by Erika Miller
With March 17 right around the corner, Gut Check's thoughts turn to pub food, leprechauns and all things green. St. Patrick's Day is a festive occasion in St. Louis, with revelers flocking to celebrate in Dogtown and area pubs. And like most holidays, one of the best parts of the day is having an excuse to enjoy a pint (or many pints) of Guinness.
Pints of the popular stout and tumblers of whiskey are Irish staples, so it's no surprise that most other Irish drinks feature one or both ingredients. To prepare you for a day of imbibing on St. Patty's Day, Gut Check has compiled a list of five Irish drinks that are sure to put a
pep jig in your step.
Magners Cider Cider might be seen as a "lightweight drink," but in Ireland, everyone enjoys the crisp, clean taste of Magners. Sold under the name "Bulmers" in Ireland, this cider dominates the Irish market and can be found bottled or on tap at several St. Louis pubs, including The Dubliner (1025 Washington Avenue, 314-421-4300), Molly Darcys (26 North Meramec Avenue, 314-863-8400) and O'Malleys Irish Pub (1900 Cherokee Street, 314-762-9308). Magners has just enough apple flavor to provide some sweetness without tasting too sugary, and is a welcome change from heavy beer and too-tart cocktails.
Irish Coffee Anyone can make coffee "Irish" by adding a shot of whiskey or Bailey's, but traditional Irish coffee is a carefully crafted beverage. A cousin of the hot toddy, true Irish coffee is a mixture of hot coffee, Irish whiskey and brown sugar, topped with heavy cream. For an authentic version, head to Tigin Irish Pub (333 Washington Avenue, 314-241-8666), where Irish coffee is topped with real cream and swirls of cinnamon.
Big Ginger Of all the cocktails made with Jameson Irish whiskey, the Big Ginger might be the only one at the center of a lawsuit. A concoction of Jameson, ginger ale and citrus wedges, the Big Ginger was the center of a trademark dispute between the makers of Jameson and a Minnesota-based whiskey importing company. Lawsuit aside, we like the Big Ginger at Molly Darcys for its fizzy, citrusy kick.
Irish Whiskey Whether you choose Bushmills, Tullamore Dew, Jameson or another maker, whiskey is so important in Ireland it's regulated by a national Whiskey Act. Fine (read: expensive) Irish whiskey needs no accouterments, while lesser varieties taste better mixed into a hot toddy or with something sweet to cut through the bite. Many area restaurants have expansive whiskey menus, but The Scottish Arms (8 South Sarah Street, 314-535-0551) boasts the largest whiskey selection in St. Louis, with several Irish varieties on hand.
Guinness We'd be ashamed of ourselves if we made a list of essential Irish drinks without including the stout that hails from St. James's Gate in Dublin. The crap sold in bottles and cans is nothing compared to the smooth, creamy stout that comes from the tap. If you're going to enjoy a Guinness, make sure to get it on a tap at a place such as McGurk's Irish Pub & Garden (1200 Russell Boulevard, 314-776-8309) that knows how to pour it correctly --- with a thick inch of foam decorated with a shamrock on top. Or if you're looking to get wild on St. Patty's Day, order an Irish car bomb --- a shot of whiskey and Irish cream dropped into a half pint of Guinness.