This article first appeared on the now-defunct ZUG.com
I love St Patrick’s Day: it’s like Ireland bought the entire world a round just by existing. The clichés are a little annoying — imagine the world spent Independence day eating hamburgers until everyone threw up in public — but for some reason America sees the Irish as inoffensive comic relief that can be safely ignored.
The result is all of North America drinking in our honor, which would be awesome if they could handle it. Part of the problem is the poison people drink: green beer is the alcoholic equivalent of yellow-black striped lines, but jamming your face into it does more damage in the long run. You should only drink green thinks if you’re an aphid. Color-coding people is one of the most appalling things in history, and it’s not as if Ireland has a lock on the colour.
I’ve never spent St Patrick’s drinking green, because I’m actually Irish and not an idiot, but now I’m grabbing every green grog I can get my Gaelic grip on just to see what happens.
Don’t worry about the drinking dangers. I’m a professional.
1. Green from the Bottle
Before heading out I decided to see what greenery you could get in a bottle. Luckily the life of a freelance writer has left me uniquely equipped for this task:
I went through the shelves and grabbed everything green.
How Gaelic is this greenery? Liquid shamrock or-ange juice?
Sour Puss Apple
Sour Puss looks like watered-down kryptonite, and also tastes like diluted fictional poison. It’s intended as a cocktail component, but at 15% ABV you’d need to mix it with moonshine to make it worth your while and maybe, just maybe, reduce the awful taste. It’s like a dehydrated battery pissed into a bottle – slightly thick, burningly spiky, and worryingly unhealthy in both body and behaviour.
As Irish As: being stabbed by a one-armed Yakuza. Extremely sharp, missing something very important to its job, and definitely not Irish.
Even greener than Sour Puss, possibly greener than #00FF00, Melon Liqueur looks like it should be swishing around in a TV scientist’s vial – preferably after she starts to search for a cure, but before the rugged action hero staggers in with the Omega Serum (But He’s Already Been Infected!). Tropical sugary sweetness never intended intended to be drunk alone – much like anyone actually drinking it.
As Irish As:
For reference, here’s Ireland.
Liquid can’t get greener than this outside of a super-spinach serum designed to help Popeye beat Superman. Taste-wise it’s toothpaste. You couldn’t drink a lot unless you wanted to seduce your dentist by getting them drunk on the fumes. And want your sex life to involve those horrible scrapy hooky things.
As Irish As: toothpaste. In any evaluation or comparison straight crème de menthe is always and only toothpaste.
With that name and 55% ABV it’s as Irish as a Tiger tank – certainly not from our country, and certainly not messing around. Its French roots are fast revealed in its claims of medicinal benefits (the green comes from the chlorophyll of over 130 plants, adapted from the recipe from elixir of long life “Elixir Végétal de la Grande Chartreuse.”) If you have a 110-proof drink and still need new excuses to drink it, you’re certainly not Irish.
Like all “medicinal” drinks it tastes foul. It hits your face like it’s been designed to clear your nose and assumes you’ve already tried snorting paint. They make in a monastery, but it’s still half a hedge dissolved in acetone.
As Irish As: the product of a French monastery.
Redbreast pure pot still whiskey is one of the only pure pot still distilleries to survive Prohibition and two wars (losing it both the American and European markets). A pure pot still combines malted and unmalted grain, while single malt obviously only involves malted barley, leading to an astonishingly smooth drink. It benefits enormously from a drop of water, opening up the dynamics on the tongue, the warmth of whiskey in an almost creamy texture with overtones of turf (that’s “peat” to people who’ve never footed it from an Irish bog).
As Irish As: an authentic Irish whiskey, distilled with a uniquely Irish technique, in Ireland, and it’s disqualified from this competition for not being green. You may detect a subtle point about green drinks.
The Patrick’s party drink, mixing vodka and melon in big batches at 3:1 then topping each glass with red bull. I’m not a huge fan of energy drinks myself – on the grounds that only superheroes should be exposed to that much concentrated terrible-tasting toxin – but this one seems to work. A mass-produced combination of alcohol and energy drink: what could possibly go right? And who cares, because it’s be enormous fun!
As Irish As: A drunken bad idea. Incredibly Irish.
- 1 1/2 oz gin
- 1/2 oz dry vermouth
- 1/2 oz melon liqueur
- Splash of blue curaçao
- Dash of lemon
- Maraschino cherry (always optional)
- Shake everything but the blue, pour into chilled cocktail glass, add the blue.
A serious drinker’s drink, mixing gin and vermouth in with melon and curacao. The last time such serious powers battled under bright colos was Hastings. The ratios are really important, as too much vermouth in anything is what mixologiests professionally term as “crap.”
As Irish As: Buckingham Palace. It’s polished, it’s fussy, based on gin and subjugates foreign imports. It could only be more British if it was Earl Grey.
- 1 1/2 oz vodka
- 3/4 oz melon liquor
- 1 oz pineapple juice
- Shake everything with ice and pour
I swear I’m getting further away from Ireland with every cocktail. This one involves melons, pineapples, and a major Hawaiian naval base. This tropical taste puts a creamy head on a decent liquor weight. It’s a great way to slosh through any sub-standard vodka you’ve got lying around, as acid couldn’t eat through the sunny fruit feeling of the rest of the drink.
As Irish As: someone buying a round in an Irish pub. Not necessarily local, but it’s cheap, fun, and alcoholic, and therefore an honorary citizen.
That’s all I’ve got at home, and St Patrick’s day isn’t about sitting around the house. Luckily it’s only noon. Onwards, to the outside world!
3. Out In The Open
Einstein’s: Mexican Leprechaun
The Mexican Leprechaun doubles up on cliches, and this drink would be offensive if it wasn’t also awesomely effective. That’s a note, foreigners: you can get away with the leprechaun bullshit if you’re buying the drinks. Chill a shot glass, add crème de menthe, then carefully layer the tequila on top (pour down the inside of the glass, over the back of a spoon or using your thumb to block most of the bottle, hygiene/number of people watching permitting).
Knock it back and you’ll discover this isn’t just a drink – it’s a safe disposal strategy for chemical waste. You could connect your tongue to alternating current and still taste anything over cold crème de menthe. It’s an icy cold shutdown for your tastebuds, chilling your throat and eliminating the microsecond’s exposure to even the cheapest of tequilas. (Note: do not do this with good tequila).
As Irish As: Getting hammered and not remembering the bad bits. Irish as Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
Jack Astor’s: The Sour Apple Martini
When I asked for the greenest drink they had, friendly barman “Roy” whipped me up a Sour Apple martini. Sour Apple! I know villains are meant to follow you and strike when you least expect it, but they’re also meant to fall into toxic poisons, not be them.
At least it here it was cut with vodka, so it wasn’t as directly offensive, but that also means it isn’t really a martini. Gin means a martini. Vodka means someone trying to overcharge you for neutral spirits.
As Irish As: Nothing could be less Irish unless my entire country had sunk instead of Atlantis. And at least then the residents of Irelandlantis would have drunk a lot.
George’s Play: Leprechaun Lunch
Leprechaun’s Lunch might sound like someone trying to piss off an Irishman, but it’s a shooter converted for sipping by an ex-alcoholic bartender. That’s not just spiritually but cinematically Irish. An iced glass of Bailey’s and milk (Ireland is mostly cows and sheep, and both sides of my family come from farms), pouring crème de menthe down through the cubes creates an emerald ripple before spreading out in a pleasant green shade. It’s also extremely drinkable.
As Irish As: The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – great fun and strongly associated with the place, but never actually found in Ireland.
But I can avoid it no longer. And I’m incredibly lubricated. It’s time to face the Green Beer.
Make Your Own Green Beer
A quick thought experiment. Einstein used this kind of thing for special relativity and quantum mechanics, but trust me, this is just as important. If you were a bartender and knew that whichever swill you tainted with food dye would sell, would you use the good stuff? Or would you use the bottom-of-the-broken-barrel skunkedness you couldn’t sell any other way? The stuff where, even if people get sick, they’ll blame the fact they had seventeen pints instead of the pints themselves?
Another aid to understanding: here’s everything that makes green beer green.
It’s not much to base a day on. If you must make green drinks, do it yourself. That way you know what you’re drinking and aren’t paying a barman to call you stupid. Let’s test it with a few trials.
Yep, that’s turning green all right. It also looks like it may be reforming into a reason to call the Ghostbusters.
As Irish As: it’s the right color but contains none of the spirits, so it’s not very Irish, but pretty good at representing most of the St Patrick’s day “Irish”.
An absolute disaster of a drink on its own, as the green dye sits on top exactly like a mold and infection. It also keeps all the dye in one place where you can experience the taste it isn’t meant to have. Stirring removes these problems and leads you to the dull lands of “It’s green milk, what did you expect?”
As Irish As: Milk. Fair enough, we do have a lot of cows.
Irish coffee is another disaster we’ve been blamed for, even though whiskey to coffee in an effective way of ending drinks. Whiskey and coffee are both wonderful ideas, but are cups so expensive you can’t enjoy them both separately? And could green coffee be any worse?
You already know the answer.
The result was the exact shade of 80s toxic sludge.
If Steven Segal saw me with that he’d slowly karate me to death before I could pour it into the wildlife reserve. And after drinking some, I’d let him. While the faint chemical nastiness is almost covered by the coffee, the sheer psychological association of the color isn’t. It feels like drinking poisonous tar, and is possibly the only substance which would make me prefer another Sour Apple Martini.
As Irish As: A plastic leprechaun that’s been in a fire – a bad idea to begin with, and the horrible things it’s been through have only made it worse.
Take your favorite beer, beg its forgiveness, and add a drop of green dye. It will taste like your favorite beer, but very slightly worse. And now you’ve got that out of your system, enjoy the rest of the day with proper drinks.
More enjoyable anti-paddyry with