There’s American popular and then there’s Irish Popular St Patrick’s Day cocktails – drinks to celebrate Saint Paddy you’ll find more often than naught in Ireland versus the States.
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Crafting St Patrick’s Day Cocktails
When crafting a fine Irish whiskey cocktail, several factors come into play, from the quality of the whiskey to the balance of flavors and complementary ingredients. The foundation of any good cocktail is, of course, the whiskey. Opt for a high-quality Irish whiskey with a smooth, complex flavor profile that boasts notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak.
To create a well-balanced cocktail, it’s crucial to select complementary ingredients that enhance the whiskey’s unique characteristics. Some classic options include ginger beer, lemon juice, honey, and bitters. Achieving the right balance of sweet, sour, and bitter flavors is key to creating a top-notch Irish whiskey cocktail.
The sweetness can come from ingredients such as honey or simple syrup, while the sourness is often achieved with the addition of lemon or lime juice. Bitters add depth and complexity to the drink, helping to balance the sweetness and sourness.
Temperature is another crucial factor when serving an Irish whiskey cocktail. Some cocktails are best served chilled over ice, while others are meant to be savored at room temperature. It’s essential to experiment and determine the ideal serving method for each cocktail.
A beautiful garnish can add a pop of color, a layer of flavor, and visual appeal to any Irish whiskey cocktail. Consider a citrus twist, a sprig of fresh herbs, or a slice of apple or pear to add an extra touch of elegance and interest.
The Irish Coffee, Whiskey Sour, and Old Fashioned are classic cocktails that can be made with Irish whiskey, but don’t be afraid to get creative and try out new cocktail recipes that can showcase the unique characteristics of Irish whiskey.
In browsing menus of some of the finer establishments in Ireland, I found common winter ingredients to include passion fruit (See: Pornstar Martini) and apricot. Other common themes included tiki ingredients such as Falernum and other tropical fruits, often dehydrated pinwheels, from plantains to limes.
I was also delighted to note the use of Oloroso. Oloroso barrels are often used in the aging process of fine Irish whiskey, so to use the actual drink in a cocktail felt like a great way to pay homage to the craft of the liquor.
Popular Irish Drinks
Drinking the most popular drinks for St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland and Northern Ireland versus the United States will bring you two completely different experiences. Here are some of the drinks you might find in each country.
Celebrating in Ireland and Northern Ireland
St. Patrick’s Day, a lively and spirited celebration of Irish culture, is marked by an array of traditional and popular beverages enjoyed throughout Ireland. While many revelers around the globe might indulge in dyed-green beer, the Irish themselves prefer to honor their heritage with more authentic libations. These are some of the favored drinks that grace the Emerald Isle during this festive occasion:
Guinness: No list of Irish drinks would be complete without mentioning Guinness, the iconic Irish dry stout with its distinctive creamy head. This beloved brew, originating from the St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, is a staple in pubs across Ireland and around the world. With its rich, roasted flavor and smooth texture, Guinness is a quintessential choice for St. Patrick’s Day.
Irish whiskey: Ireland is renowned for its fine whiskeys, which are typically triple distilled, giving them a smooth and approachable character. Popular choices for St. Patrick’s Day include Jameson, Bushmills, Tullamore D.E.W., and Redbreast. Whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a classic Irish Coffee, a glass of Irish whiskey is an excellent way to toast the occasion.
Irish Cream Liqueur: Combining the best of both worlds, Irish cream liqueur blends Irish whiskey with cream, sugar, and often chocolate or coffee flavors. Brands like Baileys and Kerrygold are popular choices, perfect for sipping over ice or mixing into a decadent dessert cocktail.
Smithwick’s: For those who prefer a lighter alternative to stout, Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale is an ideal option. With its deep amber hue, malty sweetness, and a touch of hop bitterness, Smithwick’s is a well-balanced and refreshing choice for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Cider: Ireland has a rich cider-making tradition, and brands like Bulmers (known as Magners outside Ireland) offer a crisp, fruity alternative to beer. Made from Irish-grown apples, this effervescent beverage is a refreshing choice for those who prefer something a little different.
Irish Coffee: This classic concoction combines hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and a dollop of whipped cream, making for a delightful and warming beverage. Irish Coffee is a perfect way to end a St. Patrick’s Day meal or to sip while enjoying the festivities.
These popular drinks capture the essence of Ireland’s vibrant and storied drink culture, providing both locals and visitors alike with a taste of the Emerald Isle during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Sláinte!
Celebrating in the United States
A beloved annual event in the United States, St. Patrick’s Day has inspired various beverages, both traditional and creative, that people in the U.S. enjoy during this time. Here are some popular drinks that have gained traction in the United States for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations:
Green Beer: Though not authentically Irish, green beer has become a widely recognized symbol of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States. This playful twist on a classic lager or ale is achieved by adding a few drops of green food coloring to the brew, creating a vibrant, emerald-hued beverage that is enjoyed in bars and parties across the country.
Irish Car Bomb: This controversially named cocktail combines Irish stout, Irish whiskey, and Irish cream liqueur. A shot glass filled with equal parts whiskey and Irish cream is dropped into a pint glass containing the stout. The drink is then quickly consumed before the cream curdles, resulting in a rich and creamy explosion of flavors.
Shamrock Shake: The Shamrock Shake is a sweet, non-alcoholic treat popularized by the fast-food chain McDonald’s. This seasonal, mint-flavored milkshake, tinted green to match the holiday’s theme, is a widely enjoyed indulgence during the St. Patrick’s Day season.
Black and Tan: This layered beer cocktail is made by carefully pouring a pale ale or lager over a dark stout, such as Guinness. When poured correctly, the two beers create a visually striking separation, with the lighter beer on the bottom and the darker stout on top.
Leprechaun Cocktail: This bright, green-hued cocktail is made with vodka, lemon-lime soda, and blue curaçao, which gives the drink its signature color. Garnished with a maraschino cherry, the Leprechaun Cocktail is a festive, spirited choice for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Jameson and Ginger: A simple, refreshing combination of Irish whiskey, such as Jameson, and ginger ale, this drink is a popular choice for those looking to imbibe with a nod to Irish tradition. The zesty ginger ale complements the smooth and mellow character of the whiskey, making it an easy-drinking option for the festivities.
While some of these drinks, like green beer and the Shamrock Shake, may not have originated in Ireland, they have become beloved symbols of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States. Whether you’re toasting with a pint of emerald brew or sipping on a vibrant cocktail, these popular beverages are sure to add a touch of festive cheer to any St. Patrick’s Day gathering.
Whether you’ve just begun exploring Irish whiskey or are a frequent explorer, you might find my other article Introduction to Irish Whiskey a worthwhile read.
Popular Irish Cocktails
Get inspired by what some of the best craft cocktail bars across Ireland and making.
- 1785 – The Gibney. Redbreast 12, rum, pineapple, black cardamom, aromatized wine, oloroso — BARREL AGED. Make The Gibney Cocktail.
- 1791 – Bottled in Bond. Powers Three Swallows, bourbon, apricot, mastic, bitters — BARREL AGED Make the Bottled in Bond Cocktail.
- 1940 – Irish Coffee. Bushmills Black Bush, coffee, Demerara, cream, nutmeg
J. T. Pim’s
- TEN BELLS. Jameson Black Barrel, Crème de Casis (hazelnut), lemon juice and tonic water (N) Hazelnut Make the Ten Bells Cocktail.
- JACK IN THE BOX. Natterjack Irish whiskey, Benedictine, triple sec, falernum syrup and bitters (N) Almond
Vintage Cocktail Club
- The Cobblestone. Irish Whiskey, Apricot Brandy, Green Chartreuse, VCC Sweet Vermouth, Bitters, with lemon oils and an apricot mist. Couple glass with an ice sphere.
- BARREL & DRUM. Jameson Black barrel, Kahula, sugar, lemon, whites, chocolate bitters, guinness.
- MAMAS JAM. Jameson blackbarrel, raspberry,lime, apple.
- PERRYS DREAM. Roe and Co Irish Whiskey, pear juice, lime, frangelico, Orgeat, pear juice, Cacao white, black walnut
- IRISH MAID. Jameson, St. Germain, Lemon,Sugar, Fresh Cucumber, Cucumber bitters.
Jerry Flannery’s Bar
- Peaky Blinder. Jameson Black Barrel, Crème de Myrtle, Citrus, Honey, Ginger syrup and Whites.
- Bitter Tale. Roe & Co Whiskey, Punt e Mes, Grapefruit, Cinnamon, Charred Chicory.
The Merchant Hotel
- Tipperary. 12/25 REDBREAST LUSTAU WHISKEY 6/25 LUSTAU VERMUT 4/25 GREEN CHARTREUSE 3/25 CANE SYRUP ORANGE BITTERS.
- Irish Coffee. JAMESON CASKMATES IRISH WHISKEY / COFFEE / DEMERARA / CREAM / NUTMEG
Rúibín Bar & Restaurant
- Against The Grain. Teelings Single Grain, Sheep Yogurt, House Sumac Syrup, ZA’Atar Tincture, Rose Water, Lemon, Orange.
- Autumn Bru. Connemara Peated Whiskey, Blackberry, Elderberry Shrub, Apple, Brown Sugar. Served Warm.
Seven Bar and Restaurant
- Roeco Loco. Roe & Co Whiskey, Passion fruit Liqueur, Lime Juice, and Cranberry Juice.
Irish Cocktail Menus
These are some of the menus I’ve found along the way which have been really fun to look at and inspirational beyond St Patrick’s Day cocktail research.
The Merchant Hotel
Vintage Cocktail Club
From recipes using locally sourced ingredients and terroir-centric cooking, craft cocktails, to the latest in tech and home DIY projects, Michael yearns to share his learned and found knowledge of the world.