How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
Listen you dirty heathen, there’s allot to this holiday that get’s lost in the drinking festivities. I’m not Irish by any means but I have a odd obsession with St. Patrick’s Day. Everyone seems to know that St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland but what few people know is that he’s also the patron saint of engineering as well! Who knew right?
So obviously, having been an engineer in my past life, I have to give this holiday the respect that it deserves not only from a love of drinking but from a professional aspect as well. St. Patrick was known for not only establishing churches across Ireland but also physically building them. He was thought to have taught them to build lime mortar arches instead of using dry masonry. Either way, what I’m trying to say is, ya get drunk and have a good time but know a little bit about the history as well!
Ireland has a rich culture and has many wonderful traditions but the one that seems to reach the furthest is that of St. Patrick’s day. It’s celebrated on March 17th which is when St Patrick himself is thought to have passed away. Everyone wears green, drinks Guinness, and eats some form of potato. They wear some stupid green clover leaf beads and stumble about the streets muttering Drop Kick Murphy songs. This is a sad state of affairs when you think about the original cultural impact of the holiday but it is what Americans have come to expect of the holiday. So how can you bring in the money, have a good time, and stick to the spirit of the original holiday for the patron saint of Ireland who is celebrated for bring Christianity to the country?
Well first off everybody should wear green. This isn’t even a question, you have to wear green! Now, I know the original color of St. Patrick was blue, but the color green is associated with Ireland and their independence. Green is also thought to make you invisible to leprechauns, which apparently love to raise mischief and pinch people. So to bring people in and promote a fun environment give some kind of discount for people wearing green!
My feelings on green beer? Well I’m rather opinionated here and my opinion is F*** green beer. I won’t do it at my bar and I kind of hate the tradition. That being said, I get why people do it. I think for most bars it makes sense, people will love it. For craft beer bars, I think it’s actually kind of offensive. People go to craft beer bars to enjoy beers the way the brewers intended it, they don’t go so that you can put green food coloring in it.
How about drink specials? Guinness and Jameson are obvious choices. These are both traditional and awesome choices. I love Guinness and Jameson is pretty much the only whiskey I drink (no I wasn’t paid for this endorsement). Now for some other drink specials that wouldn’t go over so well in Ireland but seem to be big hits here in America. You can run them if you like, and I have ran them at my bar, but just recognize that they are pretty offensive to any real Irishmen. The most offensive drink that Americans seem to love is the Irish car bomb, named after the NRA’s car bombs that wrecked havoc for Ireland in their not so distant past. Another offensive drink that most people would never think of is the Black And Tan drink. A Black And Tan is a pale ale layered with Guinness on top to most Americans. To many Irish though, a Black And Tan is an oppressive British paramilitary force occupying their homeland. Nowadays both “Irish Car Bomb” and “Black & Tan” drinks have become so accepted in America it’s almost impossible to not have them. I think if you’re running a craft beer bar though you should be able to explain why those are offensive and hopefully offer different names for them — “Irish Boilermaker” and “Half & Half” maybe?
Hand out trinkets! People love trinkets and stupid little toys. So to promote a fun environment and get the people, going hand out as much green crap as you can. Usually you can get your suppliers to give you a bunch of free promotional material. Take that free material and give it out to your customers. Throw shamrock necklaces at the group of cute girls at the end of the bar. Have your server put little shamrocks on their customer’s cheek. You might think it’s stupid, lord knows that I do, but people eat that shit up.
So there’s all kinds of crap you can do to make St. Pats a hit at your bar. Just as with any other holiday you can turn it into a big party with balloons, dj’s, bands, shot girls, and all that other crap. But to me, the owner of a craft beer bar, I think it’s important to understand what the real tradition is and mix in some of the American drunkenness that we’ve come to love and accept. Although it was traditionally a religious holiday it has taken on a somewhat demeaning stereotype of our Irish brethren in the form of drunken parties. As a business owner you’ve got to give the people what they want but as a craft beer bar you should try to honor some of the traditional heritage associated with this amazing holiday with such an interesting history. Sláinte!
Originally published at ScottKalwei.