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March 17, 2011

Honoring St. Patrick's Day


You can have your green beer and your Irish pubs today, America.  Gulping cheap brew polluted with food coloring while accessorized with plastic four-leaf clovers has always felt like the perfect example of the way us U.S. citizens “celebrate another’s culture”: by getting shamelessly wasted before noon at a much-hyped Irish brunch in the nearest mall-theme restaurant to the tune of the latest U2 song (which, for the record, sounds about as Irish as Justin Bieber). Go head…swaddle yourself in various shades of green, head to toe, underwear to overcoat, and let the Irish car bombs splash all over you.  But know that this does not make you Irish. Really—it doesn’t even make you seem as if you even like the Irish.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m the worst kind of Irish-American. I have just enough of Irish blood to have some red hair in my beard.  My deep affection for all kinds of Irish whiskey qualifies me as a functioning alcoholic. And I’m one of those guys who screams along in an off-tune warble whenever The Pogues grace a jukebox (and yes, I also close my eyes and mouth the words during some of their slower numbers—but only to Macgowan-era tunes, thank you very much).  I love a well-poured pint, and I love my Irish pubs (D.C.’s Irish Times and Nanny O’Briens, in particular), and I’m the bastard that reminds you that Guinness tastes better in Ireland than anywhere else—because it does.

But on this holiday? I forego the cover charges, love of corn beef, and long lines at the area’s Irish bars. I find a place where a bartender knows how to pour a good pint of Guinness (a long-lost art in this country), and I get an inch of Blackbush (a whiskey I once ordered on the rocks while in Ireland, only to be refused—and the barkeep was right, it’s one that should be served neat).  And if I’m lucky, the music will be more traditionally Irish than The Corrs. In other words, I’ll embrace the Irish spirit (and spirits) in a decidedly more subdued manner.

To join me, consider one of the following:

A Virtual Tour of Ireland’s Western Isles

Tourism Ireland offers a nice cache of recipes for your own little St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, from party foods to video instructions on how to make the perfect Irish coffee.

And, for the non-Guinness drinker, two drink recipes crafted by the mixologists at the Salt at the Ritz-Carlton restaurant on Amelia Island, in honor of this most special of days…

2 oz  Jameson Irish Whiskey
2 oz  Sweet and Sour mix
2 oz  orange juice
Splash of green Crème de Menthe
Preparation: Combine Irish Whiskey, sweet and sour mix, and orange juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake and strain into martini glass. Sink Crème de Menthe to bottom of glass.

1 oz  Plymouth Gin
2 oz  Midori
1/2 lime muddled
7 mint leaves muddled
Preparation: Combine Plymouth Gin, Midori, muddled lime, and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a tall cocktail glass filled with ice and top with club soda.

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · European Travel · Food and Drink · Travel Rants


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