March 17, 2016
Some years ago, I lived in New York and had two friends recently arrived from Ireland. Neither of them thought well of America's St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Considering the tsunami of green garb and schlock, Siobhan asked bemusedly, "What does any of this have to do with Ireland?" Dermot was less generous. "If I see another f****** shamrock, I’m going to kill someone." Neither wanted anything to do with the raucous Manhattan parade or hordes of sodden boys and girls with clovers painted on their cheeks.
That does not, however, mean one should hide inside and pretend it is not March 17. It is what it is, and one should embrace this spring-heralding holiday.
To this end, there are some very basic don't and do's for having a decent St. Patrick's Day. Don’t affect an Irish accent. Don't say "lassie" or, god forbid, "Begorrah." Suppress the temptation to put on an emerald green plastic derby, or hang a cardboard cut-out Leprechaun on your wall or window. And, perhaps most critically of all, don’t get stupid drunk. It's embarrassing.
As for the do's, well, there is only one: drink good Irish drinks, such as these:
Irish Spirits: Potcheen (AKA Irish Moonshine)
For those looking for a rarer and more intense Irish experience, there is potcheen (also spelled poitín and poteen). For centuries, the Irish made their own moonshine, and in the past 20 years licit versions have been coming to market. Knockeen Hills is an especially good one. It comes in strengths varying from 120 to 180 proof. Yet, this clear spirit is so smooth you would not know it. If you can’t find Knockeen Hills or another potcheen on the bar shelf, ask the barkeep if he or she might have a bottle stowed away. You never know.
Whatever you do this St. Patrick's Day, don’t drink green beer. It is not Irish - it usually is a cheap American lager tinted with food coloring. Besides, you owe it to yourself and your fellow man to set a good example.