On St. Patrick's Day, it's easy drinking green
March 13th, 2013
09:30 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

Consider the Shamrock Shake. It’s green, it’s creamy, you can get it during the month of March, and since McDonald’s introduced the thing in 1970, they’ve sold more than 60 million of them - the equivalent of 39 gallons of Shamrock Shake for every single person currently alive in Ireland. That’s a whole lot of shake goin’ on.

But of course there are other things you can drink for St. Patrick’s Day. Green beer, well, yeah. I think we can safely move on from that addled inspiration. Ditto the giant foam leprechaun hats. So how about a green cocktail, then?

One of the best green-hued concoctions is the Last Word, a Prohibition-era drink that originated at the Detroit Athletic Club and was later introduced to New Yorkers by one Frank Fogarty, a vaudeville performer known as “The Dublin Minstrel.” It’s simple and direct: three-quarters of an ounce each of gin, lime juice, green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur, shaken with ice and served up in a cocktail glass.

Another classic - in at least as it summons images of the late-’50s and early-’60s - is the Grasshopper. (It is also apparently the ideal drink to bring chilled in a thermos to a beauty pageant, at least according to one Texas lady of a certain age with whom I’m acquainted.)

Again equal parts, this time of crème de menthe, crème de cacao and fresh cream, shaken with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass, it is mighty green indeed. Up north, they sometimes use mint ice cream and a blender, but that’s not what I grew up with.

Finally, on this green theme, there’s the Death in the Afternoon, an aptly named drink invented by Ernest Hemingway. Why he invented it, I do not know. But in any case: Find a Champagne flute and pour an ounce and a half of absinthe into it. (Not all absinthes are green, despite the stuff being nicknamed “the green fairy,” so if you insist on drinking one of these for St. Paddy’s day, choose appropriately; Lucid works very well.) Now add Champagne to fill the glass.

The result will be milky in hue, with a kind of opalescent green shimmer, the way one might expect cobra venom to look. Hemingway’s advice was to drink “three to five of these, slowly,” which to me sounds ambitious, and possibly lethal. I’d stick to one, personally.

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Filed under: Cocktail Recipes • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Sip • St. Patrick's Day

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. PDG2

    I think the math is wrong in computing the number of gallons of Shamrock Shake per Irish person. If 60,000,000 shakes have been sold (or purchased) in total – and assuming each shake has a volume of approx one quart, then you have 60,000,000 / 4 = 15,000,000 gallons. Divide that by the population of Ireland (4,500,000) and you get ~3.3 gallons per Irish person. On the other hand – I am with Scott on this one - I suspect that well over 60M shakes have been purchased over the last 40+ years. In any case, the math is a little questionable.

    March 21, 2014 at 1:29 am |
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  5. Jokes_on-You

    There was once a time in history when Irish people were seen as sub-humans

    March 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  6. Weeds

    I'll have what Hemingway is having.

    March 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  7. M.E.

    Anything with Midori works pretty well. I advise mixing it with sprite for a long-term sipping drink. It's so sweet that you can make two or three last all night and you don't want to go over that lest you get a vicious hangover.

    March 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  8. Scott

    Only 60 million shakes in 43+ years? For a behemoth like McDonalds? Seems kinda low. Also, there are 4.5 million people in Ireland. If they've made enough for each of those people to have 39 gallons, it means they've made 175,500,000 gallons. Figure 6 shakes per gallon and that's over a billion shakes, not 60 million.

    March 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • knewagirl

      They are only sold one month a year and they taste just like pepto bismol – I know some folks really like them but I can't stand them!

      March 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  9. Jess

    Midori Sour would be my green drink of choice.
    I'm a lightweight, and I love it. Such a cheap drunk.

    March 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
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