St. Patrick’s Day, with its green beer and endless flow of whiskey, is thought of as one of the biggest drinking days of the year. But it didn’t start out that way—at least not in Ireland. In fact, from 1903 to 1970, St. Patrick’s Day was a dry holiday. It wasn’t until the day was declared a national holiday (as opposed to a day of religious observance) that the pubs opened up in the Emerald Isle on March 17th.
We’ve been imbibing in celebration here in the states for a lot longer. Since the late 19th century, Irish immigrants who came to America have been using the day to celebrate their heritage—and St. Patrick’s Day as we know it was born. There is no shortage of spectacle. New York City produces one of the biggest parades in the world, and Chicago dyes its river green. But, while many of the traditions we have come to associate with the day originated in the U.S., much of the world now takes full advantage of the chance to celebrate.
So, what exactly should you do to mark the occasion? The obvious answer is to drink Guinness. 260 years ago, Arthur Guinness signed a lease at St. James Gate brewery in Dublin, and history was made. It’s said that as many as 13 million pints of Guinness will be enjoyed on March 17th, so you’d certainly be in good (and plentiful) company if you make that your drink of choice.
There are, of course, plenty of other options, both in the beer and cocktail categories. Ireland turns out a number of other non-Guinness beers. There are other Irish dry stouts to choose from, lagers, cream ales, Irish reds and even wheat beers. Ireland Before You Die lists out some of their favorites, many of which you should be able to find in local Irish pubs and bars.
It goes without saying that Irish whiskey should be considered. The Spruce Eats pulled together recommendations that range from higher-end sipping whiskeys, to those that make perfectly delightful cocktails. If you’re not sure what cocktails to make, start by giving an Irish spin to some classic. Swap in Irish whiskey for vodka in a mule, or for rum in a mojito. Anything involving Bailey’s Irish cream—and certainly anything colored green—will make a solid statement. Delish has 17 ideas to check out (and the pictures alone will make you want to give them a try.)
If all else fails, you can always eat your Irish beverage. Buzzfeed dug up a bevy of recipes for cooking with Guinness. It includes desserts, stews and, of course, corned beef sandwiches.
Whatever route you take, if you’re wearing green, have a uKeg full of your favorite drink and are having fun, there’s a very good chance you’re doing St. Patrick’s Day right!