Two cities, two events, one night

Today is International Poitín Day and new innovations, influenced by the original Irish spirit, shrouded in a long history of mystery, are poised to make a splash in coming years. 
International Poitín Day is part of Failté Ireland’s Taste the Island initiative.

International Poitín Day is part of Failté Ireland’s Taste the Island initiative.

This fifth iteration of International Poitín Day  fifth iteration has been bolstered by the opening of Dublin’s Bar 1661, the flagship for Irish Poitín.

Named after the year Poitín was banned, by reclaiming the story of Poitín from the underground, Bar 1661 aims to create a permanent home for Ireland’s native spirit.

Bar 1661 was founded by native Dubliner Dave Mulligan who has over 20 years’ experience in bars. In 2011 he joined London’s thriving cocktail scene and began to take an interest in Poitín after a trip home and a toast in his father’s native Sligo. Fascinated with the history of the spirit he went on to establish himself as an ambassador for the emerging Poitín category, realising its potential as an alternative to white spirits in cocktails and going on to found his own brand, Bán Poitín.

Originally started in collaboration with The Sun Tavern in London, home of the UK’s largest legal collection of Poitín and Bán Poitín (the brand behind Bar 1661), International Poitín Day is dedicated to the original Irish moonshine and the rebellious souls who kept it alive during its days of illegality.

An all-day cocktail, Irish Whiskey and fine ale infused drinking den, The Sun Tavern is an East London institution, founded in 1851 on Bethnal Green Road and reborn through renovation and restoration in 2014. A neighbourhood bar that honours its roots, The Sun Tavern offers classically-inspired cocktails, London’s largest selection of Irish Whiskey and the UK’s largest collection of Poitín.

International Poitín Day 2019 will be marked this year with a simultaneous bar swap between The Sun Tavern in London and Bar 1661 in Dublin. From 5pm bartenders Ross Painter and Jamie Jones from The Sun Tavern will be taking over Bar 1661 while Gillian Boyle and Luke O’Meara from Bar 1661 will be bringing a taste of Green Street to Bethnal Green as they step behind the bar at The Sun Tavern. Poitín Afficinado Tommy Cummins will lead a Poitín-tasting at The Sun Tavern at 7pm while Bán Poitin founder Dave Mulligan does the same at Bar 1661.

An ancient farm-based spirit made in a single pot still, it takes its name from the Irish word ‘pota’, meaning ‘little pot’.

First made by monks in the 6th Century it was banned in 1661 by the British Crown, driving it underground. Despite this, Poitín lived on, remaining in the shadows of Irish culture, but known and consumed in every townland in Ireland.

In 1997, the product was finally legalised, once it was produced by craft distillers in line with certain standards, heralding a new chapter.

Sponsoring the bar swap are the leaders of the category — Mad March Hare Irish Poitín, winner of Best Irish Poitín at the Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 and Bán Poitín, winner of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 accolade. A collaborative menu of six Poitín cocktails has been created.

Poitín was granted Geographical Indicative Status by the EU in 2008, making Poitín protected at an EU level in a similar manner to Champagne which means it must be made in Ireland and abide by a set production process to be labelled and sold as “Poitín”.

Its resurgence as an ideal white spirit for use as a base in cocktails has seen its popularity grow and the spirit embraced in cocktail bars globally.

“Poitín is emerging from the shadows, with a brighter future in which it will be further recognised as one of Ireland’s iconic drinks, with quality brands and made by forward-looking distilleries,” commented Vincent McGovern, Head of Drinks Ireland|Spirits, describing Poitín as “perfect for use as a base in cocktails”.


International Poitín Day is part of Failté Ireland’s Taste the Island initiative.


Sign Up for Drinks Industry Ireland

Get a free weekly update on Drinks Industry trade news, direct to your inbox. Sign up now, it's free