12 Irish-Inspired Cocktails To Enjoy On St. Patrick's Day

Corned beef hash and Irish stew. Leprechauns and pots of gold. Celtic tunes and Irish jigs. Boisterous celebrations awash in vibrant shades of green. For hundreds of years — dating back to 1631, to be exact — St. Patrick's Day was celebrated as a feast on March 17th to honor Ireland's patron saint. The original religious celebrations were a far cry from the vibrant, whiskey-fueled, green-hued festivities characteristic of the St Paddy's Day we know and love today. It wasn't until 1798, the year of the Irish Rebellion, that Ireland and St. Patrick's Day's affiliation with green was officially cemented.

As Irish immigrants moved to the United States, they brought St. Patrick's Day traditions. These traditions eventually evolved into contemporary secular celebrations with Irish-inspired libations including Guinness, emerald-colored cocktails, and of course, Jameson. 

And. what is a St. Paddy's Day celebration without a splash of Jameson in our glass or one of Ireland's other beloved beverages? So, whether you're hosting a St. Patrick's Day party or simply looking to bring a little Irish cheer to the day, here's some inspiration to whet your palate and help you toast to March 17th.

1. Irish coffee

Kick off your St. Patrick's Day fun with one of Ireland's most famous cocktails. While the exact details of its origins are debatable, Irish coffee was supposedly created in the 1940s at Foynes Airbase in County Limerick, Ireland. According to the story, a group of American passengers disembarked from a seaplane at the Foynes airport terminal to take shelter from inclement weather. In hopes of keeping his customers warm, Joe Sheridan — the chef at the airport's restaurant — concocted a warming elixir to soothe their spirits. He served a smooth blend of coffee, Irish whiskey, and some extra cream and sugar to satisfy their American taste buds. A few years later, a San Francisco-based travel writer visited Foynes and brought the inspiration for the drink back to the Bay, where they recreated Sheridan's coffee concoction.

Many decades later, Irish coffee remains a well-loved beverage. There's no better occasion to whip one up than on St. Paddy's Day. The base drink includes black coffee mixed with Irish whiskey and a spoonful of brown sugar. Stir in a splash of Bailey's to make it creamy. If you're feeling extra crafty, make some Bailey's infused whipped cream to top your Irish coffee with. The cozy drink is a perfect nightcap to finish your day of St. Patrick's Day fun.

2. Irish mule

The well-beloved Moscow mule, featuring just three ingredients, was born in 1941 from a scheme to help vodka and Smirnoff gain some notoriety. About 75 years after it was first imagined, the O.G. Moscow Mule skyrocketed in popularity and even started a trend of globally inspired mule drinks. These beloved cocktails have wiggled their way onto cocktail menus far and wide, with many variations that swap out vodka for other liquors. Kentucky mule uses bourbon, Mexican mule uses tequila, and Irish mule uses Jameson (or another Irish whiskey).

To get your Irish mule cheer on for St. Patrick's Day, fill a copper mug with ice and add your desired amount of Irish whiskey over the ice. Top the mug off with a healthy pour of spicy ginger beer and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. A lime slice and a sprig of fresh mint make for a very green final touch. For another twist to the classic mule, add a few slices of green apple to the bottom of the mug before making the drink. The green apple adds tart and juicy notes that balance a smooth Irish whiskey, the bite of spicy ginger beer, and the citrus of the lime. The extra splash of green is a welcome touch for the occasion. 

3. Irish old fashioned

While the rich, caramel notes of bourbon are characteristic of an old fashioned, this tried and true libation has undergone many experiments and seen many variations over the years. In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, dare to step outside the box and mix up this classic cocktail with an Irish twist. Switch out the bourbon for an Irish whiskey. The drink's flavor profile is largely the same as vanilla, caramel, and oak flavors will still be present. The subtle switch results in a drink with more bite –  the perfect toast to St. Patrick and Ireland on March 17th. 

Choose a smooth Irish whiskey with a similar flavor profile to bourbon. The rich and complex Jameson Black Barrell is a fantastic option. Pour the whiskey over a large ice cube, drop in a sugar cube, add a few drops of orange or Agostino bitters, and give it a stir. Twist an orange peel over the cocktail for fresh and aromatic citrus essence and top it off with an amarena cherry. Slainte!

4. Irish Negroni

This is for the cocktail connoisseur who likes an herbaceous drink with a touch of bitterness. An expertly crafted Negroni cocktail is hard to beat. Although it has been around for over a century, the Negroni has only found popularity in the United States in the past decade or so. Despite its Italian roots, you can certainly make it Irish. The sweet vermouth and Campari combination are the key ingredients in this drink, so swapping the gin for an Irish whiskey is not only harmless, it is a rather delicious alternative.

Although the sophistication of this ruby-red drink may fool you into thinking it is complicated to craft, it is simpler than one imagines. The Negroni only requires three ingredients. For an Irish Negroni, you'll need sweet vermouth, Campari, and Irish whiskey. The key is to choose a quality whiskey to ensure smoothness and avoid any peated whiskies, which would dominate the cocktail's flavor profile. Measure out equal parts of all three ingredients into a glass, add a few ice cubes, and stir. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass and serve neat or over a single, large ice cube. As far as garnishes go, a dehydrated orange wheel, a slice of fresh orange, or a twist of orange peel will do the trick.

5. Dublin Minstrel

If you're an aspiring mixologist in search of a creative cocktail to try your hands at making this St. Paddy's Day, look no further than the Dublin Minstrel. The drink is so stunningly green that it might just remind you of a cup full of shamrocks. The Dublin Minstrel is an Irish take on the Last Word cocktail, a drink that was highly popular during the pre-Prohibition era. This intoxicating cocktail balances sweet, sour, and herbal notes, using gin, green Chartreuse, lime juice, and maraschino cherry juice. Since the Last Word's revival in the early 2000s, many variations of the classic drink have emerged. One of those is the Dublin Minstrel, which uses Irish whiskey in place of the gin. 

To make your Dublin Minstrel, start by selecting your Irish whiskey of choice. The liquor's well-rounded, nutty spiced notes make Busker triple cask triple smooth an interesting whiskey to use in this drink. Pour one part whiskey, two-thirds part green Chartreuse, two-thirds part lime juice, and two-thirds part maraschino cherry juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it well until it is nice and chilled and strain it into a chilled glass. Add fresh mint leaves or a twist of lime peel for the perfectly green finishing touch to this stunning drink.

6. Irish julep

A mint julep cocktail is a smooth and refreshing libation that is best sipped on a sunny afternoon. The original cocktail has roots in the American South as the drink of choice for the Kentucky Derby and goes back even further in time when it was used as a health elixir in ancient Persia. In more recent years, many variations of this bourbon mint libation have popped up. Make your julep Irish on March 17th by swapping out the bourbon for an Irish whiskey. Jameson, Tullamore Dew, or any of your favorite Irish whiskies are a suitable sub that offers a lighter and smoother profile than bourbon. The combination of Irish whiskey and a bunch of green mint leaves in this beverage is as delicious as it is festive for the occasion.

Add simple syrup and a handful of fresh mint leaves to a silver mug or your preferred cup. Crush the mint leaves with the back of a wooden spoon to release the oils in the mint. Pour half the desired whiskey into the cup and top it with crushed ice. Stir the contents to mix the ingredients. Top the glass with the second half of the whiskey. And for a finishing touch and a little extra St. Paddy's Day cheer, decorate the glass with a sprig of fresh mint.

7. Irish Gold

St. Patrick's Day isn't complete without searching for some gold at the end of the rainbow. Even if luck isn't on your side and you can't catch the leprechaun and his pot of gold, you can make your own luck by whipping up an Irish Gold. This fruity and refreshing libation — a version of an Irish highball — is a great runner-up. Irish whiskey, peach schnapps, orange juice, and ginger ale go into this delicious pot o' gold.

First things first, round up a tall glass, some ice, and your beverage makings. If you can find them, fresh peach slices are a tasty addition. Fill your glass with ice and pour in two parts Irish whiskey, half part peach schnapps, and a splash of fresh orange juice. Top the glass with ginger ale — about four to five parts, or more or less to your taste — and finish it off with a lime slice or spring of mint for garnish. Cheers!

8. Irish Maid

The lovely Irish Maid is a riff on the Kentucky Maid, which is a fun variation on a classic whiskey sour. The foundation of the whiskey sour goes unchanged, as whiskey, citrus, and sugar remain the base ingredients for this twist on a beloved classic. Kentucky and Irish Maids make it more dynamic with a few additions to the glass. The cucumber adds an element of cool and refreshing sweetness and the elderflower liqueur adds a botanical dimension to the drink. The Kentucky Maid uses bourbon, while the Irish Maid features an Irish whiskey. Equal parts refreshing and intriguing, the ingredients in an Irish Maid allow the profile of Irish whiskey to shine, which, of course, should be the star of the show on St. Paddy's Day. 

First things first, add a couple of cucumber chunks into a glass and muddle it. Put the muddled cucumber in a shaker, along with two parts Jameson (or your Irish whiskey of choosing), half part elderflower liqueur (St. Germain is a solid choice), half part sugar syrup, and three-quarters part lemon juice. Add some ice and shake the concoction until it's well and mixed. Strain over ice and add a cucumber slice for garnish if you're feeling fancy. Bottoms up! This flirtatious Irish Maid will keep you coming back for more. 

9. Nutty Irishman

Toast to the exuberant Irish charm with the Nutty Irishman, a delicious drink that has several variations. The common element among each version is that it must be nutty and it must be creamy. These flavors come from the Irish cream and the hazelnut liqueur in the drink.

If you're looking for a quick and simple beverage that will get the job done, make the Nutty Irishman into a layered shot with equal parts hazelnut liqueur and Irish cream. First step: pour the Frangelico (or your preferred hazelnut liqueur) into a shot glass. Second step: float the Irish cream on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon. Third step: drink up and enjoy!

The Nutty Irishman can also be made into a creamy, coffee concoction that will warm you from the inside out. Stir equal parts Irish cream, Irish whiskey, and hazelnut liqueur into a mug of hot coffee. Top with a spoonful of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. This delicious drink is meant to be slowly sipped and is a perfect way to cap a chilly day celebrating St. Patrick and all things Irish.

10. Irish Eyes

Although the vivid green landscapes of Ireland might seem like the obvious reason for St. Patrick's Day's association with the color, the original roots of this connection go a bit deeper. Green as a symbol of St. Patrick's Day and all things Ireland first came about in 1798 during the Irish Rebellion. If you're looking to get festive with a vibrant green libation, make some Irish Eyes for your St. Paddy's Day festivities. This creamy, minty, whiskey-forward cocktail was named for its bright green hue and is a fun and easy choice for any St. Patrick's Day party.

First, make your selection of Irish whiskey. A high-quality brand makes a smooth libation. Try out Midleton Distillery's Redbreast 12 Year or a single malt from Bushmills. Add one part whiskey, a quarter part Baileys, a quarter part crème de menthe, and two parts fresh cream into a shaker. Fill the shaker about halfway with ice and shake it until the shaker feels cold. Strain the drink into a chilled glass and garnish with a cherry or fresh mint leaf on top. The vivid green hue will surely bring you good luck for the occasion!

11. Irish espresso martini

What is a cocktail that will simultaneously wake you up and give you the warm fuzzy buzz of alcohol? An espresso martini, of course. While the exact history of this vodka-infused coffee libation remains a bit of a mystery, it was likely first imagined in a London club in the 1980s. The caffeine in the espresso martini is the perfect trick to help you stay awake during boozy nights. The extra boost will come in handy to keep you energized for a full day of St. Paddy's Day fun. And, in case you're wondering, the espresso martini can be made Irish.

To make this wildly popular drink Irish, simply add Jameson, or another Irish whiskey, to the mix instead of vodka. Gather your ingredients, which include espresso, whiskey, Kahlua, and simple syrup. Add everything into a shaker with ice. Give it a good shake, strain it into a glass, and sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on top. This milky, rich concoction works even better if you use the Jameson Stout edition, which has been finished in craft beer-seasoned barrels. The chocolaty and marzipan notes of Jameson Stout enhance the dark, earthy notes of espresso to make for one dangerously enticing cocktail. 

12. Guinness based cocktails

A pint of dark Guinness beer topped with a layer of foam is a staple of Ireland. The beloved stout beer has a heritage that runs deep in the country. The Guinness factory first opened its doors in 1759, when master brewer Arthur Guinness bought a small plot of land in Dublin. And, of course, there's no shame in drinking Guinness in its purest form as you toast to St. Patrick. But, if you're looking for a spark of inspiration to upgrade your Guinness game, go for a Guinness black velvet.  

This two-ingredient drink is incredibly simple to make. Pour equal parts Guinness and champagne (or another sparkling wine of your choosing) into a champagne flute. There is also a myriad of other Guiness-based cocktails to explore like a dark and stormy with Ireland's favorite dark stout, rum, ginger beer, and blueberry syrup. Raise a glass to St. Patrick on March 17th, but whatever you're drinking make sure it's inspired by the Irish!