Better Life

St. Paddy’s Day

St Pattys Day Featured
St. Patrick may have driven the snakes out of Ireland, but his dipso disciples long ago drove me to drink inside my home on his Feast Day.

Jack was someone I knew in high school, and when he approached me at Charley O’s crowded bar in midtown Manhattan, I was glad to see him—until I realized he was a drink or two away from being totally blotted. Jack insisted on buying a round, and against my better judgment, I accepted. Pretty soon, a bunch of guys in green plastic derbies started singing a woozy version of Danny Boy. Jack joined in, and as he was trying mightily to hit one of the song’s high notes, he threw up a few inches from my shoes.

I can’t quite recall the exact year when Jack hurled in that now-gone saloon —sometime in the early ‘80s, for sure—but perhaps you’ve guessed the day it happened. Yep, St. Patrick’s Day. March 17 on your calendar. Thanks to Jack, and thousands of other men and women, both young and old, who perennially lose their senses and their lunch on this night, I no longer celebrate the wearing of the green in a public place.

To wit, St. Paddy’s Day is for amateurs.

St. Patrick may have driven the snakes out of Ireland, but his dipso disciples long ago drove me to drink inside my home on his Feast Day. I wholeheartedly recommend that you do what I do. Stay home, and enjoy your adult beverage of choice with someone you love or with a few good friends. While you’re at it, watch a flick or two. And in keeping with the spirit of the evening, why not choose a movie for its alcohol content, like The Big Lebowski, the cult classic in which the Dude (Jeff Bridges) abides a procession of generously poured White Russians.

If Lebowski doesn’t bowl you over, here’s a tip: Get yourself a copy of the recently published Cocktails of the Movies: An Illustrated Guide to Cinematic Mixology by Will Francis and Stacey Marsh. This stylish compendium features 64 cocktails that are consumed in 64 movies, along with recipes and brief synopses of each cocktail’s origins and the scene in which it, uh, stars: from the Manhattan that Marilyn Monroe swigs from a paper cup in Some Like It Hot and the Orange Whip that John Candy orders in The Blues Brothers to the fruity Aqua Velva that Jake Gyllenhaal favors in Zodiac and the Dirty Martini that Scarlett Johansson mixes for Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2.

In Crazy, Stupid, Love, Ryan Gosling’s go-to drink is the Old Fashioned, which also happens to be my own favorite cocktail. A slight variation of this amber beauty is widely regarded by mixology mavens as the first American cocktail, its pedigree having been traced to the very early 1800s. The Old Fashioned, you may recall, was also the preferred drink of Mad Men’s dashing Don Draper, and the AMC series deserves some credit for reviving the cocktail’s popularity.

But I digress. Playing a pick-up artist in Crazy, Stupid, Love, Gosling woos Emma Stone’s young lawyer to his cool LA pad, and then he swings into action. With the camera in tight on the glass, he expertly fixes her an Old Fashioned—sugar cube, bitters, one large ice cube, whiskey (hard to tell if he’s using bourbon or rye), and a thick orange peel (a maraschino or brandied cherry is optional). Stone nervously chugs her cocktail. Sadly, she doesn’t know any better. An Old Fashioned rewards contemplative consumption. Sip it, and allow it to please the palate.

This St. Paddy’s Day, for a change of pace, I intend to kick off the evening by trying my hand at making a French 75, the libation that’s served up at Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca. Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and champagne in a coupe glass with a twist. Add Bogie and Bergman on the flat screen, and anyone who has a heart couldn’t ask for anything more.