For reasons that have to do generally with a love of the Irish people combined with a love of any excuse to cut loose, St. Patrick’s day in the United States has become more than a bit synonymous with quaffing a few (or more than a few) drinks with pals.
Interestingly, in Ireland itself there’s a more solemn side to the day, though my guess is a few swallows get consumed there as well. Was St. Patrick himself a fan of the spirituous liquors? Well, since he lived around 400 AD, it’s hard to know for sure (there was a decided lack of cell phone cameras for documenting). But let’s take it for granted that, after a hard day of driving out snakes and doing generally good deeds, he put up his sandals and relaxed with a full mug.
But what was the mug full with? And how best, in this scenario, to emulate our celebrated saint? I’m going to go out on an ashen limb and say that one thing we can be 99% sure of is that he didn’t drink beer that had been dyed green in some chemical manner.
I believe (with no history or science to back me up--but sometimes intuition is to be followed) that he probably liked a glass of wine flavored with a few herbs and spices or a couple of choice ingredients mingled with a glass of uisce beatha, the latter meaning water of life and where the word whiskey comes from if you trace it backwards. With that hypothesis firmly in place at the bar, let me suggest that you honor St. Patrick in a more fitting and jollier manner this year by having one of the following four cocktails at home or out and about, instead of the routine green beer.
It’s a crying shame that this is so over-shadowed by its cousin the Tom Collins. Help make up for years of neglect in one day. This is one to have at any bar that makes a reputable Tom Collins, such as Sun Liquor. Or, make it at home with this recipe (photo and recipe from Dark Spirits): Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add 2 ounces Irish whiskey, 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup. Shake well. Fill a Collins glass three quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with a lemon slice. Stir briefly, if desired.
Sipping this mix on St. Paddy’s is a double celebration, once for the country of Ireland and once for all those who marched singing this song in WWII. I would feel like singing if I ordered this at Tavern Law (1406 12th Ave.), where they stir masterfully. If making it at home, follow the following recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway with cracked ice. Add 1 ounce Irish whiskey, 1 ounce yellow Chartreuse, and 1 ounce sweet vermouth. Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass.
If the series of B-grade horror movies of the same name as this cocktail have you a wee smidge afraid of Leprechauns, don’t let that keep you away from this simple and worthy mixture. But you might want to order it at Liberty (517 15th Ave. E), which is safe and fairly well lit--just in case. If making while watching those movies on your home cinema, use this recipe, also from Dark Spirits: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add 2 ounces Irish whiskey, 1 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Shake well and then strain into a cocktail glass without any fear.
The Dublin 8
To have this memorable bubbler where it was birthed, you’ll need to travel to the 8th Street Tap Room in Lawrence, KS, where Jeremy Sidener tends bar. He invented the drink as a liquid flirtation tp serve to his future wife. With that in mind, I’d order this at a bar like the Rob Roy (2332 2nd Ave.), where you can wink at the bartenders without being ashamed. Or make it at home utilizing this recipe from Good Spirits: Fill a 10 ounce highball glass, or similarly-sized glass, three quarters up with ice cubes. Add 2 ounces Irish whiskey, 3 ounces fresh orange juice, and 3 ounces chilled ginger ale. Squeeze a lime wedge over the glass, and then drop it in. Stir gently. Garnish with a slice of lime.
You’ll notice that all of these use Irish whiskey. When picking which Irish to use, go for a reputable name, one with flavor to spare and that little kick that makes you take notice. A bottle with Bushmills or Powers or Tullamore Dew on the label won’t take you towards the wrong isle.
Finally, if you go into one of the above bars, it could be possible the bartender won’t be automatically conversant with the above recipes. If so, I’ll bet they’ll still be happy to whip it up for you, if you provide the ingredients needed and such. But please, do it in a kind manner. St. Patrick’s Day is, as mentioned, a drinking holiday, and so our bartenders are most likely overworked. Remember, without the fine women and men behind the bar, life would be awfully dull. So treat ‘em right.