Seasonal Sips: 5 Green Cocktails to Get You Through St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick holding a green cocktail
Photo Courtesy: Archive Photos/Stringer/Getty Images; Claudio Ventrella/iStock

As every schoolchild knows, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates a missionary named — you guessed it — Patrick. After a fun adolescence that saw him kidnapped by pirates, he spent much of the 5th century trying to convert the pagan natives of Ireland to Christianity. (He was largely successful, and the Emerald Isle never suffered any religious strife again.)

He is famously credited with ridding Ireland of snakes. But since Ireland never had any snakes to begin with, we must also credit him as an early pioneer of lazy self-aggrandizement.

Legend has it he died on March 17, and every year people around the world honor his legacy by wearing green and drinking themselves into oblivion. For this St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve gathered some green cocktails to offer a reprieve from your regular schedule of Guinness pints and Jameson shots.

Irish Flag

Start your morning with a shot of Irish patriotism. When made properly, this shooter is a beautiful visual representation of the flag of the Republic of Ireland. The orange represents the Protestants, the green represents the Catholics, and the white represents the hope of peace between the two. (I know, pretty heavy stuff for a shot of straight booze.)

The only tricky part here is layering the ingredients properly. Make sure to refrigerate all three bottles first. This should ensure that the colors don’t run into each other. Note that the order of the pours — green, white, orange — is essential to getting the flag right. You don’t want to accidentally make an Ivory Coast Flag and trigger an international incident.

  • .5 oz crème de menthe
  • .5 oz Bailey’s Irish cream
  • .5 oz Grand Marnier
  • Layer the ingredients in order by pouring them over the back of a bar spoon
  • Throw open your window and shout, “Top o’ the mornin’ to ye!” in your worst Irish accent
  • Bask in your neighbors’ applause

Irish Eyes

Following in the longstanding St. Patrick’s Day tradition of slapping the word “Irish” ahead of any random noun, this drink plays like a more spirit-forward take on a grasshopper. And the mint makes it a nice lunchtime refresher. If you want more of a boozy milkshake vibe, swap out the half and half for heavy cream. You can also sprinkle some cocoa powder on top if you’re into that kind of thing.

Fun fact: The tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day stems from a superstition that anyone not wearing green would be pinched by a leprechaun, begging the question of why the early Irish folk were so worried about being pinched by leprechauns.

  • 1 oz Jameson Irish whiskey
  • .25 oz crème de menthe
  • 2 oz half and half
  • Shake with ice and serve over ice in a rocks glass
  • Garnish with maraschino cherry

Recipe adapted from Spruce Eats.

Death in the Afternoon

A green cocktail
Photo Courtesy: bhofack2/iStock

According to the 1935 cocktail book So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon, this one was invented by Ernest Hemingway and three naval officers on the H.M.S. Danae after spending several hours rescuing a fishing boat belonging to some guy named Bra Saunders. The name comes from Hemingway’s 1932 treatise on bullfighting, in which many, many bulls die.

While Hemingway was not Irish, he did spend his wanton 20s drinking his way through the bars of Paris with James Joyce. Joyce apparently had a habit of trash-talking his fellow drinkers and then, just as it looked like things might get physical, saying to his younger, fitter companion: “Deal with him, Hemingway.”

Follow Papa’s original instructions: “Pour one jigger of absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”

Emerald Isle

Have you ever wished for a martini that sets your mouth on fire? Great news, you’ve found your new favorite cocktail. The Emerald Isle is not for the faint of heart, but it can serve as an effective late-afternoon pick-me-up to keep you celebrating after sunset.

The recipe is simple — but there’s a very fine line here between too much crème de menthe and not enough. It’s worth splurging on a slightly more upscale brand like Drillaud, if you can find it. If you’re feeling particularly masochistic, rinse the coupe glass in absinthe first.

  • 1.5 oz dry gin
  • 1 barspoon of crème de menthe
  • 2 dashes of angostura bitters
  • Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass
  • Do not exhale near an open flame for at least 30 minutes

Last Word

The Last Word was purportedly invented in Detroit by a vaudevillian named Frank Fogarty (a.k.a. the “Dublin Minstrel”), which we’re going to say makes it Irish enough to count as a St. Patrick’s Day classic. It’s one of those mixology miracles that looks like a mess on paper, but all the ingredients come together to make it the perfect nightcap to a day of drunken revelry. 

  • .75 oz gin
  • .75 oz green chartreuse
  • .75 oz maraschino liqueur
  • .75 oz fresh lime juice
  • Shake with ice and serve in a chilled coupe glass
  • Garnish with a brandied cherry