How To Spice Up Your St. Patrick's Day Cocktails, According To A Bar Owner

Sláinte! If you're toasting on St. Patty's day, why not spice up your pint glass a little with this savory cocktail?  Irish-born bartender and bar owner Ryan O'Connor of Birmingham, Alabama, created his own new twist on a holiday beverage dubbed the "Irish Mary." O'Connor combines aspects of a classic Bloody Mary with traditional Irish alcohols, including Tullamore Dew whiskey, and Guinness to create this cultural collaboration inspired by his favorite Bloody Mary Mix from Zing Zang.

Fun fact: Spiced tomato juice and vodka are not the only traditional mixes for this drink. As shared by VinePair, bartenders have been trying different combinations and liquors from cognac to Aquavit, and a "tequila Bloody Mary" even has its own name; it's called a Bloody Maria.

When asked about the inspiration for his unique take on a popular cocktail, O'Connor revealed how nostalgia played a role in its creation. "My dad was an Irish musician and he traveled the US playing in Irish pubs, so I spent a lot of time in American Irish bars, and the one thing you always see in those pubs is a bloody!" he said. "It's the quintessential cocktail in Irish bars. So I've always had a penchant for Bloody Mary's, and for St. Patrick's Day I thought it would be fun to create an Irish take on it."

Ryan O'Connor's Irish Mary

Patrons in Birmingham, Alabama, can get the original St. Patty's cocktail at Neon Moon, described as a "five-star dive bar," and soon at the almost-open Continental Drift cocktail bar — or you can make your own at home. O'Connor uses a premade Bloody Mary mix from Zing Zang and spices the works up with an additional round of seasoning, including curry powder, Tabasco or Scrappy's Firewater, pub sauce, and mustard, plus a dash of lemon. Add your favorite Irish whiskey and top with a float of Guinness. While the bar version of this drink is elevated, O'Connor describes his process as scaled for home or business, building on a premade mix: "As a bartender, when I'm making drinks at the bar, I like to use mixes as a base and then add ingredients to it, experimenting with different flavors. But at home, my advice is to keep it simple, no need to add much to it."

Next come the garnishes, which really elevate this recipe: pickled vegetables in the green, orange, and white of the Irish flag. If snacking and drinking simultaneously, O'Connor has some suggestions. The bartender notes his creation "pairs perfectly with a full Irish breakfast — some eggs, bangers, grilled tomato, mushrooms, baked beans, toast. And also can't go wrong too with a traditional Irish Colcannon."

And if you wonder what Ryan O'Connor will be drinking himself this holiday: "I've always been a massive fan of the Irish Coffee. I'll be drinking both — the Zing Zang Irish Mary and an Irish Coffee — on St. Paddy's Day!"