Most of us have at least a passing knowledge of Saint Patrick – the patron saint of Ireland who, legend has it, was responsible for ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes. Perhaps, too, you have heard the story of how the saint used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to potential Christian converts.
There is little doubt that Patrick was a real person who lived and conducted his ministry in the second half of the 5th century. The snake legend and the clover story may be embellishments added to an already remarkable life story. Patrick was born in Britain when that country was a part of the Roman Empire. Kidnapped by Irish raiders as a teenager he was carted off to a life of slavery in Ireland. Some years later, as a young man, he escaped his captors and returned to his family. But, as the saint wrote in his biographical Confessio, he felt a calling to return to Ireland and begin a Christian ministry.
Why the saint is now celebrated with green beer and raucous parades is a mystery. In fact, much of the revelry we in the United States associate with March 17 (the day of the saint’s death) is anathema to the Irish, who more somberly observe the date by going to church. Boston held the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737, and New York joined in with a bigger spectacle in 1766. Dublin didn’t get around to holding a parade until 1906 – and reports from the time compared it to a wake rather than a Mardi Gras-like affair. Of course, just an hour or so north of the Golden Isles one can experience revelry with no equal on the historic streets of Savannah.
If you are determined to party, and why not, you can just dye a keg of beer green and call it a day. But for the more adventurous here are some suggestions:
2 oz. Midori melon liqueur
½ oz. Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey
½ oz. Carolans Irish Cream liqueur
Place all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into two shot glasses.
(You can easily double the recipe to produce 4 nice shots – and you will probably want to, as these little delights go down very easily.)
It was a happy coincidence that I ran across this recipe just days after reading an article that offered suggestions on what to do with that aging bottle of Midori lurking in the far recesses of your liquor cabinet. Midori, a melon-flavored liqueur from Japan, has a gorgeous green hue (in fact “midori” is the Japanese word for green) that makes it perfect for Irish-themed drinks. The combination of the whiskey and the creaminess of the cream liqueur make this one a hit both in color and taste. If you don’t have a bottle of Midori don’t hesitate to purchase one. It will make any number of nice warm-weather drinks if it survives your St. Paddy’s gathering (think rum and Malibu, for instance.)
Admittedly, the Shamrock is pretty minimally Irish. You might want something a bit more authentic. In addition to Tullamore Dew (a fine whiskey) the Irish turn out a number of other widely available spirits. Some good friends are partial to Jameson – especially if combined with Bailey’s Irish Cream. They claim a 1:1 mix, but I’ve seen them pour, and I believe the whiskey might predominate. I recently gifted them a bottle of a new Jameson offering – one of the Caskmates series I was eager to try – that gives the whiskey an additional aging in IPA beer barrels. YUMMY! Jameson also introduced a Cold Brew version that, yes, is infused with cold brewed coffee. I am awaiting a reciprocal gift of this version from the aforementioned friends …
If you and your fellow Irish wannabes are fans of the appletini, you will want to mix up this version that swaps out the vodka for Irish whiskey. I used Bushmill’s since that’s what I had.
GREEN DUBLIN APPLE COCKTAIL
2 oz. Irish whiskey
1 oz. sour apple schnapps
2 oz. white cranberry juice
Place ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a Waterford tumbler. Garnish with a thin green apple slice.
It’s a good idea to get an upgraded version of the apple schnapps (Bols for instance). Also be sure to use the white cranberry juice as it is less sweet than the red and, of course, will allow the green color from the schnapps to dictate the cocktail’s hue.
You’ll need to serve your fellow drinkers at least one green food – and this one is a change from the usual creamy dip. Absolutely no Irish ingredients but you could put out soda bread with it instead of crackers.
SWEET PEA SPREAD
1/4 cup canola oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 lb. frozen baby peas (3 cups), thawed
3 Tbsp. yellow miso
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the scallions, ginger and jalapeño and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the pea mixture to a food processor and let cool slightly. Add the miso and 1/4 cup of water and puree until smooth. Spoon the spread into a bowl.
You can make this a day in advance and refrigerate until the big day.
I’m going to sip a Guinness while I figure out the workings of my seldom-used food processor. Slainte!