There was a time in my life when wearing a rag tag outfit of green garments whilst guzzling cheap, shitty, green-dyed beer was the bee’s knees.
This time was approximately… college.
Nowadays though, that sounds pretty awful. I still like embracing the Irish joyousness of St. Patrick’s Day and tipping a tweed cap to my Celtic heritage, but I prefer to do it in a way that doesn’t leave me with a green mouth or a cheap beer hangover.
Who’s with me? If you’d also like to observe this Irish-American holiday with a wee bit more class than your average hot mess pub crawl, read on for a few ideas.
1. The Grasshopper
This classic is a little old school but so damn delicious. If you get weak in the knees for mint chocolate chip ice cream, this just may be your new favorite drink. It’s very sweet though, so you may want to combine your after-dinner drink with dessert when you go the way of the Grasshopper.
Combine in a cocktail shaker 3/4 oz creme de menthe, 3/4 oz white creme de cacao, 1/4 oz heavy creme and ice. Shake it up and pour into your glass. You can even toss the whole thing into a blender for an icy treat.
2. The Last Word
For its natural green color, this Prohibition era concoction relies on a magical elixir made by French monks since 1737. Thanks to the purported 130 plants, herbs and flowers that go into the making of green Chartreuse, it boasts a very strong and herbaceous flavor that’s best appreciated in small doses.
To make this lovely, potion just mix equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur (like Luxardo, for example) and fresh lime juice. Shake all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker, pour into your glass and enjoy. For a garnish, use a slice of lime or maraschino cherry.
3. Irish Coffee
You really can’t go wrong with Irish Coffee, no matter the time of year. Here in Chicago, it’s often still quite chilly come St. Patty’s Day, so if you’re in a similar clime, this could be the right choice to warm you from the inside.
Of course there are loads of variations on this old standby, but we like this simple, boozy version. Just pour 1.5 oz of Irish whiskey and 1.5 oz of Irish cream liqueur (like Bailey’s, for example) into a mug or glass of your choosing, add in a cup of hot coffee, top with a bit of whipped cream (or some sweetened, foamed milkl) and a dash of ground nutmeg before enjoying.
4. Verdant Virtue/Vice Cocktail
You’ve got to love a cocktail that’s chock full of fresh herbs. It somehow feels fresh and healthy, right? Well, that’s what old Grandpa Sean would have said anyway.
If you’re down with muddling, consider this other Chartreuse cocktail that contains several green ingredients, none of which are food coloring.
In a tall glass muddle 3 mint leaves, 3 basil leaves with a half ounce of simple syrup. Fill the glass with ice, then stir in an ounce of gin, 1/2 oz of green Chartreuse and the juice from one lime. Garnish with a couple of cucumber slices, lime slice and a sprig of rosemary.
5. Green Sangria
Finally, a St. Patrick’s Day drink for all you wine lovers!This green grape sangria is scrumptious, refreshing and again, healthy in that there’s some actual fruit in there.
In a blender, puree a pound of green grapes, 2 small chopped Granny Smith apples, a quarter cup packed mint leaves, 3/4 cup sugar (optional), ground-up vitamin C tablet (helps keep the color bright) and 2 cups dry white wine. Do this in 2 batches, then strain to separate solids.
Pour the puree into a pitcher and stir in about another bottle and a half of the white wine. Chill for at least 2 hours, and then serve over ice or frozen grapes.
6. The Subtle Shamrock
OK I promise, this is the only one that has Midori in it but I figured it’s forgivable because it’s just a smidge and is well-balanced by the other ingredients.
I’m a sucker for a prosecco or champagne cocktail and if you are too, opt for this subtly green drink. Start with a glass filled with ice. Then pour in 2.5 oz pear and apple juice, 1/3 oz Midori liquor and 1/3 oz simple syrup. Stir well, top with 2 oz prosecco. Garnish with orange peel and caramelized pear… or just suck it down sans garnish – we won’t judge you.
7. Green Teaser
Festive, simple and just the right combination of flavors, this green tea cocktail is perfect to serve up at a St. Patrick’s Day fete.
Start by just making some regular green tea with 4 tea bags and 2 cups boiling water. Allow the tea to steep for about 4 minutes before removing the tea bags. Then stir in a quarter cup of pomegranate juice and place in refrigerator to chill. Load up a glass with ice and a few thin slices of apples and pears. Next, pour 3 oz of the green tea mixture into the glass and top with 4 oz of champagne.
8. Matcha Martini
This is a slightly greener take on the classic martini. If you’ve never tasted matcha powder in anything, you may want to try before you commit. It’s a finely milled green tea powder that has many purported health benefits. The taste can be described as sweet, grassy and a little bitter.
To use in a classic martini, just combine in a shaker a teaspoon matcha powder, 1 oz gin or vodka, 1/4 oz dry vermouth and 1/4 oz Cointreau. Give it a good shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.
I hope that something on this list caught your fancy and convinced you that there are, indeed, St. Patrick’s Day drinks that are both mature and festive.
And please, if your local bar’s only plan is green-dyed beer, send them here so they can get a few, more interesting ideas for this year’s celebration of the land of Erin.