Despite the cocktail I created for her, the Whiskey Queen (Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den) is not actually a queen, and I'm not a king. That didn't stop us from briefly living like royals during a recent vacation in Ireland. We stayed two nights in Waterford Castle. That's right, a castle. On a private island. Cool, right? My exact words on seeing the place: "Holy (rhymes with mitt), this is awesome!"
What made the experience even more amazing is that Waterford Castle has a top notch cocktail program. We had no idea until we got there. It turns out Ilario Alberto Capraro, this year's National Cocktail Champion of Ireland, is the driving force behind the program. We had the pleasure of meeting Ilario in the Fitzgerald Room bar. Ilario is pleasant, a gentleman, and makes a hell of a good cocktail. He also trains his people well, as we had a good time meeting John, a newer bartender, our first night at Waterford Castle. The Fitzgerald Room, like Waterford Castle, isn't as big as it seems. The atmosphere is elegant without being stuffy.
All of the drinks at Waterford Castle are excellent, but I thought the standouts are Ilario's creations such as the Sweetheart Stout (main ingredients are Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and Guinness beer), the Oscar Wilde (you know, the Irish writer who coined the wonderful line "work is the curse of the drinking class"), the Originale (includes Irish whiskey, amaretto, lemon juice, and egg white), and the Donna Maria (if you like dark rum, you will love this one .... trust me).
As we discovered when we stumbled into Kol in Reyjavik, Iceland earlier this year, you never know when and where you might find a great cocktail. Now you know you can find one (ok, more than one) in Waterford Castle. All hail Ilario!