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Ben McFarland looks at how to make St Patrick's Day festivities go with a bang.You've got to feel a little sorry for the other saints at this time of...

Ben McFarland looks at how to make St Patrick's Day festivities go with a bang.

You've got to feel a little sorry for the other saints at this time of year. David, George and Andrew must be as green as a leprechaun's waistcoat when they see the gigantic knees-up staged every year in the name of St Patrick.

With more craic than the San Andreas Fault, St Patrick's Day has established itself as a key money-making date on the licensees' calendar - and all for just chasing a few snakes down a hill and generally being helpful.

Thanks to it being a leap year, St Patrick's Day has bunny-hopped Tuesday to fall on a Wednesday this time round. But don't let a midweek slot be a deterrent to festivities as St Patrick's Day is an occasion still well worth celebrating.

To help you coax potential punters away from the grasp of the all-powerful sofa on a school night, The Publican has dusted down its fiddle, rummaged around in the branches of its family tree in a desperate attempt to find someone vaguely Irish and, er, grown a big ginger beard.

Here are some ideas designed to add some Paddy power to your elbow on March 17.

It's nowt without stout

It will come as no surprise to hear that March 17 is Guinness's biggest day of the year with celebrations taking place around the globe.

The money men at Diageo UK, however, will be rubbing their hands with extra glee as this year St Patrick's coincides with not only a new £6m advertising campaign but also the hugely lucrative Cheltenham Festival where copious amounts of Guinness are consumed while watching the gee-gees.

So what ingenious ideas have the marketing boys from the black stuff got planned this year? Hats. That's it? Well, pretty much, if you don't count a novelty harmonica and some rather fancy point-of-sale.

"We've come up with a lot of new ideas for St Patrick's but research with consumer groups has revealed that people just love wearing the hats," said Paul Clarke, brand manager for Guinness. "It seems to make St Patrick's and who are we to argue?"

Murphy's, meanwhile, seems to have accepted that it's destined to play second fiddle with regards to St Patrick's Day.

Out has gone the high-profile sponsorship of London's St Patrick's Day parade and in has come... wait for it... scratchcards.

More than 300 outlets will be target with the scratchcards offering a one in 12 chance of instantly winning a Murphy's T-shirt or, yes you've guessed it, a hat.

Irish brews

To assume that all the Irish brewing industry has to offer comes in black and white would be a heinous oversight.

Today there's a mini boom in Irish beers with the number of microbrewers in Ireland touching double figures - and it's not just stout that they're producing, either.

One of the most well-known is the Carlow Brewing Company, 20 miles south of Dublin. Its brews include Curim Gold, a celtic wheat beer, and Molings, a traditional Irish red ale.

Purehead Wines in Kent and the Crouch Vale Brewery both act as UK distributors - contact www.pureheadwines.co.uk or 020 8320 4467.

For the hardcore St Patrick's party animal there's always Magners, Ireland's number one cider with 94 per cent of the on-trade market.

It is traditionally served over ice from a pint bottle and, having achieved wide distribution in Scotland, it has set its sights on pubs and bars further south.

Get in the spirit

For licensees looking for a spirit with which customers can chase the pint of Guinness, Irish whiskeys have been the natural choice.

However, there's room on the back-bar for more than Jameson's or Black Bush. Firstly, there's Boru Vodka, the second largest premium vodka in the Irish market and currently available in two flavour extensions - citrus and orange.

For the more adventurous, there's the infamous Poitín - pronounced potcheen - a spirit that is unlikely to make you feel particularly top in the morning. This Irish moonshine has recently been legalised after being outlawed for over 250 years and is imported from Dundalk, where it is distilled under strict control as it is still illegal in Ireland.

It's a clear strong spirit with a distinctive dry grainy flavour and an ABV of 50 per cent. For St Patrick's Day Poitín 50 is being promoted as a shot or in the St Patrick's Day "Irish cocktail" the Pot Black - quite simply a shot of Poitín in your favourite Irish stout such as Guinness or Murphy's.

Poitín 50 is supporting its St Patrick's celebrations with a range of free table-talkers and cocktail methodology guides which are ideally suited to bars and pubs who want to go a little further on March 17.

Boru Vodka cocktail: St Patrick's Punch

  • one shot of Boru
  • 75ml orange juice
  • 75ml pineapple juice

Method: Build ingredients in a highball glass

Poitín 50 cocktail: Paddy's Pimms

  • 25ml Poitín 50
  • dash of lime
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 25ml sugar syrup

Method: Top up with soda in a highball glass.

Related topics: Soft & Hot Drinks

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