How to celebrate St Patrick's Day
Celebrating St Patrick’s Day? Check out our drinks recommendations and Irish-inspired recipes, from a dauphinoise-style Irish potato bake to Guinness chocolate puddings
St Patrick’s Day has a reputation as a roaring celebratory holiday – thousands of pints of stout will be poured and street parties will buzz all over the world. If you’re raising a toast to the patron saint of Ireland, do so with our favourite Irish-inspired celebratory recipes.
What drinks to serve
Three million pints of Guinness are brewed at the company’s Dublin base every day, in order to satisfy an annual global thirst for 1.8 billion glasses. Beyond large-scale producers such as Guinness and Murphy’s, smaller craft breweries are currently experimenting with traditional stout recipes. Old methods using milk, oatmeal or coffee are being adapted for contemporary palates, with demand rising for super-strength imperial stout.
Whichever version you plump for, try matching stout with food – we recommend it with shellfish, game or chocolate. You could also try cooking with stout. These black velvet baby cakes even mimic the aesthetic beauty of a glass of the black stuff.
Stout also works perfectly in marinades, batter and soup. If you prefer an elegant flute to a tankard, combine stout with Champagne to create a black velvet cocktail. We also have five quick and easy Guinness cocktails that can be mixed up in minutes.
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Not to be confused with Scotch or bourbon, Irish whiskey (don’t forget to add the ‘e') usually has a smoother finish than its peatier relatives on the other side of the Irish Channel. There are only a handful of distilleries operating in Ireland, but their spirits are widely available – popular brands include Bushmills and Jameson, and the Irish craft whiskey scene is thriving.
If you're looking for the perfect bottle to help you celebrate St Patrick's Day, check out our tried and tested review of the best whiskies from Ireland and beyond. Whiskey can be served at room temperature, with ice or in cocktails. We also like to cook with it – try adding a dash to creamy desserts or in a sticky glaze for meat.
Top 10 recipes for St Patrick’s Day
Ireland’s many miles of coastline guarantees a decent seafood haul. Native oysters, Dublin Bay prawns and Atlantic salmon are just some of the top catches you can expect to see glistening in the windows of Irish fishmongers. Perhaps most famed are the “cockles and mussels” from the Molly Malone shanty. Pay homage to the black-shelled beauties by steaming them with leeks, thyme and bacon as a St Patrick’s Day starter.
Falling somewhere between spongy bread and potato patties, these Irish ‘cakes’ have a pancake-like quality. They’re also a great way of using up mashed potatoes. Similar to a Scottish tattie scone, the cakes are fried in a dry pan until golden. Top them with cheese, bacon and tomatoes for a take on the traditional fry-up, or serve with Irish smoked salmon and cream cheese for a starter dish, or (slightly) lighter brunch.
Soda bread, in its various forms, can be found alongside loaves of sliced white on supermarket shelves across Ireland. At its most rustic it comes as a craggy cob, its rocky surface and rough texture a result of the bicarbonate of soda added to the dough in place of yeast.
Our soda bread recipe adds buttermilk and oats to the mix, and we also created a sweet soda bread version with mixed spice and dried fruits. Common in Ireland but rare elsewhere are soda farls, where the dough is flattened into a circle and divided into four triangular ‘farl’ segments. Soda farls have a smooth surface and texture not dissimilar to English muffins.
The basic components of an Irish stew are a lamb or mutton base with added carrots, onion and potatoes. Our Irish stew recipe also contains pearl barley and bacon, although these additions are entirely optional. Keep flavourings fairly minimal – fresh, hard herbs such as rosemary, thyme and bay, good quality meat stock and lots of pepper. If you want a triple hit of carbohydrate, add dumplings too.
Acres of rural land make for some excellent farmhouse cheeses. Some of the more widely available variations include strong cashel blue and hard, cheddar-like dubliner. We like St Gall – similar to mountain cheeses, like Swiss Gruyère, it is nutty, velvety and great to cook with. Try it in a dauphinoise-style potato bake with parsnips, onions and rich double cream (pictured here).
It’s worth seeking out smaller cider producers, some of whom have been in operation for more than 100 years. This coddled pork dish is ideal for showcasing Irish cider of any kind – it’s best served with a generous portion of colcannon or champ. Discover more ways to cook with cider.
The Irish excel in the field of mashed potato, and there are two well-known versions ideal for serving as a side dish. Champ is made from spring onions and butter, while meatier colcannon has cabbage and bacon folded into the fluffy pillow of potatoes. Try our deluxe ham hock colcannon, topped with a brunch-friendly fried egg.
Round off your St Patrick’s Day menu with this lightly-spiced tart with apple filling, a dash of Irish single malt and inventive ‘savoury’ sugar, made from salt and lemon. It was created by one of Ireland’s most famous chefs, Richard Corrigan – the ultimate badge of authenticity.
Complete your St Patrick’s Day celebrations with an indulgently boozy chocolate pudding. Oozing with stout-laced dark chocolate, these pots might look like the work of a professional baker, but they only require five simple ingredients. Top with a spoonful of clotted or whipped cream, or treat yourself further to some homemade ice cream for that perfect combination of hot and cold.
For the morning after: boxty brunch
Continue the party with a hangover-busting breakfast of Irish boxty. These potato rostis are a little like hash browns, making them ideal morning-after fodder. Serve with a nutritious stem of grilled vine tomatoes, protein-packed eggs and soothing bacon.
Discover more Irish recipes in our St Patrick’s Day collection. We’d love to hear how you celebrate Ireland on 17 March – share your recipe ideas and party tips in the comments below.