Drink of the Week: The Gloom Lifter

The Gloom Lifter.David A. Embury opened his epochal “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” with these words: “Anyone can make good cocktails.” It’s clear that you don’t need to be a genius to do it, and I have often proven that point through some very non-genius behavior. Most recently, I seem to be unable to read a calendar, because I’ve been congratulating myself that today’s dandy Irish whiskey-based recipe would be just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. It was only when it was much too late that I realized this week’s DOTW post would be appearing on March 18th.

Anyhow, today’s drink does indeed come to us directly from Mr. Embury’s 1948 classic. It’s basically just a very simple take on a Whiskey Sour using Irish whiskey. Still, these very specific proportions seem to suit perhaps the most weirdly underused of all the most popular base spirits.

Indeed, I really don’t see any reason at all why Irish whiskey isn’t used more often. At least to my palette, its always agreeable taste profile is a hair less mellow than Canadian whiskey but definitely gentler and far more easily mixable than Scotch. It definitely works in my personal prescription for any lingering post-St. Paddy’s depression.

The Gloom Lifter

1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup or 1 1/4 teaspoons superfine sugar
1/2 ounce egg white (1 ounce of packaged egg white)

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice. First, shake the ingredients to properly emulsify the egg white, being careful to keep a good seal while you do so; the albumin in egg white can make for a potentially messy chemical reaction on the so-called dry shake. Next, add ice and shake vigorously. Embury tells us that 15 seconds is about the right amount of time for most drinks. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and contemplate how perfect this drink might be on March 17, 2017… which will fall on a Friday, so I’ll presumably be right on time for a change with a holiday-appropriate beverage.


Though DOTW Manor is simply floating in rum and tequila, no one’s been pushing Irish whiskey at me lately. I therefore found myself with only about half a bottle of Kilbeggan on hand when I first lifted my gloom. It was delightful, but I wanted to try a Gloom Lifter with one of the two best known brands here in the U.S. Since I’ve always been a bit partial to Belfast’s Bushmills, I perversely went with County Cork’s Jameson’s instead. Really, they’re both dandy and reasonably priced products. That’s important when I’m buying booze on my own.

Even so, I liked my results slightly better with the somewhat pricier Kilbeggan, though really, all of my Gloom Lifters hit the mark. This is an almost perfectly balanced cocktail. The slight sweetness of the Irish whiskey combined with the milky smoothness of the egg white blend almost too seamlessly. It might come out a bit less perfect if you go with sugar instead of simple syrup, but not so much that anyone would likely notice. In any case, the relatively generous amount of egg white for a whiskey sour also makes for a comforting foam cap, which reminds me of perhaps the greatest of all Irish whiskey beverages. Also, since this Gloom Lifter only contains a single 1.5 ounce shot of 80 proof booze, it’s not necessarily foolhardy to go big on this one. In fact, the pictured drink this week is a double-sized version I made for myself.

If the Gloom Lifter seems a bit overly simple for you, never fear. There’s actually a more gussied up version of this drink floating around. Stay tuned.