Depending on your level of sobriety, potcheen can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
This strong spirit (90 proof) is found at only a few bars in Baltimore but Blarney Stone in Fells Point is where I learned to love it. Blarney's house shot, Bunratty Potcheen is used as a celebratory drink as well as a way to get obnoxious drunks out of the bar who can't handle their drink.
Only recently legal in Ireland, where it is produced, potcheen is basically Irish moonshine. A clear liquor that has an initially harsh flavor which mellows out to notes of green apple, it's a unique liquor. Chris "Iggy" Ichniowski, Blarney Stone's general manager, was introduced to potcheen after some friends brought him a bottle from Ireland. While drinking it in his tea while sick during a poker game, Iggy had a revelation. "My fever broke and I was the biggest winner of the night," he said. "It was on the shelves at the Stone that next week." It has been a love/love relationship since.
The drink made with Bunratty Potcheen is called a Raging Irishman, a shot of potcheen dropped in a glass of Flying Dog brewery's Raging Bitch IPA. The drink works because the bitterness of the IPA accentuates the green apple flavor. The combination is high-octane stuff; not for the weak of stomach. If you drink it starting the night out, it will be an eye opener. If you're drinking it as a night cap, it will be an eye closer.
How to Make a Raging Irishman
3/4 of a pint of Flying Dog's Raging Bitch Belgian IPA beer
1 shot of Bunratty Potcheen
Drop the shot of potcheen into the beer glass. Drink immediately. You can down it in one gulp or sip it to your heart's content. The choice is yours.
Where to Get It
704 S. Broadway, Fells Point
Shot of potcheen: $5
Raging Irishman: $8