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.
St Patrick's Day cocktails
Clover Club No.3 (Difford's recipe)
With: Raspberries, dry gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.
We say: Easy drinking and creamy in texture – with notes of raspberry gin, citrus and delicate spice.
Dublin Minstrel (Difford's recipe)
With: Irish whiskey, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice.
We say: A riff on the classic Last Word cocktail substituting Irish whiskey for gin.
With: Irish whiskey, sweet vermouth, crème de menthe and peppermint bitters.
We say: A Irish whiskey-based Sweet Manhattan flavoured with a splash of minty emerald-coloured liqueur and peppermint bitters.
Every-Body's Irish Cocktail
With: Irish whiskey, Green Chartreuse and crème de menthe.
We say: Like the Incredible Hulk, this drink packs a dangerous green punch – a whiskey-laced, minty, Carthusian green punch.
With: Dry gin, gentian liqueur, green melon liqueur, dry vermouth and americano bianco.
We say: Gin-laced, bittersweet with melon fruit and herbal complexity.
With: Irish whiskey, lime juice and ginger ale.
We say: Simple but surprisingly delicious and very refreshing thanks to cleansing lime sourness.
Irish Old Fashioned
With: Irish whiskey, sugar syrup, orange bitters and Angostura Aromatic Bitters.
We say: Dry and yet smooth and refined as Old-Fashioneds go.
St. Patrick's Day
With: Irish whiskey, Green Chartreuse, crème de menthe, lime juice, sugar syrup, absinthe and soda water.
We say: Verdant, vibrant, and virtuous – so virtuous that it's saintly! Faintly minty, herbal, and citrusy with whiskey making it a helluva craic.
With: Irish whiskey, dry vermouth, Green Chartreuse and crème de menthe.
We say: One for St Patrick's Day.
With: Irish whiskey, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar syrup and green food colour gel.
We say: Looks like it should be minty but don't be deceived by the verdant colour, it's actually a tasty whiskey citrus sour.