Everyone has their own interpretation of a proper St. Patrick’s Day celebration — almost all of which include an abundance of green and some form of spirituous beverage. Even though festivities may look a bit different this year, there’s no shortage of celebratory drinks to help ring in the 17th.
From the traditional Guinness and whiskey drinks, to cocktails with a hint of green, VinePair asked bartenders — including a few with Irish roots — what they plan to imbibe. Whether the plan is a raucous Zoom call with friends and family or a quiet night with a pint along with a timeless Irish flick, read on for expert picks that cater to any degree of revelry.
The Best St. Patty’s Day Drinks Recommended by Bartenders
- Irish-American Coffee
- Irish Car Bomb
- Club soda and bitters
- Pint of Guinness and a shot of Jameson
- Irish whiskey
- Tom Collins
- Frozen Irish Coffee
- Black Velvet
- Green Swizzle
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended drinks!
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“As a first-generation American with two Irish parents, I make what I call an ‘Irish-American Coffee’ on St. Patrick’s Day. It calls for bottled-in-bond bourbon (I like to use Evan Williams), Demerara syrup, coffee, cinnamon whipped cream, and shaved chocolate. St. Paddy’s Day is an all-day (drinking) event, so this will definitely help you power through!” —Shane O’Neill, Lead Bartender, Quality Eats, NYC
“Even though I pride myself on making original cocktails, on St. Paddy’s I’ll always do at least one Irish Car Bomb as a self-made tradition.” —Steven Nichols, Cocktail Curator, Mathews Food & Drink, Jersey City, N.J.
“St. Patrick’s Day as a bartender can prove to be an obstacle: You have to brace for the overwhelming crowds (pre-Covid), including amateurs who can be the worst customers you’ll have all year. Then, there’s the sinking feeling you’re neglecting your prized regulars as you succumb to the crush. I’m keeping it simple and drinking club soda with a few dashes of Angostura bitters to keep it calm and refreshing.” —Daniel Kwon, Manager/Bartender, SouthGate, Philadelphia
“My go-to cocktail for St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional Daiquiri. When I go out, I usually like getting a classic cocktail along with whatever is on the menu. Daiquiris are a usual go-to of mine due to their refreshing simplicity. The pale green color definitely doesn’t hurt on St. Patrick’s Day.” —Josh Batista, Beverage Director, Moonrise Izakaya, NYC
“For St. Patrick’s Day, I do love a classic Guinness because it’s full on flavor and low on alcohol. It’s the only beer that is always stocked at home. If I reach for an Irish whiskey to celebrate, I will choose a pot still like Redbreast or Powers ‘John’s Lane.’ I limit my drinking, so these two make it worth my time at every sip.” —Dean Hurst, Beverage Director, Datz Restaurant Group, Tampa Bay, Fla.
“This St. Patty’s Day, I’m going green but staying true to Maine fashion as we are the Pine Tree State, after all. I will be putting back a Spruce Tip Tom Collins with Bimini Overproof Gin from Round Turn Distilling in Biddeford, Maine. The bright green color and fresh flavor being au naturel make it even more delicious.” —LyAnna Sanabria, Bartender, Round Turn Distilling/Via Vecchia/Pacifico, Maine
“I’m from Hartford, Conn., and St. Patrick’s Day is the thing to hit downtown since the Whalers left town. A good Irish Coffee is a no brainer, as is Redbreast 12-year neat. For hotter climates like Sarasota, Fla., or, let’s say, New Orleans, a frozen Irish Coffee, especially one from the Erin Rose, is a must. I have an amazing Irish Cream recipe that hits the spot, as well. There’s so many options!” —David Roth, Beverage Director, KOJO, Sarasota, Fla.
“Redbreast 15-year is my favorite Irish whiskey: It’s velvety and fruity, with just enough oak.” —Louis Andia, General Manager, Chikarashi Isso and Nakaji, NYC
“Black Velvet with a side of Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey. The Black Velvet is Guinness with hard cider. As a mixed- race kid (on my white Canadian side, my grandmother is Irish) it has always been a family ritual for my grandmother to meet up in an Irish pub that has a live band playing traditional Irish music. I always loved Guinness, but it can get heavy. The Black Velvet is a perfect balance with some lightness and sweetness. With a Tullamore D.E.W. Whiskey as a chaser to keep the Irish Strong mentality on that specific day, it makes a great combination. To me, it is an inherent part of Irish-feel on St. Patrick’s Day.” —Alex Cajuste, Bartender/General Manager, Miss Lily’s 7a Cafe, NYC
“As yet another St. Patrick’s Day stays clear of normal service for me in the Dylan Whisky Bar, Kilkenny, it sees us yet again returning to a home stay-cation. I will undoubtedly be repeating my Tiki-filled celebrations, as the occasion is a polar opposite to how we usually indulge and celebrate this fine Irish tradition. … Much like we lean on folklore to insight St. Patrick, himself, chasing snakes out of Ireland, I turn to old Tiki cultural references to adapt to such an occasion. Wormwood is believed to be one of the secret ingredients behind an early 1900s Green Swizzle, also a staple mystery ingredient known as Herbstura — a 50-50 combination of bitters and absinthe. I blend an Irish bitters from Off the Cuffe’s aptly named Hedgerow aromatic bitters with Pernod herbsaint, combined with a pistachio syrup to give [the cocktail] a green hue. Pairing the sweet, ginger-forward heat of a Barbados traditional Falernum with the beautifully layered Two Stacks Irish Whiskey, we can play off the hints of charred dark fruits to brighten up any home service.” —Chris Hennessy, Bartender, Dylan Whisky Bar, Kilkenny, Ireland