Ultimate Guide to proper food and drinks during St. Patrick’s Day

With everyone’s favorite green themed holiday right around the corner, it’s time to review the proper food and drinks in which you must indulge on this most festive intro to spring.  Certain beers and Irish Whiskeys will be on sale at your local supermarket, so use this guide to plan accordingly, shop smart, and take confidence that you have the power to be a better bartender this year than that dude who kept skipping over you last year.

Your shopping list:

  • Guinness. LOTS and LOTS of delicious, smooth, rich & creamy Guinness.  Not only will you use it for cooking, but there are a myriad of ways to enjoy the quintessential Irish Stout.  And it’s usually on sale prior to St. Paddy’s day. (Jewel in Chicago has 8 pack pint cans for $11.99)
  • Two Gingers.  Usually about this time college kids and the odd high school student will start jumping up and down on the Jameson bandwagon causing you to spill your drink and get irate. This is where you’re maturity sets you apart from the novices.  Two Gingers is a smooth and refined Irish Whiskey imported from Ireland.  It’s not as sweet as Jameson and usually a dollar or two cheaper, but this does not mean that it is of a lessor quality.  I find it to be much better. And it’s a great whiskey to use in an Irish coffee. (Bushmill’s if you have some extra spending cash is also on the preferred list.)
  • Harp Lager.  You need this to pair with your Guinness for a proper Black and Tan.  And to drink in case your guests drink you out of Guinness.  But they shouldn’t because you paid attention to the first point on the list and got A LOT.
  • Baileys Irish Cream. Or something similar.  Just for a good Irish coffee and the different brands taste pretty much the same.  Just stick with the original flavor.  Going into the weeds might leave you wishing you didn’t.
  • Ginger ale or ginger beer.  LIMES.
  • Corned beef. The leaner the better.
  • Cabbage. One head should be plenty, but cutting it is going to be a bitch. Find a good YouTube video that shows you how and watch that first.
  • Red potatoes. Carrots. Onions. 1,000 island. Rye bread.
  • Anything else that good recipe you found on google calls for.  Every year we do one corned beef in the crock pot and one in the oven.  We add about a can or two of Guinness to each and it turns out awesome.  I’ll be eating corned beef sandwiches for a week and it’s the greatest thing ever.  I love it and I never look back.  I’m getting hungry now just thinking about it.

The big thing is to start the food prep early. I’d even go so far as to suggest peeling the carrots and cutting up the red potatoes the night before and putting them in the fridge.  It takes work and time (oh no!!), but the pay off is absolutely worth it and the way your house smells is awesome. It adds a something extra to the holiday that you really can’t buy or recreate in any other way.  And never, ever drink on an empty stomach.

Feel free to completely lose it once you see real bag pipes.

Feel free to completely lose it once you see real bag pipes.

The Celebration

Get the food ready and throw it into the oven and/or slow cooker.

Then have breakfast.  Corned beef hash is usually a good way to go.  Of course you need an Irish coffee to go with it.  It’s going to be a big day, but not without your coffee.

Once you get home (I didn’t expect you to spend the entire day in the kitchen. If your brunch place doesn’t serve drinks, bring your own, just don’t mix the Baileys and Two Gingers in the same container.  And don’t be an idiot about it. It’s far to early in the day to be ejected from an establishment.) mix yourself a Black and Tan. Put on your favorite Irish movie (my list below).  Or put on some good Irish music (Dropkick Murphy’s, Three Irish Tenors, Riverdance whatever floats your boat; there’s plenty to pick from.) Put up the decorations and maybe do an Irish car bomb before everyone arrives.  That’s the extra kick in the pants to get the party started.

After that? Well, I’m from Chicago where St. Patrick’s day is held in more reverence than Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl combined (doesn’t help that Da Bears are rarely, if ever, involved in either one). We have big parades, dye the river green, and general insanity erupts from every tavern and bar in a 30 mile radius.  So, go out, have fun, be safe, dress in green, throw beads, and hope that the weather cooperates.  If you’re at home, use this link to one up that bartender from last year and make some amazing cocktails.  If you stick with the shopping list above you can make a good assortment of drinks.  One of my favorite non-beer drinks is Two Gingers, ginger beer, and lime over ice in a copper mug.

The recipe is a closely guarded secret.  But not the recipe for good times.  You're reading it now!

The recipe for the dye is a closely guarded secret. But not the recipe for good times. You’re reading it now!

Keep in mind, on this celebration of the end of winter, that St. Patrick’s day isn’t about getting obliterated and spewing green.  It’s about getting together with friends and celebrating the many great gifts the Irish immigrants imparted on American culture, and their legacy of hard work and family values.  So drink responsibly, enjoy some great food, and be a good friend to all of those you choose to celebrate this day with and the luck of the Irish will shine upon you. Sláinte! (Pronounced – se-laan-che. Today’s the day to say it!)

Pictured: Not you.

Pictured: Not you. Do not run afoul of the cops on this of all days.  They hand out choke slams like bars hand out drinks and “I can’t breathe” takes on a whole new meaning. 


Rob’s Irish Movie Short List:

The Departed, Boondock Saints, Waking Ned Devine, Grabbers, Gangs of New York, The Quiet Man.

Rob’s Irish Music Short List:

Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly (fav album: Behind the Green Door), The Three Irish Tenors,  Thin Lizzy, The Tossers (they’re from Chicago!), The Dubliners.


The delightful pleasures of cold, rainy days.

Sometimes (ok, maybe often) I write about things that are wrong in the world that I want to see changed to make it a better place. However, there are some awesome things that are so right with the world that are worth appreciating. With the terrible weather we’ve been experiencing lately it can be difficult to stay positive which is why a reminder to stay positive and thankful is long overdue. As I right this, the five day forecast includes highs around 50 F and rain, rain, rain. There isn’t a nice day in sight as far as I can tell. And last week was all doom and gloom and rain, also.

Now showing the true measure of a man.

Now showing the true measure of a man.

This brings me to whiskey and cigars.  When the sky is that dreary gray color and the clouds and rain haven’t let up in days, there is nothing better than enjoying the complexity of flavors in a delicious scotch or well made bourbon. Enjoy it however you like (neat, rocks, a splash of soda), but enjoy it. Cigars offer a nice compliment to the whiskey.  If you can stand outside and hear the patter of the rain (while staying dry, of course) it can be quite pleasing to slowly enjoy a cigar and some good whiskey. Savor the flavors and think back to a simpler time or to the last time the weather wasn’t so soul crushingly bleak.

On these particular cloudy, rainy, and cold spring days I also really enjoy forcing myself to become immersed in a work of fiction (as opposed to watching TV). It pairs well with the aforementioned whiskey, and also a good meal or a quiet spot in the local public house, if you feel the need to move out of your home to a different four walled spot with a bit more activity.

I live in the quiet little Chicago neighborhood of Buena Park. Here we are fortunate enough to have a library directly across the street from my favorite bar (that boasts over 130 different whiskeys on hand…). After a long rainy day there’s nothing better than picking out a good book at the library and walking over to the bar to enjoy a delicious burger ($4 on Monday’s), sitting on the couch or big comfy chair in the corner, and sipping on a well crafted piece of art while being immersed in a fictional world. It’s one of my favorite ways to escape reality and enjoy it at the same time. Sure I’d rather be out riding my bike in good weather or spending the day at the beach or doing something active outside, but its these rainy days of spring that we have to endure before the fun in the sun can happen. And for me there’s no better way to enjoy that than with a few real world pleasures and some creature comforts.

buena whiskey bobcomfycorner

On the walk home at night there’s one special scene that these rainy days treat us to and that’s the picturesque environment created by the water reflecting the orange/gold glow of the street lights. A row of street lights casts out a particular hue that is reflected and refracted by the rain and puddles that change the very appearance of whichever street you happen to be walking down. It takes on a lively, almost an otherworldly appearance that reminds me of something out of a movie. Maybe the streets of Victoria era London or something of that nature. It’s just kind of cool to look around for a minute and see the world a little bit differently. Even if it is uncomfortable outside.

Not shown: Jack the Ripper and things that go bump in the night.

Not shown: Jack the Ripper and things that go bump in the night.

I’m interested in how you enjoy the cold, rainy spring days that precede freedom of the delightful summertime. Leave your ideas in the comments. We read every one.