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Photo by Patrick Fore / Unsplash

Black St. Patrick's Day

According to the Spectator, St. Patrick's Day is the biggest bar night of the year, surpassing even my favorite holiday, Black Wednesday.

For a country like Ireland, as devoted to its faith as to a good party, the fact that St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent poses a problem. The saint himself is said to have broken his fast during Lent, eating meat instead of fish, for which he was so apologetic that an angel came to give him comfort. Put your meat into a dish of water, the angel said, and it will turn to fish. This Patrick did and was very pleased to see that the angel was right. The meat had turned to fish, and he could partake of it without guilt. The Irish call this miracle “St. Patrick’s Fish,” and feel no qualms about eating a pork roast to celebrate the day.

You can also keep a holy day and drink to excess, if you’re drinking for the right reasons. St. Patrick’s feast day is not just any other day of drinking — it is a solemn duty to toast the health and prosperity of Ireland. In the late eighteenth century a toast was a solemn occasion, and often served as an opportunity to draw attention to one political cause or another. A formal toast called for the removal of the tablecloth — there was no need for it since food would not feature prominently. Drink certainly would. According to nineteenth-century Irish-American John D. Crimmins, who chronicled St. Patrick’s Day in America, the first celebrations took place in New York in 1737. They would begin in the customary way with a toast “To the King of Great Britain and Ireland,” but the respectful tone might be followed by a subversive caveat: “May he use the power granted him by the people to redress their grievances, and do justice to the suffering sons of Erin.” An American audience trying to wrest free of the British monarchy would appreciate the insinuation that the king’s power is given to him by his people. Once the Americans had rid themselves of the monarchy, the Irish had hopes of doing the same. To that end, toasts on St. Patrick’s Day made sure to align the Irish interests with the new American republic’s: “Hail, Columbia — the land we live in. Erin go Bragh — the land we left.”

Irish Americans are still passionately patriotic — and consider their own family histories inseparable from Ireland’s. This can be seen even in the comments of the current American president — arriving in Ireland last year Joe Biden said, “I’m home.” He made good use of the toast as well — quoting a well-loved American phrase: “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish you’re lucky enough.” Like President Biden, Americans of Irish descent view their visits to Ireland as a kind of pilgrimage. In 2019, 2 million North Americans visited Ireland. In 2021 there were roughly 2.1 visitors to every one resident, and $5.2 million spent. In Northern Europe, Ireland ranks first in tourist numbers per capita, and fifteenth in the world.

You needn’t travel to Ireland to celebrate its saint’s day, however — parties in New York, Boston and Chicago far exceed those in Ireland or anywhere else in the world. 

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For a country like Ireland, as devoted to its faith as to a good party, the fact that St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent poses a problem.

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I really gotta get me a decanter set. I dig the cut-glass look, plus it'll allow me to put just a few bottles on top of the bar (the other bottles can be stashed away in a nearby hiding spot). Added bonus: I can put rot gut in them and no one will know unless they're drinking neat, which virtually no one does.

The problem is, it appears I will greatly reduce the shelf life of the bourbon: to about three months. On top of that, I'd also have to splurge on those little dog tags to drape around the bottles' necks.

Anyway, I have my eyes set on two sets of these mini-decanters, so no set of booze sits in them for too long.

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Podcast Episode Dedicated to Gin

The intro music and the guest are pleasant, but the acoustics are rough. I haven't finished listening to it yet, but I will push through later today.

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In our first podcast devoted to gin, we talk with Brendan Bartley, head bartender and beverage director at the renowned speakeasy Bathtub Gin