St. Paddy’s Day and Irish Drinking Culture – Episode #013

St. Paddy's - Cocktails - Speaking Easy Podcast

Irish Episode: Now With A Real Life Irish Person

Saint Patrick’s Day is a celebration unlike many others—the drinking, the clothing, the merriment—but it has actual historical roots. The Speaking Easy crew looks into the Irish tradition to get to the root, inviting an Irish friend along to talk about how the holiday is celebrated across the pond. This, perhaps, sheds a little bit of light onto the world-famous culture—of toasting with your friends, of whiskey and written word, and of Ireland herself—and makes for a great conversation.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The real story of St. Patrick (and about those pesky snakes, or lack thereof)
  • A little about Irish drinking culture and history
  • The importance of Irish whiskey to other kinds of whiskey
  • A few cocktails to celebrate St. Paddy’s * with that don’t involve green food coloring

Wise Words:

“The heart of an Irishman is nothing but his imagination” ― George Bernard Shaw

“When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So, let’s all get drunk, and go to heaven!” –Irish toast

“Sláinte!”—A basic Gaelic toast, essentially “to health”.

Who was St. Patrick?

  • Born as Maewyn Succat in AD 35 in Great Britain, he was a pagan until 16. He had been taken into slavery to the Druids and became a Christian in captivity. He fled slavery to go back home, and eventually studied at a monastery. When he was appointed a bishop in Ireland, he went back and converted mass amounts of people to Christianity (pagans were known as “snakes,” thus the idea that St. Patrick drove the ‘snakes’ out of Ireland). He died on March 17, thus why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on that day.

Irish Whiskey:

  • Most Irish pot still whiskey is distilled thrice, while most (but not all) Scotch whisky is distilled twice.
  • Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world, though a long period of decline from the late 19th century onwards greatly damaged the industry.
  • The word ‘whiskey’ (or whisky) comes from the Gaelic uisce beatha, meaning water of life. Irish whiskey was one of the earliest distilled drinks in Europe, arising around the 12th century.
  • Only 12 Distilleries in Ireland, but only 7 old enough to have aged spirit actually made on site.
  • A recent WhiskyCast Podcast and Mark Gillespie has a great interview with Irish Whisky historian Fionnán O’Connor


Irish moonshine/white dog, though often diluted—is illegal since 1661, but exported

  • Traditionally distilled from malted barley, grain, treacle, sugar or potatoes.
  • The Irish Word for pot, as in pot still, is pota.
  • The Irish word for a hangover is póit.

A few of our favorite Irish whiskeys:

  • Irish Whiskey - Cocktails - Speaking Easy PodcastGreen Spot – This single pot still Irish whiskey is truly an experience, with spice and barley flavor to boot. Aged in American bourbon and sherry casks.
  • Teeling – From the first distillery in Dublin in a long time, this is a new brand to the market but making a big splash with a great spicy character. Finished in a barrel that held rum, a touch of sweetness puts this whiskey into a new place.
  • Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition – Aged in a barrel that previously held some stout beer for aging, this is a truly tasty whiskey. This isn’t the Jameson-and-ginger you’re used to. Sip responsibly.

An Bohdran Cocktail

  • 25 oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey
  • .5 oz Port
  • 1 tsp Maple sugar
  • Egg
  • 1 Mint bitters

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake for about a minute and strain into a chilled coupe glass, garnishing with three drops of mint bitters

*The Irish shortening of Patrick is Paddy, not Patty, as Americans often do.


What are your St. Paddy’s Day traditions?