Saturdays are typically one of the busiest days of the week for restaurants, and they’re likely to be a whole lot busier this weekend. About 38 million Americans are expected to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day sipping green beer — and sometimes something stronger — and soaking it up with corned beef and cabbage and other Irish-themed fare at bars and restaurants, according to research from the National Retail Federation.
Big chains and tiny hole-in-the wall pubs alike will deck themselves out in green, display the traditional leprechauns and shamrocks, and serve up dishes and drinks created especially for the one day each year when we celebrate all things Irish.
Of course, many of us celebrate certain Irish things more than others — namely beer and whiskey.
Guinness estimates that bartenders around the world will pour about 13 million pints of its signature stout on Saturday. For beer lovers looking to celebrate with something different, though, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers a list of lesser-known dark and red brews.
The Orange County Register’s Timothy Mangan took one for the team when he volunteered to taste test the four most popular Irish whiskeys (spelled with an “e”, he notes, as opposed to the Scottish “whisky”) The result is a fun slideshow filled with nuggets of research on the origins of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day spirit.
Some get quirkier to stand out from the crowd
Sun Sentinel food writer Ben Crandell has plenty of fodder for his creative column on the festivities planned in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area this weekend, from ladies cabbage wrestling at Tobacco Road to Asia fusion eatery Union, which becomes McUnion’s for a day and will offer a menu of corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie… and bowls of Lucky Charms.
One chain has gone so far as to temporarily change its name, at least on its social media pages. Arby’s has renamed itself O’rb’s to promote the holiday and its two-for-one Reuben sandwich special, QSRWeb reported.
Other chains are sticking to smaller, more tried-and-true promotions. IHOP‘s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast special includes green eggs — with sausage or bacon, but no ham; Dunkin’ Donuts has once again created special doughnuts to mark the occasion; and Burger King‘s giving away free fries — should we call them chips? — with green ketchup.
Some independent eateries around the country are taking a team approach, including nine restaurants in Granville, Ohio, that teamed up to organize a pub crawl and poker run. Each restaurant will hand out playing cards to patrons who stop in to drink or dine and there will be prizes for the best hands, the Newark Advocate reports.
Finally, what’s green and packs a punch without a drop of Irish?
Country star Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill restaurants will serve a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail called Swamp Water made with Wild Shot Mescal from 10-year-old green agave plants, the website Great American Country reports.
What’s the most unusual St. Patrick’s Day promotion you’ve seen? Tell us in the comments.
Image credit: Pichunter, via iStockphoto