A Proper Toast to Patron Saint Patrick

Each year March 17th marks a celebration affectionately known as St. Patrick’s Day! And, just like any other holiday, I like to know just a little bit of history about what we are toasting–and why. There is a long, dreary story to be told all about this special saint. However, let me provide you the shorter version. Patrick had a very sad upbringing. He was actually born in Britain and kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland. He learned the language and later became a priest with a mission to minister to the Irish and convert them to Christianity. He was beloved and died, it is believed, on March 17, 460 A.D. This, then, became the day of feast and celebration in his honor.

Over the years I have found a few special spots to enjoy authentic St. Patrick’s Day beverages that one might find if visiting Ireland. So, here is the mini-tour so you too can enjoy the “spirit of the holiday” right here in Newport Beach.

Stag Bar + Kitchen dates back to 1908 here on the Balboa Peninsula. It is located at McFadden Square, just steps from the Newport Pier. Inside are two super long ornate wooden bars, and, if you look up at the pictures from the early 1900s, you will recognize that it is all still here–right down to the gun rack and two stag heads mounted on the wall. The bar carries more than 75 brands of whiskey, including many small-batch craft varieties. With the widest selection of whiskey on the Peninsula, there is bound to be something to enjoy. One of my favorite drinks is the Stag Bar Old Fashioned. It is made with James E. Pepper Rye Whiskey, a smidge of sugar and a dash of R&D Cherry Apple Bitters. The whiskey has notes of toffee, chocolate, oak and vanilla, so what’s not to love?!

Malarky’s Irish Pub, also on the Peninsula and dating back to 1977, is a local spot with a friendly vibe. Good luck finding a spot at the bar on Sunday mornings, as they are famous for their breakfast meals and sandwiches. They have 46 different whiskeys–from Single Malt Scotch to Irish Whiskey and American Bourbon & Rye. Numerous beers are on tap, and, of course, Guinness and Smithwick’s Irish Ale are found here. They also have Harp Lager in the bottle (one of my favorites). A popular drink here during the St. Pat festivities is their Scotch Mule. It is made with a shot of 10-year aged Talisker Whiskey (the distillery was founded in 1830 on the Isle of Skye), a squeeze of lemon and lime and a splash of Ginger Beer. It is served in a copper mug, of course!

Across the street from Fashion Island you can find another Irish pub. Established in 1974, Muldoon’s Irish Pub is a hideaway that offers music on most weekend afternoons with plenty of space to spread out. They have a large function room for parties, a lovely tree-shaded patio, a dining room, and a bar with tables and darts, just to keep the conversation interesting. Here they are famous for their Irish Coffee. The bartender shared the recipe with me, so here it is…one shot of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, half a shot of Dark Creme de Cocoa, fresh brewed coffee, powdered sugar rim and house-made extra thick whipped cream. On tap they have Guinness Stout, Harp Lager and Smithwick’s Ale, along with others. They also do beer flights, which can be fun. Muldoon’s has 36 different whiskeys at the bar, from Irish to Single Malts, offering a nice selection from which to choose.

So, there you have it…lots of choices. However, consider doing what I do. Enjoy all of the above–but just not on the 17th of March. Any other day will do just fine! Cheers to our beloved St. Patrick!