Saint Patrick’s Day
For many, St. Patrick’s Day involves celebrations, parades, and quite possibly a drink or two. If this applies to you, it might help to familiarize yourself with some classic, authentic Irish beverages, wouldn’t it?
Read on as we cover which Irish drinks you can enjoy to help you make the most of your celebrations this year, plus the glassware we recommend for your drink of choice. First though, a little about the day in question to help set the scene.
Celebrated annually on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day marks the passing of Ireland’s foremost patron saint, Saint Patrick. It was then in North America where St. Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the 17th century, with the earliest known festivities and parades occurring there before spreading to Ireland in the 20th century.
Today, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated by millions of people in countries across the globe. So, which drinks might you consider when celebrating this notable day? And how do you get the most out of each drink for an unforgettable St. Patrick’s Day experience?
Dry stout developed from porter beer, which originated in London in the 1700s and was exported in large volumes to Ireland. That same century, Irish brewers began making their own porter, and by the 1800s the brewing process had developed to include the roasted flavors and notes of coffee that typify the dry stout style that has become famous over the years.
Today, dry stout is Ireland’s most popular beer export, with active breweries operating country-wide. This prolificacy is thanks in no small part to Guinness, which has grown into one of the world's largest, most-recognizable beer brands. It even contributes directly to the tourism industry in Ireland, with its Guinness Factor in Dublin holding the title of Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction.
Perhaps a slightly lesser-known beer style outside of the Emerald Isle, red ale has been produced by Irish brewers since the 1700s, making this a particularly productive century when it comes to Irish beer production!
The color of Irish red ale comes from kilned malts and roasted barley used during the brewing process. The malts in particular come out in the flavor of Irish red ales, often accompanied by subtle toffee notes. Irish red ales also frequently feature light hops and a hint of nuttiness.
Until the mid-20th century, Irish red ale was only available in Ireland. However, the acquisition of Irish red ale producer Smithwick’s by Guinness in 1965, following efforts by Smithwick’s themselves to push into foreign markets, has seen this brand of red ale expand into global markets. There is, therefore, a good chance you can get your hands on some Irish red ale wherever you are based!
If you’re after a glass that allows your beer of choice to sparkle while enhancing each and every sip you take, we recommend our tulip-shaped RIEDEL crystal beer glasses, such as our RIEDEL Bar Beer Glass and our RIEDEL Veritas Beer Glass. The bulbous bodies of these glasses allow your beer’s aromas to express themselves as a greater surface area is allowed to breathe, while the sloped sides lengthen the palate of whichever beers you enjoy with each sip. The narrowed openings also help dissipate excess carbonation and maintain a beer head, so you can sip your beers slowly and savor each mouthful without worrying about your beer losing its freshness.
Not a fan of beer? No problem - the Irish are also famous for their whiskey! Irish Whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world, and after a significant drop off in the 20th century, it is back in a big way these days.
To fully experience the fruit and spice aromas commonly found in Irish Whiskey, we recommend enjoying it neat or with a little water. Adding a little water helps to take some of the edge off if you’re not used to drinking whiskey neat. For this, we advise using our specialist RIEDEL Single Malt Whisky Glasses from our famous Vinum and Sommeliers collections – the latter celebrating its 50th anniversary this year! These whisky glasses feature an elongated thistle shape on a truncated stem, alongside a small lip at the rim which highlights a whiskey's sweetness to maximize the enjoyment of it on the palate.
Perhaps you like the idea of whiskey instead of beer, but the idea of a neat whiskey is a little much? If you prefer your whiskey with a mixer, consider choosing ginger beer. The spices of whiskey and ginger beer complement each other wonderfully, putting on a show for your tastebuds, topped off nicely with the hint of sweetness featured in many Irish Whiskeys. For any whiskey and ginger cocktails you decide to concoct, try sipping them from the Double Rocks Glass from the RIEDEL Drink Specific Glassware Collection.
Finally, if it’s a cool day wherever you are this St. Patrick’s Day, you may prefer to enjoy a hot drink to warm your hands. An Irish Coffee is perfect for this, and all you need for one is some Irish Whiskey, coffee, brown sugar, and a couple of tablespoons of whisked double cream that you pour slowly to float on top. For something a little simpler, a similar alternative is Bailey’s Coffee, which is a straightforward two-ingredient recipe calling for just coffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream.
That’s it – you should be all set now for an enjoyable St. Patrick’s Day, equipped with your favorite Ireland-related drink and a little knowledge to show off to your friends.