Hooley's Irish Bären

Hooley's Irish Bären
  • Hooley's Irish Bären

Hooleys Irish Pub & Grill La Mesa

5500 Grossmont Center Drive #277, La Mesa

The Irish Bären they make over at Hooley’s could just as well be called an “O’Jito.” According to Hooley’s bartender Austin Bell, his creation has all the properties of the traditional mojito but with a few changes in taste and texture that lend the Cuban favorite a bit of an Irish brogue.

The real difference between the two drinks, he says, is the honey-lemon flavor that transplants the mojito’s minted sweetness — and there’s a trick to extracting the fullness of the drink’s flavor from its ingredients.

“The Bärenjäger is thick, so once it’s in the cocktail tin, I want to make sure I get the rest of that residue out of it,” he says. “I take a half-ounce of soda water and graze the inside of the tin and then pour that on top of the drink so you get all the essence of the honey and lemons.”

Explaining how he first conjured up the concoction, Bell tells me that he was looking to give customers a different twist on the Irish whiskey that Hooley’s serves more commonly straight or on the rocks.

“Tullamore is the Irish whiskey we use for our well whiskey,” he says, “and so we started playing around with the stuff and started putting two and two together.”

The whiskey, Bell says, gives the drink its potency while the Bärenjäger endows the Bären with depth.

“It’s not so much citrusy and tart as it is sweet and mild,” he says. “You can’t even taste the whiskey in it. That was one thing that surprised me. You can taste that it has a little kick to the drink. The whole thing comes together perfectly.”

Kitchen Proof: The whiskey’s peat, while a little understated, ties well to the classic combination of honey and lemon. Try upping the quantity of Tullamore to yield an even larger, more flavorful pot o’ gold.

Austin Bell

Austin Bell

Hooley’s Irish Bären

  • In a shaker combine:
  • 1¼ oz Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
  • ½ oz Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
  • 2–3 fresh squeezed lemons
  • ¼ oz peach schnapps

Shake well and pour contents (unstrained) into a pint glass filled ¼ of the way with ice, and top with soda.

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