March 17 is marked on every calendar for the imbiber who enjoys an excuse to belly up to a bar all day. Over the years, St. Patrick’s Day festivities have escalated to monumental proportions in some cities.
The day began as a celebration of the death of the popular patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. Once the Catholic church lifted the restrictions of Lent on St. Patrick’s Day, indulgence became a part of the tradition. Massive feasts, parades and drinks were all forgiven on this day in March. The one day during Lent where alcohol consumption was allowed gave way to a party of irish proportions.
The Irish are world renowned for their tolerance and love for drinks. They produce some of the best beer and whiskey in the world. If you are going to drink on March 17, there is no reason to drink anything other than the world-class beverages made in Ireland.
Guinness, the pride and joy of Irish beer, is the go-to choice for St. Patrick’s Day. A specific way of pouring, resting and finishing the beer has given it a place among the best beers in the world. It is also the most misunderstood beer in the bar.
Guinness has an alcohol content of 4.2 percent, or roughly that of a domestic light beer. It also only packs 15 more calories than the same domestic light beer. The myths about it packing more of punch or being more filling is folklore. While the deep, rich flavor may provoke certain assumptions and attract certain palates, Guinness is very user-friendly for an all-day affair.
The only other two acceptable Irish brews are Harp Lager and Smithwick’s Irish Ale (do not pronounce the “w”). Harp is the lighter of the three and used commonly in the black and tan, shandy and snakebite. It has a slightly more bitter flavor than the American light-colored beers. It is more of a true lager in its profile.
Smithwick’s falls directly in the middle of Guinness and Harp. It has a golden-brown color and a smooth and approachable flavor. It is the most mispronounced beer in the bar and one that needs more attention.
Hard cider is a common draft choice in the pubs of Ireland. Magners Irish Cider is the premiere, authentic Irish cider in America. Made from apples and brewed to 4.5 percent, it is most commonly served over ice. It’s a sweeter, more palatable adult beverage if you need to go all day and is found in drinks like the snakebite, lager and cider mixed.
The real gem of Ireland is whiskey. Its unique flavor, approachable price and consistent quality have made brands like Jameson, Bushmills and Tullemore Dew some of the best-selling spirits in America.
Irish whiskey is smoother and sweeter than Scottish whiskey. It is distilled three times but never with peat, which gives it that ultra-smokey flavor. It is perfect in a shot or on the rocks.
Most people overlook the fact that Irish whiskey is the perfect whiskey for a cocktail. This time of year, the Honeysuckle cocktail is a perfect way to get into Irish whiskey.
These are craft renditions of Irish drinks that utilize the flavor in the whiskey. Hands down, Guinness and Irish whiskey are the pride of Ireland when it comes to traditional drinking. Bailey’s Irish Cream also has a place in our sweet shooters and after-dinner cravings.
Bailey’s is used for texture, sweetness and a little alcohol. Often used to ruin good beer in the Irish Car Bomb, Bailey’s get mixed reviews among the real Irish drinkers. Most prefer to get on with it and go for something with more of a punch.
We love to Americanize holidays that sell more booze. Ireland is chock full of great beverages and St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to explore them. From beer to cider to whiskey, there is, seemingly, something for everyone.
Be the real deal. Order Irish. Cheers!