Outside of a best man nervously reading from a note card during a wedding reception, bars on St. Patrick’s Day may be the epicenter of toasts to good health and continued friendship. Others aim to simply celebrate the traditions of the holiday, like this time-honored expression: “The Scots have their whisky, the Welsh have their tongue, but the Irish have Paddy, who’s second to none!”
But what’s the perfect St. Patrick’s Day toast, and what’s the preferred beverage to hoist while the words are spoken? Local bartenders and bar managers, preparing for scores of green-clad revelers to flood their Irish pubs and restaurants on March 17, revealed their choices.
Manager, Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub
713 King St.
<bt>The Beverage: A pint of Guinness. “In my estimation, a Guinness is a quintessential Irish Drink,” said Sumner, “whether you’re talking about a beer or a mixed drink.” But he said some popular drinks that include a cold, dark Guinness — like the “Irish Car Bomb,” which includes a shot of Irish whiskey — aren’t exactly what could be called traditional. “That’s an American thing,” he said.
Murphy’s frequently draws some Irish natives for whom Guinness is a standard. Sumner said they can be quite particular about what’s filling their glass. “Most of them won’t take a pint if it has bubbles in it,” he said.
The Toast: Sumner offered what has become the official “Guinness Toast” for events involving the brew:
“To the Great Guinness Toast and a pint raised high,
And to a bevy of friends by my side,
To health and happiness and fun galore,
And to the bartender who will pour me one more.”
Bartender, Pat Troy’s Ireland’s Own
111 N. Pitt St.
<bt>The Beverage: Dorazio immediately mentioned a pint of Guinness as the perfect toasting beverage. “It’s symbolic,” he said, before adding that he’s most likely to pour a pint of Guinness mixed with Harp, a lager. The result is the popular “black and tan” that features the stout flavor of the dark beer with the crisp taste of the lighter one. It’s basically a Guinness that won’t leave you feeling like you’ve got all of Dublin in your stomach at the end of the evening.
The Toast: Dorazio prefers a heartfelt wish for good fortune:
“May your troubles be less,
And your blessings be more,
And nothing but happiness come through your door.”
Manager, Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant & Bar
112 King St.
<bt>The Beverage: McGrath, putting the finishing touches on one of several dark-wooden bars in the cavernous new pub on King Street, also voiced support for a glass of Guinness. “It’s the perfect pint, and the perfect symbol of Ireland,” said McGrath, a native of Dublin. “Guinness is Ireland.”
The Toast: McGrath said pre-prepared toasts don’t typically factor in when you’re in the moment at a pub on St. Patrick’s Day. “People always blab out something,” he said. The O’Connell’s manager said he prefers a short, meaningful tribute: “Slainte,” a Gaelic word that translates to “cheers.”
Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Restaurant Eve
110 South Pitt St.
<bt>The Beverage: “Eamonn’s Cocktail.” The drink, served in a martini glass, is a named for Armstrong’s son and is a variation of a whiskey drink called an “Irish Rickey.” Red lemonade and Irish whiskey — the bar at Eve’s prefers Powers to Jameson’s — are combined in a shaker with Yuzu juice, from a Japanese citrus fruit. Shaken together and then stirred, the mix is poured into a glass with a gelatin version of Yuzu suspended over the drink on a stirrer so it just dips into the cocktail. “It’s one of the few cocktails made with Irish whiskey that the ladies can enjoy, and it’s a little more festive than a pint of Guinness.”
So why does Armstrong, a native of Dublin, prefer an exotic drink like this to the traditional pint of dark beer? “Guinness is cliché at this point,” he said, “and it’s owned by a British company, you know?”
The Toast: Armstrong’s suggested toast with a nod to the traditions of the holiday: “May you share in the hearts and the passions of the Irish.”