St. Paddy’s Cocktails: A Dubliner Guide
Noella Schink is an American bartender sharing her knowledge of all things Irish, including how to make her favorite Jameson-infused creations, and where to get them when you visit Dublin.
Maybe he drove the snakes from Ireland, maybe he was a whiskey-slugging missionary — the legends all say something different about St. Patrick. Either way, the ritual remains around the world that on his day, you deck yourself out in green shamrocks, claim to be Irish even if you aren’t and drink your fill — and who’s to argue with 1,000 years of tradition? It’s the most widely celebrated saint’s day on earth! Whether you make it to Dublin this year or you’ll just be enjoying the revelry stateside, here are a few ways to enjoy the generously flowing Irish whiskey and beer alongside the Irish nationals. Slainte!
Since Jameson served neat isn’t for everyone (though it’s legit as it gets, if you’re looking to impress the Irish), the following libations cover some sweet, some sour, some spicy and some dead obvious options for your St. Paddy’s day toast. Remember, if the bar is serving green beer, run away immediately and don’t look back — you won’t find any Irish partaking in such silly gimmicks!
Light and Bitter
Though this is widely thought to be an Irish tradition, the “Black and Tan” moniker usually used for this drink is actually offensive in some circles, due to political and military associations much too cheerless to explain here. Guinness is gently layered atop a light ale or lager (usually Smithwick’s or Bass Ale) in this pretty pint. If you wish to avoid awkward misinterpretations and potential political brawls altogether, man up and just order a full Guinness. Or ask for a “Half and Half,” and the bartender will be impressed with your stout savvy: the ideal 44-degree Guinness is achieved by mixing 1/2 room temperature and 1/2 refrigerated beer. Get your Light and Bitter at McDaid’s at 3 Harry Street.
For a less manly version, you can simply add a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream to a strong cup-o-joe, but if you really want to show your Irish spirit, mix in a shot of Jameson as well. Don’t forget a dollop of whipped cream and a festive drizzle of green crème de menthe on top, or leave out the final flourish so the regulars don’t look at you like an over-zealous tourist. Perfect alongside your pre-party breakfast spread or as a nightcap, opt for this fortifying beverage at O’Neill’s at 2 Suffolk Street.
Jameson and Ginger
A shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey topped with ginger ale (I much prefer ginger beer myself, for a spicy twist), is crisp and refreshing. Add bitters and a lime like you would salt and pepper to your entrée and you’ll be tossing them back all day. If you want to keep up with the Irishman next to you at the bar, order a double; the whiskey’s so smooth it won’t sting, I promise. Start at The Hole in the Wall, Blackhorse Ave.
This one is mostly for the young folk who aim to get blackout-drunk by noon, but it tastes great and certainly has its place as a celebratory “cheers!” drink. It combines everything Irish in one chug: half a pint of Guinness and a shot glass filled half with Bailey’s and half Jameson, plopped in. You have to drink this one in one gulp; if you don’t guzzle, the Bailey’s will curdle and you’ll be left with a chunky tragic waste in your glass. Called an “Irish Car Bomb” in the US, asking for it by this name in Ireland may get you strange looks, as the name alludes to Northern Ireland’s troubles and is quite politically incorrect. Hit The Auld Dubliner at 24-25 Temple Bar to start the day off right!
For the those who wish to maintain an air of sophistication on St. Paddy’s (I’m talking to all six of you around the world), a warming Manhattan is the cocktail for you. A measure of the whiskey, a splash of sweet vermouth, dash of bitters and a cherry make this a classy classic, especially when served straight up in a martini glass. This is also known as a “Paddy’s Cocktail,” but most Irish and American bartenders will roll their eyes at that; you’re better off just asking for a Jameson Manhattan. Find your cocktail at the grown-up Central Hotel Library Bar on Exchequer Street.
This refreshing twist on a whiskey sour also must be made with Jameson, or else it’s a crime to Ireland. Mixed with equal parts fresh lemon juice and simple syrup, a splash of soda water tops off this simple and popular favorite. The locals will admire your laid-back style! Perfect if the day is balmy, toss back your John Collins at Solas, 31 Wexford Street, where the rooftop patio is sunny and there’s a view of St. Stephen’s Green.
Irish Jack Rose
A chic way to express your love for Saint P, this tart “tini” is balanced enough to please even the most discerning palate, though I’m not sure what place “palates” have on this day of revelry. Mix one measure of Jameson with a half ounce Calvados, half ounce fresh lime juice and half ounce grenadine (homemade pomegranate syrup is even better). Shake with ice and strain into the most pretentious martini glass available, or have the bartender whip you up one at John Mulligan’s on O’Connell Street. James Joyce used to frequent the pub, so you know it’s classy.
If it’s made with Irish whiskey, there’s no issue, though the bartender will pale at the amount of effort that goes into making it properly. A good barkeep will muddle together a lump of sugar, an orange rind and a few dashes of bitters, then stir the whiskey in over ice. A splash of water balances this old-school cocktail. Be sure to match this sipper with some tweed, tartan or Aran wool to fit in with the oldtimers in Ireland’s touted oldest pub, The Brazen Head, a Lower Bridge Street establishment that made its roots in 1198.
If you are truly Irish, do the right thing and have a real Guinness. But if you just can’t stomach the black stuff, this wee replica will at least get you a few smiles at the bar, especially in America. In a shot glass, pour a dark coffee liqueur (Tia Maria or Kahlua), then top with a small dash of Bailey’s Irish Cream. See? Looks just like Guinness’s Mini-Me. This shot is so cute you’ll have the real Guinness drinkers converted (and tipsy) in no time. Sweet and far too easy to shoot, remember not to get carried away. Try one at O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row, just off St. Stephen’s Green.
Noella Schink is a classically trained bartender from Portland, Maine. She had an enlightening, albeit gruff mentor, John Myers, who has been gracing the Northeast United States with his unparalleled mixological savvy for over 20 years. Noella now writes about the food and drink she fancies from her travels to Canada, the Caribbean, New Zealand and the UK. When you arrive in Dublin for the St. Paddy’s day festivities, she recommends Auto Europe for your car rental in Ireland. If you are enjoying Ireland’s national day here in the States, grab the nearest redheaded Irishman and have fun!