By Mark Plumlee
Everyone’s a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, which means that it’s the perfect time to create a specialty holiday menu inspired by the Emerald Isle!
Irish beer and whiskey are a great start but don’t stop there. Be sure to add plenty of Irish and Irish-inspired dishes to round out your menu and help your customers celebrate in style, whether they’re on a date night, celebrating with friends, or out for some family fun. Need some inspiration? Keep reading for St. Patrick’s Day menu ideas that will have your competition feeling shamrock-green with envy:
Sure, you could follow the lead of many bar-restaurant chains and offer green beer. Or just keep it simple and offer a selection of Irish beers on your bar menu.
Guinness, of course, is a St. Patrick’s Day classic. The dry stout beer is also a massive seller; an average of 13 million pints are served on St. Patrick’s Day each year. Not only is this singular dark beer a symbol of Irish identity, but it also pairs well with several of the traditional dishes on this list.
Of course, not everyone’s into dark beer. Luckily, there are plenty of other Irish beers to add to your menu, such as red ale, Irish lager, or Irish cream ale.
Want to increase beer sales? Consider adding beer specials such as the “Irish Slammer” to your menu. In case you’re not familiar with this, it’s a showy drink special that involves dropping a shot of Irish cream and Irish whiskey into a glass of Irish stout. It’s a relatively easy upsell that can impress your guests and have a big impact on your sales.
St. Patrick’s Day is the fourth-most-popular drinking day of the year in the U.S. (behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and the Fourth of July). Make sure your cocktail list is ready and advertise your offerings in advance with St. Patrick’s Day flyers so customers can plan ahead!
While classics like Irish Coffee or Baileys Irish Cream are always a hit, you can also get creative with your St. Patrick’s Day offerings. For instance, you could get creative and offer something unique like the Watermark Bar, featuring Irish margaritas made with Jameson, triple sec, and lime. Or, you could create a slew of zany green cocktails to brighten up your bar for the big day and get your customers in a celebratory state of mind.
Irish soda bread is a rich, buttery bread that’s studded with raisins. It’s slightly sweet, but not so sweet that it can’t be served along savoury dishes. It’s a great addition to the menu, with all-day potential.
Offering a St. Patrick’s Day brunch? Irish soda bread can serve as a stand-alone pastry, as the base for soda bread French toast, or as a side with a full Irish breakfast.
During other times of day, soda bread makes for a festive addition to bread baskets, or as a tasty side with leek soup.
Got leftovers? Try your hand at Irish soda bread pudding as a dessert offering.
Corned beef and cabbage
Did you know that cabbage sales surge by as much as 70 per cent during the week of St. Patrick’s Day? The traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish, which involves slow-cooking corned beef, cabbage, and other vegetables and aromatics, makes for a hearty stew that wards off even the fiercest winter chills.
While you can’t go wrong with a classic recipe, there are also ways to mix it up. For instance, you could make gnocchi with corned beef and cabbage, or try your hand at corned beef and cabbage pizza.
This dish may not be traditional, but it’s a whole lot of fun!
So-called “Irish nachos” involve swapping out the traditional tortilla chips for crispy potatoes, which are then topped with any number of ingredients like cheese, sour cream, veggies, salsa, and bacon. Plus, it’s great for sharing and it pairs well with beer, which could increase your bar sales!
Don’t forget dessert. Soda bread pudding was mentioned above, but there are plenty of other delicious ways to round out your St. Patrick’s Day dessert menu.
One popular way to “Irish” up your dessert course? Just add Guinness. Beer in dessert might sound odd, but the rich, malty flavour of Guinness actually works beautifully with chocolate desserts. Try out a recipe for Guinness brownies or Guinness-infused cupcakes topped with Baileys buttercream and see for yourself!
Another approach? Choose a traditional Irish dessert recipe like an apple tart, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try something off-the-wall like Irish moss pudding or your own version of the famed shamrock shake for dessert.
Your restaurant may not be able to offer a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but you can provide a destination-worthy St. Patrick’s Day menu. Diners love a themed menu, so creating a menu full of festive Irish-inspired dishes and drinks is bound to be a magnet for customers who want to celebrate — whether they’re actually of Irish descent or just Irish for the day!
Mark Plumlee is the Sr. Editor for MustHaveMenus, a DIY design and digital marketing service for restaurants, and has written for CRFN and many foodservice publications on food industry trends and technology.