Friday, March 12, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

Like many of you, I associate March with the coming of spring, warmer weather ahead and of course St. Patrick's Day.  Being an "Irishman" by birth (my maternal grandfather's family came from the land of rolling hills and leprechauns) and then by marriage, it seems only fitting that I celebrate the luck of the Irish. 

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and of course we celebrate by donning anything and everything green.  It is a religious day in Ireland and here in the states it's a day to celebrate your heritage (everyone seems to be a little Irish on St. Paddy's Day) and of course to drink!  Most Irishmen go for the beer, but I prefer a lovely Irish Coffee or a Bailey's Irish Martini.

When San Francisco restaurateur Jack Koeppler introduced the classic Irish Coffee to America in 1952, it was described as "coffee strong as a friendly hand, cream rich as an Irish brogue, sugar as sweet as the tongue of a rogue and Irish whiskey as smooth as the wit of the land."  If you prefer something a little more Irish and cool, try the Bailey's Irish Martini, an "all-Irish liquor" in a simple, smooth concoction.

Irish Coffee - Recipe courtesy of Tony Abou-Ganim,
This recipe has two variations from the original ingredients: it's topped with cinnamon for extra kick and it uses refined instead of brown sugar.

1-1/2 oz. Irish Whiskey
2 sugar cubes
Freshly-brewed coffee, dark roast
Homemade whipped cream
Ground cinnamon, optional

Brew a pot of your favorite dark roast coffee. Whip up heavy cream until firm, but not stiff. Do not sweeten. Heat your Irish Coffee glasses by filling them with hot water. (Always serve hot drinks in a preheated glass.)
In the heated glass, dissolve 2 sugar cubes in the fresh brewed coffee. Add Irish Whiskey. Top with a dollop of freshly-whipped cream, and for an extra kick sprinkle cinnamon on top.
  • Try substituting your favorite spirits and liqueurs for the Irish Whiskey.
  • Always serve with a napkin for dabbing whipped cream moustache.
  • Don't serve with straws as the trick is to sip the hot coffee through the chilled whipped cream. 

Bailey's Martini
This three-ingredient recipe comes straight from the files of the Baileys Irish company and puts a martini twist on the classic Irish Coffee.  It's both spirited and simple with a shot of strong, cold coffee for an extra kick.

3 1/2 oz. Baileys Irish cream
3/4 oz. Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey
Shot of strong, cold coffee
Chocolate sprinkles

Drop some ice cubes into a shaker and pour over Baileys. Add Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey, then a shot of strong cold coffee. Shake vigorously and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles.

However you celebrate on March 17th and whatever you decide to raise in your glass, remember this Irish toast:

May neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and heaven accept you!

"Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!"
 Happy St. Patrick's Day!

quote and photos courtesy of Fine Living: Food & Drink (

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