"Saint Pat's Day reminds me of Halloween," says Jack McGarry, a Dublin native and a bartender at the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York City. "It's a good excuse to behave badly."
With that in mind, Details asked some veteran barkeeps to describe what really happens on March 17 (that's Monday, folks) inside the bars they manage—and how good, decent boozers can escape the amateur-hour, green-beer goofballs. The esteemed experts include the aforementioned McGarry, Jamie Walsh of Stoddard's Food & Ale in Boston, and Doug Quinn of Hudson Malone in New York. Warning: Foul language ahead.
ON THE LOATHESOMENESS OF GREEN BEER:
"We hashtag on Twitter #nogreenbeer for the week leading up to our party," says Jamie Walsh.
"I marvel at the yin and the yang of it," Doug Quinn quips. "The day usually starts out with a wonderful energy and spirit, a nice Irish coffee with freshly stirred, slightly whipped heavy cream floating on top. But at some point, some knucklehead is going to ask you for green beer as the day progresses."
ON WHAT TO DRINK INSTEAD:
"I wouldn't look past Guinness—I love Guinness," notes Jack McGarry, adding, "Most Irish [people] drink ales and stouts, such as Guinness, Smithwick's, and Kilkenny."
"I like more nontraditional Irish whiskey," Walsh says. "Locally, here in Boston, Grand Ten Distilleries is bottling an Irish whiskey that is very good. I am a big fan of Kilbeggan, Tyrconnell, and I love Powers."
"You can never go wrong with the Blackthorn Cocktail, and I am talking about the one from the Savoy book."
Recipe for the Blackthorn:
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• 2 dashes absinthe
• 1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey
• 1 1/4 oz dry vermouth
ON PAYING PROPERLY FOR DRINKS AND TIPPING:
"Get cash!" Walsh says. "Very important. Put 40 bucks each into a 'kitty' and then pay as you go, buying whole rounds. Repeat: buying whole rounds. Bartenders hate being one'd to death and love being overtipped early. That shit from Goodfellas? That really does work."
ON THE TRADITIONAL APPEAL OF CIDER:
"Cider is a big thing," says McGarry, and not just because it's a trend in the U.S. now. "You'll find cider in every bar in Ireland. Our big cider at Dead Rabbit is Blackthorn."
ON IRISH CAR BOMBS (THE COCKTAIL):
"Irish Car Bombs are for morons and meatheads," Walsh says. "I always think that if these dopes want to get that fucked-up, find a bar that has green chartreuse and have at it. Seriously, power drinking is overrated. Be Frank and Dean!"
ON KICKING PEOPLE OUT:
"Don't be that guy. Don't be a motherfucker. Don't do it," admonishes Walsh. "Every barman (and woman) on this day is a guard at Checkpoint Charlie. They are looking for an excuse to toss you. They just got $40 from you at the door and another $6 for the beer with green food coloring in it. They have no problem losing you for the next guy."
ON HOW BARTENDERS KEEP UP WITH DEMAND:
"We always add a second or third line to keep up," Walsh says. "All half-pours and then top them off, that's the trick."
ON THE RULES OF LAST CALL:
"Don't be afraid to wrap it up a little early, meaning think to what your ugly hour is," Walsh advises. "In Boston, on a Monday and Saint Patrick's Day? You should be wrapped up by 1 A.M. . . . If you let a member of the green army in after 1 A.M., then you are the asshole."
—Follow Anthony Giglio on Twitter at @WineWiseGuy.
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