Unabashedly Green and Delicious, Oisin Davis challenges two cocktail bars to create proper Paddy's Day cocktails. 

Every Irish person around St. Patrick’s Day is always conflicted with feelings of immense pride and horrific shame. We feel proud when we watch the evening news bulletin and see reports of the world’s most-revered monuments being illuminated green for the day. It never ceases to amaze that such a tiny island can have such an incredible global reach. In addition to viewing the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Jainero and the Eiffel Tower in Paris lit up emerald green, hundreds of St. Patrick’s Day parades take place around the world celebrating our people, identity and culture. No other country in the world can lay claim to anything even remotely similar to that.

And then there’s the shame. As much as we all love the craic and the session, the sheer excess around St. Patrick’s Day would make even the most hardened Irish drinker somewhat mortified. I'm not sure who was responsible for allowing our national holiday to become an excuse to fill bars from 11am, but they certainly have a lot to answer for as it sure can get messy. But it's not just the madness, it's the tackiness that makes us all embarrassed. The "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" t-shirts, the shamrock bunting in bars, the 'Made in China' leprechaun hats, and the one that always annoys us the most, the bloody green drinks! Why do we need to turn perfectly decent libations the colour of moss? From McDonald's to downtown NYC Irish bars, green-coloured beverages are a seasonal scourge and the irony is, no one hates them more than the Irish. 

Having said all that, there's no reason why green drinks need to be gaudy and disgusting. I've had plenty of grassy looking cocktails that I'd happily imbibe again and again. So, I challenged a couple of really good cocktail bars to come up with a proper Paddy's Day cocktail. The only rules were:

The Spirits of 76, 3211 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201, USA

An old school neighbourhood bar with classic cocktails and comfort cuisine in Arlington Virginia, The Spirits of 76 has an interesting twist in its theme. It celebrates the rich history of the area, but because it's co-owned by Limerick native Patrick Doody, they are very big on their Guinness and Jameson.

Doody moved to the US 13 years ago and opened up the bar with business partner John Rodas in 2016. Seeking to create a relaxed yet fun-filled offering for St. Patrick's Day, which is a big affair there, "Being a proud Limerick man, I do enjoy St. Patricks Day. The goodwill and relationship that the American people have with our small little nation makes me very happy every March. I am extremely fortunate to live and work in Arlington, there is a great sense of community and we live minutes from one of the most exciting cities in the country [Washington]."

Such is the level of trade on St. Patrick's Day there, that they have to open up little satellite bars inside to cope with the demand, which also can present issues. "I was changing a keg of Guinness at one of the pop-up stations and made some kind of miscalculation. Ended up spraying the entire bar and restaurant in the black stuff. It was like I had struck oil. Luckily, everyone saw the funny side, but I'm still living that one down!" 

One of their bartenders Alexis whipped up something that he says is a twist on the Green Tea shot and amplifies the stone fruits and spice that are so abundant in Jameson Black Barrel. If you're in the DC/Arlington area, swing by and see for yourself!

Cocktail: "Jameson Greentini"

Created by: Alexis Nieves

25 ml Jameson Black Barrel 
25 ml Creme de Peches 
5 ml house made apple liqueur 
10 ml lime juice 
10 ml lemon juice 
5 ml sugar syrup 
2 dashes of of lemon bitters 
  1. Chill a martini or coupé glass with some ice.
  2. Place all ingredients in a shaker, fill with ice and seal.
  3. Shake hard for 10 seconds.
  4. Remove ice from glass, strain and garnish with a strawberry on the rim of the glass.

r.i.o.t., 4 Aston Quay, Dublin 2 

On the somewhat louder end of the spectrum, we have r.i.o.t., an acronym of Revolution In Our Time. A Dublin city dive bar whose owners have a combined 49 years between them, it opened in December 2017. Conor McCrohan or "Reds" to all who know him is one such owner who I dare say has contributed more than his fair share to those collective 49 years.

"Inspired by the cities, Brooklyn and Berlin, r.i.o.t. was designed and built by bartenders, ex-industry professionals and one mad street artist (Sums). We wanted to create a space where no matter what your style is or where you are from, you can leave your bullshit at the door and relax."

It may only be just over a year old but riot is well established for its stellar cocktails led by bar manager Anne Gilhooley and by their legendary club nights handled by some of the capital's finest DJs. However, when it comes to Lá Fhéile Pádraig (St. Patrick's Day), Conor reckons standard rules don't apply. "We've learned that all the hours spent making playlists and the money spent getting live music in, didn't make a difference on Paddy's Day because we could have played the same three songs on repeat and no one would have noticed. Drop Kick Murphy's Shipping off to Boston, Cranberries' Zombie and U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday

Well, regardless of what's going down with the tunes on the day, you can always rely on Anne to rock out the wicked drinks. "I wanted to make something light, fruity and above all, fun. We're moving away from wintry, stirred whiskey cocktails, this is your introduction to summer. And it's green. Everyone likes green." 

Cocktail: "Green Machine"

Created by: Anne Gilhooley 
25ml Jameson
30ml Midori
15ml Ginger Syrup
25ml Lemon
2 dashes Tiki Bitters
  1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice.
  2. Seal it and shake hard for 10 seconds.
  3. Pour into a Capri glass, filled with ice crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with a mango foam top, orange zest and a mint sprig. 

Author: Oisin Davis 

Oisin works on a global level as an Irish drinks evangelist and producer. He is the founder of nationwide drinks festivals that celebrate Irish spirits in the best bars and restaurant in the 32 counties and to top it off he is co-owner of Poacher's Premium Beverages, Ireland's only all-natural mixer company. F&W is delighted that Oisin has joined our contributing team with his column "Great Irish Drinks."