17 Green Cocktails And Mocktails For Your St. Patrick's Day Festivities
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It's no secret that St. Patrick's Day isn't a big food holiday. Okay, green cookies and cupcakes are fun and all, but any holiday where the main dish is corned beef with boiled cabbage has a ways to go to beat out turkey and all the trimmings, or even roast lamb and marshmallow Peeps. It definitely ranks right up there in the pantheon of annual boozefests, though, with Drinking in America ranking it as the No. 2 holiday for adult beverage consumption, right behind New Year's Eve. And this is despite the fact that St. Patrick's Day is neither an official day-off-work-type holiday, nor does it have the decency to occur only on a weekend!
If there's an official drink of St. Patrick's Day — meaning the American celebration, not the somewhat more subdued version that may take place in Ireland — it would probably be green beer, a beverage that's been around for over a century. Traditionalists may prefer a pint of Guinness or Harp, or perhaps an Irish coffee, but if you want to celebrate the holiday in a playful, colorful way, may we suggest a tasty green cocktail instead? And green mocktails can be just as fun, since there's no rule that forbids booze-free festivities on this or any other holiday. The fun thing about these green drinks is that you can recycle the recipes and trot them out a month later for Earth Day, as well!
One of the original cream-based drinks is the brandy Alexander, a vintage cocktail that dates back to the turn of the 20th century and was said to be a favorite of the late John Lennon. If there's anything that can be said against the brandy Alexander, besides the fact that these sugary drinks aren't exactly a low-calorie option, is that they are kind of an ugly shade of light brown. Well, that's not the case with the spinoff cocktail, called Alexander's Sister, which is a pretty shade of pastel green instead.
While the brandy Alexander is made with brandy, crème de cacao (light or dark, doesn't really matter), and cream or even ice cream, an Alexander's Sister is instead made with gin and green crème de menthe, as well as cream (or, again, ice cream). Serve it in a martini or coupe glass and, if you want to fancy it up a bit, top it with fresh mint leaves, or perhaps a squirt of whipped cream drizzled with more crème de menthe.
Remember the '90s? If you were of drinking age back then, or in the earliest years of the 2000s, then it's quite likely you may have tried an appletini once or twice. In fact, it may even have been your go-to order in the days before craft cocktail snobs insisted we all start drinking negronis and aviations instead. Well, there's no better excuse than a holiday to revive an old favorite, particularly when it fits so well into the color scheme.
There are numerous recipes out there for the appletini, some of these adding apple juice and/or apple brandy, but our favorite version — and one that's a beautiful bright green — contains the same ingredients that were in the 1996 original: vodka, sour apple schnapps, lemon (or lime) juice, and simple syrup. You'll use equal parts of the first two ingredients, plus ½ parts each of the second two, so one cocktail contains an ounce of vodka, an ounce of schnapps, and 1 tablespoon (½ ounce) each of lemon or lime juice and simple syrup. Shake the ingredients over ice, strain into a martini glass (this is supposed to be an apple "tini," after all), and garnish with thin slices of a granny smith apple, if desired. Lime slices would also work, as they fit both the flavor profile and the color scheme.
The Caruso is a cocktail that shares a name with perhaps the greatest tenor of all time. While Enrico Caruso was no Irishman — he was a native of la bella Napoli — his namesake drink is sufficiently verdant to suit any St. Patrick's Day celebration. Cocktail Book says that yes, this cocktail was created in Caruso's honor, and yet it was apparently not a favorite of the man himself. According to the opera star's wife, he mostly drank mineral water and occasionally indulged in wine, but when it came to cocktails, her husband really only cared for the Alexander.
Whether or not Caruso would have enjoyed this drink, you may like it if you're a fan of mixing bitter with sweet. It consists of equal parts gin, dry vermouth, and green crème de menthe shaken over ice and then strained into a martini glass, coupe, or other stemmed cocktail glass.
Want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in a healthy way? That's not the typical way the holiday is observed here in the U.S., but who knows, maybe you'll start a trend by serving up green drinks that get their color from green, leafy veggies instead of food coloring or green liqueurs. A green smoothie can consist of just about any combo of fruits and veggies, as long as you include plenty of kale and/or spinach, but we're particularly partial to a "greena colada" that includes the dynamic duo of coconut and pineapple.
While smoothies are pretty flexible as far as ingredient ratios go, you can start building a greena colada by pouring a cup of coconut milk into your blender, then adding a cup or two of fresh pineapple chunks, 3 cups of spinach, and some ice. If your smoothie is too thick, you can thin it out with more coconut milk or perhaps some pineapple juice. This smoothie as-is is booze-free and suitable for breakfast or sharing with kids and other abstainers. If the sun is over that proverbial yardarm (this is antique nautical-speak for "it's 5 o'clock somewhere"), you can also spike it with a shot of rum.
This ominously-named drink gets its green color from absinthe, aka the green fairy. While this liqueur still has somewhat of a risqué reputation, and in fact only recently became legal to purchase in the U.S., it turns out that it's not likely to cause hallucinations or any other side effects apart from the usual ones associated with any other type of alcohol. That being said, it was still a favorite drink of Ernest Hemingway, a man with a rather risqué reputation of his own. Death in the Afternoon is not only the name of one of Hemingway's books, but is also a drink recipe created by Papa himself.
"So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon" is a collection of cocktail recipes provided by various authors who were famous in 1935, the year of its publication. Some of these names, like Erskine Caldwell, Theodore Dreiser, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, are still familiar, while others have faded into obscurity. The first recipe in the book, however, belongs to Hemingway, and consists of just 25 well-chosen words: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly." Should you be preparing these drinks for your St. Patrick's Day party, we suggest you omit that last step, lest your own afternoon come to an untimely end. While Hemingway is an undisputedly iconic author, he may not have been much of a role model.
If you're a Shamrock Shake fan, but you've often wished that there were a boozy version, your wish has been granted — over 100 years ago, as it so happens. The minty, creamy concoction known as the grasshopper may have been created in 1918 by a bartender at Tujague's Restaurant in New Orleans, and despite the fact that Prohibition came roaring in with the '20s, the restaurant admits that the cocktail has held a "permanent spot" on its menu ever since its birth. Well, the statute of limitations on Volstead Act violations has long since passed, so we'll let that little legal lapse slip.
In its simplest form, the grasshopper consists of nothing more than equal parts green crème de menthe, crème de cacao (the white kind, for preference), and cream or half-and-half. You can also make a "skinny" version with milk, or a not-so-skinny one with vanilla ice cream. If you'd like a stronger grasshopper, you can add one part brandy or vodka. Should you prefer a grasshopper mocktail and you can't get a Shamrock Shake because Mickey D's ice cream machine is down again, you can try mixing a spoonful of white hot chocolate mix with a little milk or cream to make a paste, then flavoring it with a few drops of peppermint extract and adding more milk or cream and a few drops of green food coloring.
If you've ever lived in the Midwest, you may be familiar with the iconic Chicago soda known as Green River, something that has been around since 1919. As it's over a century old, Green River soda was not named after the Green River Killer, aka serial killer Gary Ridgway. Nor was it named for the Creedence Clearwater Revival song — in fact, the opposite is true, as CCR singer John Fogerty was a fan of the soda. While Gastro Obscura admits that no one really knows how Green River got its name, apart from the obvious reference to its verdant hue, it might well be a nod to Chicago's long-standing tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green every St. Patrick's Day. What, then, could be a more perfect cocktail for a Chicago-style St. Paddy's Day celebration than a Green River cooler?
To make this drink, you'll need a bottle of Green River, of course — if you're forced to use a substitute lemon-lime soda, that might change the name of the drink to the far less euphonious "Seven-Up-plus-food coloring cooler." You'll also need melon liqueur (the greener, the better) and triple sec. Get a tall glass, fill it with ice cubes, add shots of each liqueur, and fill the glass to the top with Green River.
Frozen daiquiris come in a range of rainbow hues depending on the different fruits with which they are made. The original daiquiris, both frozen and non-frozen, were lime-flavored, and lime daiquiris tend to be a rather pale green hue. For a brighter green drink, and one with a little heat, why not try a jalapeño daiquiri?
To make this daiquiri, adapted from a recipe by Tabasco, you'll be mixing 1 part rum with 4 parts of frozen limeade and 4 parts of apple juice. Sweeten the drink to taste with a little sugar if the limeade alone isn't sweet enough for you. For the jalapeño flavoring, plus some extra color, sprinkle in some Tabasco jalapeño sauce (the green kind). Put the drink in the freezer for about a half hour or so until it is slushy but not solid, then stir it up and garnish it with a jalapeño slice. If you really want a cocktail with some kick, though, you could always toss the daiquiri into the blender with a fresh jalapeño.
The kamikaze may not quite have achieved the status of classic cocktail yet, but it's certainly been around for a good long while. While the name harks back to World War II, the cocktail itself dates from the late '70s. This makes sense, since in 1946 not too many people would likely have been amused by the thought of a drink named after Japanese suicide bombers. By the disco days, however, people may have found the name less offensive.
Making a kamikaze couldn't be simpler: just mix equal parts of vodka, triple sec, and lime juice over ice and strain into a cocktail glass or even a shot glass. As you may have noticed, the basic recipe is almost like that of a margarita, only with vodka in place of the tequila, and no salty rim. In fact, if you want to play up on the sweeter flavoring found in the triple sec, you could even do a sugar-dipped rim. As to the kamikaze's coloring, if you make it with a bottled, sweetened kind of lime juice like Rose's, it'll be pretty green. If you use fresh lime juice, instead, the green will be much paler. Feel free to green up your drink with a drop or two of food coloring, if you like, since St. Patrick's Day comes but once a year.
One classic cocktail you may not be familiar with is a little something called the Last Word. The reason you're unlikely to see this popping up on the bar menu at Bennigan's or Applebee's is because one of its main ingredients — and the one that lends it its distinctive green hue — is green Chartreuse, an herbal liqueur with a flavor that's not to everyone's taste. Still, Chartreuse is made by monks, which makes it an appropriate libation for celebrating a saint's day.
In order to make the Last Word, you'll not only need to source that green Chartreuse, but you'll also need gin, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice. Mix 3 parts of the gin with 1 part of each of the other ingredients, shake over ice, then strain into a martini glass. If you want an even more St. Patrick's Day-appropriate variant on this drink, though, you can always sub out the gin with Irish whiskey for a cocktail called the Dublin Minstrel.
The lime rickey is a something that could be described as a mocktail for adults — or, not to be ageist about it, for kids who prefer something a little less sweet than your standard soda. It's basically a booze-free version of a gin (or any other type of) rickey, a drink that takes its name from 19th century lobbyist and unsweetened drink fan Joe Rickey.
To make a sugar-free rickey, fill a highball glass with ice cubes, then add a few generous squirts of lime juice and top off with club soda. Garnish with a lime slice, and you have a drink that looks just like a regular cocktail, so it's nobody's business if you choose to eschew the booze. If you do want your drink a bit sweeter, though, add simple syrup to taste. Needless to say, this drink is quite easy to un-virginize, simply by adding a shot of your booze of choice. If you want to retain any of the pale green color from the lime juice, however, you should stick to a clear liquor such as the aforementioned gin, or other options like vodka, white rum, and silver tequila.
When you think of melon liqueur, there's probably one name that immediately comes to mind: Midori. It's a Japanese product that dates back to 1964, although this liqueur didn't make it to the U.S. market until 1978. At that time, Midori underwent a name change, ditching their previous moniker of Hermes for a name that means "green" in Japanese.
For the past 40+ years, Midori has been lending its bright green color and fruity flavor to any number of cocktails, but one of our favorites is the Midori sour. There is no one standard recipe for this drink, but we tend to favor one made with 1 part lemon juice, 1 part lime juice, 2 parts vodka (optional, if you prefer a low ABV drink), and 3 parts Midori. Pour these ingredients into an ice-filled tall glass, then fill to the top with club soda. If you like a sweeter drink, you can also use lemon-lime soda — the greener the soda, the greener your drink will be.
While St. Patrick's Day parties are notorious for being big boozefests, if you're hosting such a party, you — and your home insurer — might want to impose a few limits. Sure, you don't want to be a party pooper, but you can always employ a little Rutherford B. Hayes-ian subterfuge by serving up drinks where the level of alcohol is fairly low. One way of doing this is by making wine cocktails, as an ounce of wine typically packs a lot less punch than an ounce of whiskey. While the classic wine cocktail is a simple spritzer, an even better way of disguising the fact that your party punch has none of the hard stuff in it is to make up a batch of these tasty green pistachio cocktails.
This pistachio wine cocktail was adapted from a recipe by Sutter Home, and calls for using a dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc or chardonnay. Mix 3 ounces of the wine with a small box (3.14 ounces) of pistachio pudding mix and 2 cups of coconut milk. Shake over ice, taste, and if the drink is not sweet enough, add a little simple syrup to taste. Strain the mixture into 4 martini or coupe glasses, garnish as desired — perhaps with some fresh fruit or a sprinkling of chopped pistachios — and serve up these delicious, yet barely boozy, beverages.
While there are numerous neon-green cocktails called the shamrock this, that, and the other thing popping up on bar menus starting the first week of March, there's one drink that goes simply by the name of shamrock. We've been unable to dig up any real history on this one, other than that it featured in the 1978 "Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender's Guide." Mr. Boston, after all, make a line of liqueurs, and this drink gets its coloring and minty-fresh flavor from green crème de menthe.
In addition to crème de menthe, the standard shamrock recipe calls for nothing more than Irish whiskey (naturally) plus some dry vermouth, so the drink is somewhat like a minty Manhattan. There are variants, however, that call for the addition of green Chartreuse, an ingredient that doubles down on the drink's shamrock color but adds a, shall we say, unusual flavor note of its own that may pair oddly with the crème de menthe. To make this drink, mix 3 parts whiskey with 1 part vermouth, then add anywhere from a splash to 1 part of crème de menthe, depending on how much mint flavor you'd like your drink to have. If you're using Chartreuse, you may wish to stick to 1 part (or less) of this herbal liqueur. Stir everything together over ice, then strain into a martini glass.
If you like the idea of an Irish whiskey-based St. Patrick's Day cocktail named for the saint's signature plant, but you're not all that into vermouth, you may prefer a tasty shamrock sour. Before we get to the recipe, though, we're going to digress for just a moment — why are shamrocks de rigueur for this holiday? Did Ireland's patron saint have a particular affinity for them? According to Veggie Tales (and other sources), he's said to have used this 3-leafed bit of greenery to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. As this story first started circulating more than 1,000 years after the saint had passed on to his heavenly reward, it's likely just a folktale.
Do you now have the VeggieTales theme song stuck in your head? Nothing takes care of an earworm like a little cocktail mixing, so let's start shaking up some shamrock sours. To make this drink, combine 1 part lime juice with 2 parts whiskey and simple syrup to taste, along with a drop or two of green food coloring to enhance that pale lime color — any drink that's named after the shamrock needs to be pretty emerald-hued, after all. Shake the ingredients over ice and strain them into a coupe or martini glass. You can garnish this drink with a few fresh mint leaves, if you like, as they'll add an extra touch of green.
While many of the drinks on this list are old standbys, there's one au courant cocktail ingredient that's very verdant, indeed: fresh basil. While basil doesn't appear too often on the ingredient lists for older cocktails, by the late 2010s, googling the phrase "basil cocktails" was sure to result in a few bazillion hits, and they're still just as popular in the 2020s (so far). One of our favorite basil-based drinks is the Asian-inspired Thai basil mojito, a drink that also gets some of its flavor from lemongrass.
For this drink, you'll need Thai basil as well as some lemongrass syrup. The latter ingredient is commercially available, but you can make your own by simmering a couple of bruised, chopped lemongrass stalks in a cup of water along with ¼ cup sugar. For each cocktail, muddle a few sprigs of basil in a cocktails shaker with the juice from half a lime. Cut the squeezed lime half in half again, and drop it into the shaker for some muddling. Add a jigger (1 ½ ounces) of white rum to the shaker along with ½ ounce of lemongrass syrup and a handful of ice. Shake, then strain into a tall glass of crushed ice. Top up the glass with club soda and garnish the drink with some extra basil.
While we're often warned against the perils of multitasking — Don't brush your teeth while operating a forklift! Never walk the dog while baking a soufflé! — the term isn't always a pejorative one. We're quite fond of a good multitasking recipe, like an omelet that works just as well for breakfast as it does for lunch. In that spirit, why not consider repurposing a certain bright green Halloween drink for your St. Patrick's Day party? Instead of calling it witches' brew, you could always rename it Paddy's punch, instead.
While there are as many versions of witches' brew as there are party bloggers, one fairly simple one calls for mixing a 3-ounce box of lime-flavored Jell-O (it's got to be lime for the color) with a cup of boiling water, then stirring in a cup and a half of pineapple juice. Let the mixture cool down, then add 4 cups (about 1 liter) of lemon-lime soda. You can leave this drink as-is to use as an all-ages punch, or make it a boozy brew by spiking it with ½ cup to 1 cup of white rum or vodka.