There is a simple reason I always hated working the St. Patrick's Day shift at my bar: the place would slowly fill up with kids whose mission that night was to get as drunk as possible in as short a time as possible, move on to the next bar, rinse, lather and repeat. Is that you? If you're not careful, simply venturing out of your house today might cast you in that light.
So in the spirit of brotherly bartender love, I give you five commandments to save you from the fiery flames of the St. Patrick's Day drinking debacle. Heed fast, my children, lest you wake up in a pool of Guinness and vomit.
- Take proper care of your bartender by tipping well.
Advantage: The possibility—although unlikely—of avoiding a four-deep wait at the bar.
The first and most important rule of St. Patrick's Day drinking is to take that lil' pot o' gold you've been hoarding since payday and share it with the only leprechaun who can make your dream come true: your barkeep. Bartenders put up with a lot on nights like this—pukers, screamers, assholes, underage drinkers, sloppy drunks, horny Irishmen, stupid jokes, the indignity of mixing disgusting drinks with offensively bad names. Show them you're different. Tip the hell out of them.
- If you're hosting the party, take proper care of your guests.
Advantage: You'll earn a reputation as that guy who throws bitchin' parties.
Let's start with the music—folks can only listen to the Chieftains for so long before they need to rock out to the Pogues. But if you don't know who Shane MacGowan is, then you should probably just opt for the Dropkick Murphys, you lil' whippersnapper. Then there's the food—corned beef and cabbage it if you must, but remember: Ireland isn't known for its gourmet kibble. And of course, there's the drinks. Do not—I repeat, do not—stiff your guests. Check out the Kegulator for help determining just how much beer to buy for your St. Patrick's Day party.
- Do not order green beer.
Advantage: You won't have to drink green beer.
Beer doesn't come in green. Drinking beer that does makes you blend in with the crowd of drunken amateurs around you.
- Do not order an Irish Car Bomb.
Advantage: You won't look like the world's biggest dickhead.
When I was bartending, I refused to serve these nasty little depth charges (mostly because our 4-oz shot glasses wouldn't fit into our pints, thank god). Ordering one of these drinks labels you either a college student who just turned 21, a drunken asshole, or both.
- Do not turn to the girl or guy next to you and slur "Kiss me, I'm Irish."
Advantage: You'll be less likely to wake up with crabs.
One of the worst things about St. Patrick's Day is the mess that ensues once the cavalcade of amateurs has knocked back a few Guinness and several shots of Bushmills. I can't guarantee that you won't go home with the strange drunk next to you if you avoid this cliché, but you'll certainly reduce your chances. Isn't it worth it?
- Plan your drinking accordingly.
Advantage: You get to enjoy St. Patrick's Day on your own terms.
The easiest way to avoid the amateurs is to start drinking during happy hour. Knock off as the idiots start to come out and you'll have made the day shift bartender happy, gotten a nice little buzz on, and made it home just in time to avoid the press of green-clad revelers.
- Get creative with your cocktails.
Advantage: Distinguish yourself from the masses.
Noone says that you have to drink Guinness and whiskey all night. Try Stephen Beaumont's list of stout cocktails, or consider something from the Cocktail Chronicles.
If you have some do's and don'ts you'd like to share, feel free to leave us a comment. It can only benefit the good of mankind.
[And yes, that's the shirt I wore on my St. Patty's Day shifts.]