Dig Baton Rouge

Irish with a Twist

Olive or Twist shows us their favorite St. Paddy’s Day sips

St. Patrick’s Day seems like a no-brainer of a holiday. Wear some green, grab a six-pack, shout “Erin go bragh” until the six-pack is gone.

For mixologist John Morris, general manager at Olive or Twist, that’s also the easiest way to get the holiday wrong.

“Green beer,” he laughs, shaking his head. “Green beer or just Jameson shots is definitely doing the holiday wrong.”

Morris has spent a decade making cocktails in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and is currently passing those lessons along to the bartenders climbing the ladders at Olive or Twist. He said he loves spring on the craft cocktail scene because of the interesting flavors Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day allows them to play with.

“Lots of cinnamon, for the king cakes,” Morris said. “This time of year we get in peanut butter syrup so we can do some PB-and-J’s, with a little Jameson in there. We’re definitely Jameson heavy.”

It isn’t hard for the cocktail crafters at Olive or Twist to take a classic flavor like Irish whisky and run wild. During our interview, Morris asked his bartenders to each come up with a unique drink using Jameson. After about ten minutes of shaking and muddling they presented nearly a half-dozen whisky cocktails, a rainbow of flavor that also served as their own pots of gold.

One was a “Shamrock,” which was a creamy Jameson twist on a grasshopper using peanut butter, coffee, and branca menta. Another used Jameson for a slightly different turn on the classic boulvardier mix of sweet vermouth and campari. A third, spicier take, involved ginger, applejack and lemon to spike up the smooth whisky.

Morris took a turn at the shaker to make something you could even mix at home or confidently request at the bar; a “Jameson Smash”, which uses whisky, lemon, simple syrup, and mint to create an Irish cousin to the Mint Julip.

“I throw it all in the shaker, and let the ice bruise the mint,” he said. “The longer it sits, the more the flavors will mix.”

If stepping outside your Wearin’ Of The Green norm feels a little intimidating, Morris suggests you let your bartender be your guide. Olive or Twist’s most popular item is the Cocktail Roulette, where you tell the bartender what base spirit you want and let them craft something unique, bursting with flavor and personality—much like Morris’ staff is.

“You can tell them what flavors you like, what you don’t like,” he said. “They’re all really, really skilled, and unique in their method.”

Photos by Sean Gasser

Russell Jones

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