What To Drink On St. Patrick's Day

Leave the flat green beer to the leprechauns

Attention, party people: Your favorite holiday is just around the corner—and, no, we don't mean National Beer Day.

Irish or not, St. Patrick's Day gives all of us Americans a much-needed reason to stay out late, let loose and belt out all those Irish drinking songs we didn't even know we knew, all fueled by a constant stream of potent potables. This year, forgo those buckets of stale beer and treat yourself to one of these delicious—and sophisticated—festive options.

To get the scoop on all the best St. Patrick's Day booze, we hit up the talented crew behind New York's renowned cocktail joint, The Dead Rabbit, named Drinks International's World's Best Bar for two years running. Who better than the bar's resident beer expert, Long Thai, and co-owners, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, to recommend all the Irish-inspired drinks you need to stay lucky this year?

St. Patrick's Day Beers


This ever-crushable style's typically low alcohol content (between 4 and 5.5 percent ABV) is key for getting you through the parade without a single stumble, and Thai concurs. "In the interests of the EU, the second most popular style of beer in Ireland is an imported pilsner," he notes. "We have four beers on tap, the most popular being Pilsner Urquell. Dry, light and refreshing, it's the perfect session beer for someone looking to drink all day."

Additional suggestions from TT: Victory Brewing Prima Pils, Firestone Walker Pivo Pils, Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils, Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner

Photo: shalbs via Flickr 

Irish Dry Stout
"Incomparable in its Irishness, Guinness is the most iconic, patriotic liquid symbol of the clover," Thai says. "The pride of Ireland—there's nothing better to drink on March 17. They've studied the proper temperature and pressure to store and serve Guinness for the most pleasurable Irish dry stout." Hey, if it ain't broke . . .

Additional suggestions from TT: Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout, Boulevard Brewing Dry Stout, Lakefront Brewery Snake Chaser, North Coast Old No. 38 Stout

Dry Cider

"No beer list would be complete without a cider," Thai says. "It's not a beer, but if you're in it for the long haul, a dry, crisp apple cider like Blackthorn is going to see you through the night." Ciders, enormously popular in the UK, are also a great choice for folks who prefer something a little sweeter and lighter bodied than the classic grain-based brew.

Additional suggestions from TT: Farnum Hill Extra Dry, Nine Pin Signature, Vander Mill Dry, Seattle Cider Semi-Sweet

Top 4 Irish Whiskeys

Clontarf 1014
Looking for something to warm you up after braving the parade? We've got you. "This whiskey is made up of 90 percent grain and 10 percent malted barley, meaning it is light, floral and slightly sweet," Muldoon notes. "It's a good introduction to Irish whiskey, and its delicate flavor means it works incredibly well in an Irish coffee."

Photo: Tasting Table

Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt
"Made with 100 percent malted barley and aged in ex-bourbon barrels for a minimum of 12 years, this lovely, warming single malt has a nice, creamy texture," Muldoon explains. "On the palate, there are traces of honey, toasted malt and white chocolate. This whiskey manages to capture a great deal of character from the malted barley and the flavors are delicious." Well-balanced and approachable, Knappogue is the perfect introductory Irish single malt for American whiskey fans or those less familiar with the style.

Bushmills 16 Year Old Single Malt
"This 16-year-old single malt is aged in three different cask types: bourbon, port and sherry," Muldoon says. "The port wood finishing adds some delicious red and summer fruit flavors, with hints of Christmas spice. Like all Bushmills whiskeys, it's a very smooth whiskey, but this one has a sweeter, fruitier edge." This boozy option is both complex and easy drinking, making it an ideal way to wind down the night (or kick it off—your choice).

Photo: Yves Cosentino via Flickr

Green Spot
As Muldoon tells it, this top-selling whiskey is basically an Irish history lesson in a glass. "Green Spot was first produced by a Dublin wine merchant called Mitchell & Son back in the 1800s," he notes. "The company purchased single pot still whiskey from the Jameson Bow Street distillery and sold it as their own, a common practice back in those days. They marked the barrels with a spot of colored paint to indicate each's maturation period, and until the 1970s, Green Spot was aged for at least 10 years (now it's generally seven to nine years old). These days, the whiskey has been matured in a combination of new bourbon re-fill barrels, with around 10 percent of it aged in Oloroso sherry butts. It's very light and floral on the palate with notes of green apples and pears."

Fancy a cocktail instead?