On my trip to Ireland last summer I learned to things about the Irish – they like to drink and they like to drink…a lot.
It doesn’t matter what day of the week (Sunday was actually the rowdiest in my experience), it doesn’t matter the calendar day (although March 17th and the last Monday in October have their fair share of history) and it certainly doesn’t matter the occasion (weddings, funerals, holidays – they’re all the same in essence).
What I took away from being over there was a newfound perspective on life (yada yada) and a humbling lesson that the Irish simply dominate Americans when it comes to drinking. Seriously though, the Temple Bar Pub makes an American fraternity house look like Mormon country circa 1840s, or at any time really.
After experiencing it firsthand, I’m convinced the inside of our stomachs are made up of some marshmallow, gooey substance that’s closer in proximity to this, than it is to this.
On the other hand, what their stomachs can endure is diabolical by comparison, never mind trying to comprehend what theirs is comprised of.
Reminiscing about the beer guzzling, the tobacco snorting and the Irish bonding makes me really, really want to get back there as soon as possible.
While my friend and I toasted away to Team USA bringing home the gold and America’s overall success at the 2012 Olympics, the Irish were drinking Fast Guinness’ as if the factory was going out of business (more on this later). Even more pathetic, we were in a crowded, tourist-filled area and, while the Brazilians, Greeks and, yes, even the Germans were looking sluggish and collapsing slowly drink after drink, the Irish kept going after it, refusing to leave the bar even after last call at 4 a.m. …on a Sunday.
So yea, they like to drink and in their honor I say let’s raise a glass, try our best to imitate their greatness and make this the best St. Patrick’s Day one for the ages and not the memories.
Without further ado, the 17 drinks that will have you feeling lucky on St. Patty’s Day:
1. Jameson (straight or with Ginger Ale)
Those who thought I was going Guinness here are sorely mistaken. It’s not a close race in my opinion, but then again I am biased; however, there is reasoning behind placing John Jameson’s triple-distilled whiskey over Alfred Guinness’ dry stout, and it is taste. I’ll admit a Dublin-brewed pint of Guinness, inside the factory, is the best beer I’ve ever had, but the taste isn’t as consistent half-way around the world. Jameson, on the other hand, never loses its delicious flavor no matter where you are. In addition, it’s great to drink straight up. People who can’t handle it without a chaser should avoid Ireland. You’ve been warned.
Side note: I am really impressed I wrote a 350 word introduction about the Irish drinking culture without once mentioning Jameson. It is by far my favorite drink in the world and will remain that way until my death. This column isn’t about me and my enduring love for Jameson and how I got certified at the factory though, so moving on…
In Ireland, they have a practice called taking a Guinness fast, or as I was introduced to it a “Fast Guinness,” which means finishing your Guinness in the least number of sips possible. Remember, they drink pints there, not 16 oz. pussy shit like we have here in the USA, so downing one in one gulp isn’t as easy as it seems, although they relish in doing so with ease. Doing this in straight repetition over the course of an hour will lead you to feeling more full than you’ve ever been in your entire life and it will also have you stumbling out of the bar in no time, reestablishing the stereotype that Americans can’t even play in the same ballpark as the Irish when it comes to drinking. To quote Jules Winfield, it’s not even the same fucking sport.
Another side note: I can’t believe I went that whole paragraph without referring to Guinness tasting like a milkshake, which, it does.
3. Porterhouse Brewing Company’s Oyster Stout
A close second on the totem pole, the Porterhouse Oyster Stout is an absolute bemoath of a beer. If you can’t handle beers that are above 6.0%, don’t even in try it. On the other hand though, if you like strong, rich, powerful beers. This guy is for you. He will leave you feeling warm inside and reluctant to ever go back to America and face a Busch light ever again.
In case you’re in Dublin, the Porterhouse Bar is an absolute treasure chest of beers. Go wild, friend, go wild.
4. Irish Blonde
Though one could misinterpret this as a feminine Irish drink (please, there’s no such thing), this shark of a drink will rip you from limb to limb before you can even get a hold of yourself. It’s pricy and a bit too pricey to order at any pub inhabited by the common man, but if you want to break open the piggy bank this Sunday during the festivities then look no further. The drink combines Michal Collins Irish Whiskey (underrated and someone missing on this list) with curacao and sherry.
5. Smithwick’s Irish Ale
This is the beer that took my Irish drinking virginity. Therefore, it will always hold a special place in my heart, but more importantly on my lips. I don’t regret opting for Smithwicks over Guinness to this day, because it’s delicious malty composition is unmatched and really sets it apart. Also, the beer has quite a history as Smithwick’s is Ireland’s oldest operating brewery, dating back to the fourteenth century. Yes, the Irish monks used to brew this stuff and it still is around today. Most beers (correction: 99% of other beers), can’t say that.
6. Irish Coffee
My Jameson bias affects this one’s ranking I must admit, although this hot item is enjoyable in the morning, afternoon or at night. I used it to start my engines a few times while abroad and have since tried reincarnating the flavor with several failed attempts of my own, but I digress. When made by the right bartender, this drink is impeccable. It’s great after a meal and it’s great before you go out. In all, it’s just great period, even if you don’t like coffee.
7. Irish Tea Party
If you’re feeling lucky like Clint Eastwood already, then this blend of liquors will push you over the edge and make you feel very confident, if not cocky. Of course, Jameson is its base; however, what makes this drink interesting is that the whiskey runs over chilled green tea and a splash of absinthe, yea, that absinthe. This makes our tea party in Boston Harbor shrivel by comparison. Not really though, that was awesome.
8. Harp Lager
It’s hard to keep Harp off this list as much as I want to break outside of the American-stereotypes-for-Irish-drinks box. Regardless, this is a beer that is really enjoyably when the weather is nice, which all Irish beers can’t say, and it goes down nice and smooth. Unlike Guinness Stout, I can tolerate drinking it in the States, because it actually holds up to its Irish counterpart. True story about Harp: it’s only been around since 1960, but it is has a history of winning awards all over the world - a testimony to its greatness.
9. Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
Another great beer (surprise!) brewed by Guinness; however, it was originated at the Smithwick’s factory. There’s a lot of history and tradition here, which is the norm for pretty much every beer on this list. Furthermore, the beer is older than some European countries and wasn’t distributed in America prior to the 21st century. As one drunken pub-goer was eager to tell me, “it’s too good for you folks.” Thanks buddy.
Best description I have for it is, it’s a combination between Guinness and Smithwicks. If your Irish and reading this and I just offended you, please forgive me.
10. Irish Car Bombs
Surprised to see this so low on the list? Well, don’t be. The Irish aren’t too fond of it and wouldn’t think twice of ordering. It only makes the list because it’s so well known in other parts of the world and popularity leads to conformity. It’s also a transformative concoction of beverages that usually lead to a hell of a night. You really can’t beat the combination of Guinness, Jameson and Irish cream, so I don’t fault all the party people on this one.
11. Emerald Isle
We’re going to zip through the back seven here for two reasons: one, I’m thirsty and two, I’m sure most of you have gotten up from your computers to start drinking with your fellow comrades. Those of you who stuck around to find out what drinks might make you extra lucky during this Irish festival, well, I can’t guarantee anything.
Anyways, Emerald Isle is the standard “green” drink of St. Patty’s and is simply a Martini with some crème de menthe. It will make you go wild and could be hazardous if you have too many, which obviously the Irish will never heed that warning.
12. Murphy’s Irish Red
Not my favor by any means, but nonetheless popular and historical, so it’s worth putting on the list. Originally brewed in 1856, this red ale is roasted with small amount of barley, which give it its red flare. Similar to the other beers on this list, it’s a lot more enjoyable in country, when its brewed down the road, then it is after crossing the Atlantic. In all seriousness, Murphy’s stout is more popular amongst the Irish and its stronger (I’m pretty sure), so how it tastes in America is sort of irrelevant.
13. Irish Eyes
Someone opened my eyes to this drink after I returned to the States and I deeply regret not knowing of it when I left for Dublin, especially because I am such a big fan of the Big Lebowski. This drink is essential a White Russian, but Irish. Take out the vodka and replace it with whiskey. Also add in a bit of crème de menthe. The later ingredient gives it a nice green color, so don’t be afraid to order this on St. Patty’s Day.
14. Green Beer
Please forgive me for placing this so lowly on the list. In all honesty, I forgot and looking up at the rest of the list, I don’t think cutting and pasting it is really the right reaction. I like green beer, but comparatively to some of the other stouts and lagers on this list it just doesn’t even come close. Yea, you might be the happy-go-lucky guy sipping on a Bud light dyed with green food coloring this year, but seriously – a non-Irish beer on St. Patty’s Day is like cutting off your balls and surrendering them. Go ahead and do it, but I won’t be.
I don’t think this is even on the Internet, or even well known by bartenders for that matter, but Chaos is a mixed beverage unlike any other and like most on this list, should probably only be consumed in Dublin. It’s Kilkenny’s Irish Cream Ale, part Irish cream and part vodka, all over a double shot of your favorite Irish whiskey. Mine being Jameson, this drink takes you right out of your alignment and places you in another mindset entirely.
Similar to Irish Eyes, this drink is a remake of another drink. Heard of a Gin and Tonic? This is its Irish half-brother. Irish whiskey and tonic water isn’t the most delicious combination, but it’s effective in getting you drunk quickly.
17. Irish Canadian
This one barely makes the list and at this point I am mailing it in for those of you have read through this whole thing (thanks, I guess). An Irish Canadian, which I sampled in America – not Ireland – doesn’t even have Irish whiskey; however it does contain a distinguishing Irish Mist liqueur that compliments the Canadian whiskey nicely. It’s not bad, but it is inherently from North of the Border, so I can’t praise its name too much. As I write this, I feel like a just snubbed a really famous Irish drink in favor of this. Is there an Irish hell? Perhaps there is, but at least there’ll be plenty of booze there.