As someone who lived in Canton for nearly all of his 20s, I saw the sloppiness of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations firsthand (and, fine, participated in it, too). Organized bar crawls in the neighborhood, along with Fells Point and Federal Hill, made a holiday feel like a month-long bender.
The fun eventually wore off, in my mind at least, and the festivities turned a bit predictable and cheesy.
Then there’s drinks themselves: Light beer for most; Harp and Guinness for others. And, of course, there’s the Irish Car-bomb — an American invention of Guinness, Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur and Jameson Irish Whiskey meant to be chugged as fast as possible.
Not everyone is a fan of the latter, and understandably so, given Ireland’s history with actual car bombs used as military weapons. I’ve seen patrons ask for them at Irish pubs in Baltimore, only to be met with an eye-roll, a rebuke and a history lesson.
So it seemed like a good time to consider alternatives as to how we imbibe on St. Patrick’s Day. We asked three Baltimore bartenders to concoct cocktails inspired by the holiday that you can order at their respective bars. Recipes are included for those wanting to try at home.
These drinks should be sipped, according to their creators. Best of all, they lack offensive names. As they say in Ireland, “Slainte.”
Verde’s The Sophia
(641 S. Montford Ave., verdepizza.com; $4 on St. Patrick’s Day, $12 normally — on menu now and for foreseeable future)
¾ ounce Paddy Irish whiskey
¾ ounce Bittermens New Orleans Coffee Liqueur
Single shot espresso or 1½ ounces dark roast coffee
1½ ounces raspberry-cream cordial*
Whipped cream and nutmeg (optional)
*To create the cordial, add one can condensed sweet cream, one quart of raspberries, ½ cup of Everclear or vodka and 3 cups of milk or heavy cream to a blender. Sweeten to taste. (Stores in refrigerator for up to a month.)
Stir all of the ingredients together. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh ground nutmeg.
Last year, Christian Stoddart, beverage director of Canton’s Verde, tried the coffee at the famous Café du Monde in New Orleans and loved its uncommon use of chicory, the root of the endive plant.
So for his take on an Irish coffee cocktail, Stoddart uses a coffee-and-chicory liqueur that adds “an earthy note.” But his favorite aspect is the raspberry-cream cordial, which might take a little extra effort at home. You could use Bailey’s, but he recommends giving your own a try.
“I don’t think it really carries quite the punch that you can do when you make something yourself,” Stoddart said. “To be able to throw in the additional flavors and play with it, and really build it how you enjoy, is the best.”
Barcocina’s Irish Amnesia
(1629 Thames St., barcocina.com; $11 — available March 17-19)
1½ ounces Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey
¾ ounce Guinness-espresso reduction*
¼ ounce Allspice Dram liqueur
1 ounce Bailey’s
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
*To create the Guinness-espresso reduction, bring 1 pint of Guinness, 1 shot of espresso and ¼ cup of Demerara sugar to boil in a pot. Let simmer until reduced by half.
Combine whiskey, reduction and Allspice Dram in a shaker tin with ice. Shake and strain over ice into a double rocks glass.
Whisk Bailey’s, whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff. Top drink with whipped cream mixture and garnish with espresso beans.
Liz Jankiewicz, bar manager at Barcocina in Fells Point, wanted to elevate the flavors of an Irish Car-bomb, while rejecting its problematic title. “Irish Amensia” is a term Ireland locals use as a way of saying, “I’ll forgive you but I’ll never forget,” she said. In her mind, Jankiewicz is pointing out that the inspiration for her cocktail has an ugly name, but its flavors have merit.
“You might enjoy this cocktail, but you’re not going to forget what the roots of it are,” she said.
The Bailey’s whipped cream won’t curdle like the Bailey’s cream liqueur would, so no need to rush.
“Hopefully, they don’t have to chug this one,” Jankiewicz said.
The Elephant’s The Fitzgerald
(924 N. Charles St., theelephantbaltimore.com, $12 — available March 14-19)
1 ounce Jameson Irish Whiskey
½ ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
½ ounce Green Chartreuse liqueur
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake and strain over ice into a double rocks glass.
Playing off the popular Hemingway Daiquiri, the Elephant bartender Lara Sumerson dedicated her cocktail to another literary giant: F. Scott Fitzgerald, the once-Baltimore resident with Irish roots.
She substituted the Hemingway’s rum for Jameson, and added the Green Chartreuse for a layer of herbal flavor. (Its pale green color is also “sort of an homage to the day itself,” she said.)
Most important to Sumerson is the Fitzgerald’s approachability, with the sweetness of the Luxardo and simple syrup balances the whiskey’s punch. Like the other cocktails here, the hope, she said, is the drink will be enjoyed at one’s leisure.
“With our customer base, nobody’s binge-drinking anymore,” Sumerson said. “It’s more about the community and the company, and just enjoying the day.”