Owners of the ‘World’s Best Bar’, The Dead Rabbit in New York, returned home last week to launch their highly anticipated new book, From Barley to Blarney, a Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland, and make a significant charitable donation to local people living with depression.
Authored by The Dead Rabbit’s Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, together with fellow Irish native and Irish whiskey expert Tim Herlihy, the book is an unprecedented portrait of 22 of Ireland’s distilleries and their bottlings, 50 of its renowned pubs, as well as recipes for 12 original Irish whiskey cocktails.
The hardbound book, which includes a history of whiskey-making in Ireland, as well as attractions to visit, chronicles the trio’s fact-finding trips and is the ultimate travel guide for whiskey enthusiasts, pub lovers and Hibernophiles.
Every step of the tour was documented by Belfast photographer, Elaine Hill, whose images grace the book. Drinksology, the Belfast firm behind The Dead Rabbit’s award-winning menus and its two cocktail tomes, designed the book. And, if the tone of the book seems familiar, it is because it was written by Conor Kelly, who also penned The Dead Rabbit: Mixology & Mayhem. The trio gathered the information and conducted the interviews, while Kelly brought everything together as a cohesive and witty literary whole.
To research the book, Muldoon, McGarry and Herlihy conducted two, month-long whirlwind tours in a VW bus driven by McGarry’s father. They logged over 4,000 miles, visited 111 pubs and every single working whiskey distillery on the island. Brief histories and profiles of the 22 distilleries and 50 pubs are included, from popular spots to lesser known hidden gems.
Amongst the local spots making the cut are The Old Bushmills Distillery and The Echlinville Distillery in Co Down. Meanwhile popular Belfast bars The Garrick, The Crown Bar, Maddens The Duke of York and Kelly’s Cellars feature alongside other top picks in the Ulster’s Great Irish Pubs section, including The House of McDonnell in Ballycastle (which generally only opens on Fridays), Johnny Joe McCollum’s in Cushendall, Frank Owen’s in Limavady, The Crosskeys Inn in Toomebridge and The Crown and Shamrock in Newtownabbey.
The official launch of the book took place at a special event at The Dublin Liberties Distillery on May 8, drawing guests from the four corners of Ireland. For North Belfast-born and bred Muldoon and McGarry, their homecoming provided an opportunity to raise awareness for a cause close to their hearts.
At the event, the pair presented a cheque for $10,000 to Northern Ireland depression charity, AWARE. The donation includes The Dead Rabbit’s royalties from all sales of The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey, which is produced at The Dublin Liberties Distillery. The donation came just ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs May 13-19.
“Having grown up in Ardoyne in North Belfast, where rates of depression and suicide are very high, we are very aware of the issues impacting the lives of people back home – and how mental health problems, if left untreated, can devastate families and communities,” said McGarry. “Over the years, I have had my own battle with depression and mental health. I’m fortunate that I have been able to access the support and services I have needed to aid my recovery but not everyone is that fortunate. We’re proud to support AWARE in their vital work, providing support to people with depression across Northern Ireland.”
Muldoon said: “We dedicated our first Dead Rabbit book to the kids in North Belfast whose worlds had been rocked by depression and suicide and we’re proud to continue to support this important cause. Jack has been very candid about sharing his story, helping to empower others to get support and the whole team at The Dead Rabbit are passionate about driving forward change around mental health.
“In addition to the donation that we have made to AWARE this week, we hope sharing this story will help to break down the stigma around mental health and encourage others to seek help when they need it.”
Karen Collins, chief executive of AWARE, said: “AWARE is delighted to receive this immensely generous donation from Dead Rabbit. Jack and Sean were keen to donate to a local Northern Ireland charity supporting people affected by depression. This comes from Jack’s own experience of mental ill health and the challenges this presented for him.
“They were keen to ensure that support could be offered to others experiencing mental health concerns. The money donated will enable to us to offer our support groups and wellbeing programmes to more people in Northern Ireland, which aim to promote positive mental health and help recovery from depression.”
For further information about the support services provided by AWARE, visit https://www.aware-ni.org/
The Dead Rabbit Presents: From Barley to Blarney: A Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland is available to purchase from The Dead Rabbit’s website and from Amazon.