This St Patrick’s Day, you could hole up in one of London’s best Irish pubs with scores of other drunken, green-hatted revellers spilling too-hastily poured pints of the black stuff all over the place. But there are other ways to celebrate – if you’re so inclined.
At Reverend JW Simpson, as part of the bar’s Spirited Sermons series of drinks masterclasses, they’re dedicating the evening of March 17 to the once-banned Irish spirit poitín (pronounced poe-CHEEN). Drinks expert Charlie McCarthy will get you up to date on the back story to this high-proof knockout, which was legalised as recently as in 1997 after more than 400 years as a liquid outlaw. There will be plenty of opportunity to taste the illicit spirit, and to incorporate it into modern cocktails.
If you like your St Patrick’s Day a little more on the rowdy side, you can still sample poitín outside the confines of the classroom. Good-looking Bethnal Green pub The Sun Tavern offers the UK’s largest selection of poitín, plus dozens of Irish whiskies to boot. For St Patrick’s Day, they’re hosting a Guinness-free party, featuring three poitín- and whiskey-laced cocktails (called One Irishman, Two Irishmen and Three Irishmen), plus free Irish stew for all. They’ll also be serving an Irish version of student favourite turbo shandy, called Irish Boiler Maker, a half pint doctored with a shot of poitín.
A word of warning, for all of you who have to make it to the office the following day: with poitín on the menu, it’s going to be some hangover. A good supply of ibuprofen is advisable.
Take a look at London’s best Irish pubs.
By Nicola Arencibia