St Patrick’s Day is as good excuse as any to drink Irish whisky, Guinness, nostalgia, wearing green, listening to folk music and generally celebrating the man who, allegedly, banished all snakes from Ireland after they disturbed him while he was fasting. (There are indeed no snakes in Ireland, but this is because they never came back after the last ice age.)
Not that Saint Patrick's Day is entirely an Irish phenomenon. The first recorded Saint Patrick's Day Parade was not in Ireland but in America - in Boston, in 1737. Dublin didn't get its own parade for almost 200 years - and 18 of the 20 largest parades are in the USA.
Saint Patrick is of course the patron saint of Ireland (along with Brigid of Kildare and Columba). Funnily enough though, he might not actually have been Irish - some sources say he was born in Wales in 385AD while others think he was born two years later in Scotland!
When Patrick was 18, he was enslaved by a sheep farmer. He converted to Christianity, and when he escaped four years later, he moved to France where he spent a dozen years in a monastery before moving back to Ireland.
Saint Patrick's symbol is the shamrock (seamrog), which is, most likely, a type of clover. It was a sacred plant to the early Irish druids because it had three leaves, and the number three was sacred in Celtic religion. Sensibly enough, the Christians soon adopted it as a sacred symbol too. Saint Patrick used the shamrock's mystical triad of leaves to teach about Christianity - in particular the Trinity, the holy threesome of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Join in and toast the Emerald Island with emerald-coloured and Irish Whiskey based cocktails. We've a few suggestions below, but first and foremost our own Dublin Minstrel.
Old Grans Punch - Irish whiskey shines in this brilliantly balanced easy-drinking cocktail that will appeal to a wide range of palates.
The Exotic Teapot - Rooibos tea and Irish whiskey complement each other in this full-flavoured cocktail which we prefer when served over ice.
Super Seedy - raspberry fruit richness is balanced by bitter botanical complexity in this Irish whiskey-based alternative to an Old-Fashioned.
Clover Club No.3 (Difford's recipe) - our rendition of a recipe that likely dates back to 19th century Philadelphia
Clover Club No.3 (Lowes Recipe) - gin, dry vermouth, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and egg white
Clover Club (House-Made) - courtesy of Julie Reiner - it's her house cocktail at Clover Club NYC
Shamrock #1 - from David Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks
Shamrock #2 - a palatable green Irish whiskey concoction from Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book
St. Patrick's Day - Irish whiskey, Green Chartreuse, green crème de menthe and Angostura bitters
Irish Coffee Cocktail - Irish whiskey, espresso, brown sugar syrup and cream
Everybody's Irish - Irish whiskey, Green Chartreuse and green crème de menthe