment in any U2 song ever. And its message definitely still resonates today. The playlist concludes with a funky track from Achtung Baby that was never released as a single but remains one of the band’s favorite songs to perform live. Here’s hoping they play it for me in a few weeks in Nashville. Sláinte!
Red Hill Mining Town – U2
Don’t Look Back in Anger – Oasis
The Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Jealous Guy – John Lennon
The Loved One – INXS
Life in a Northern Town – Dream Academy
The Way It Was – The Killers
She’s a Rainbow – The Rolling Stones
The Cranberries – Linger
Landlady – U2
Tears and Rain – James Blunt
Karma Police – Radiohead
Love My Way – The Psychedelic Furs
1979 – Smashing Pumpkins
Only You – Yaz
No Light, No Light – Florence + The Machine
I and Love and You – Avett Brothers
Red Rain – Peter Gabriel
Cannonball – Damien Rice
Until the End of the World – U2
Stay tuned ’til next month, when I’ll make a return trip to NYC to experience a temporary exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum that honors a musical hero to millions and the original Starman: Mr. David Bowie.