Come St. Patrick’s Day, year after year, bars and restaurants across the country pour out countless pints of green beer to serve to drunken revelers. In fact, data from restaurant management platform Upserve show that St. Patrick’s Day historically contributes to some of the year’s highest beer sales. That’s all well and good (turns out that, year after year, there’s a strangely huge market for pitchers of toxic-looking green suds), but we decided to check in with some restaurants that have found more creative ways to bring in customers this St. Paddy’s. From naturally green beer to innovative takes on St. Paddy’s-inspired fare, these eateries are monetizing the holiday to make some serious green.
Krause’s Cafe & Biergarten, a biergarten in New Braunfels, Texas, is better known for bratwurst than bangers and mash, so they’re celebrating the holiday with a naturally green beer (pictured above). They’ll be serving a Spirulina Wit, a Belgian Wit infused with cilantro, ginger, lemongrass, toasted coconut, kafir lime leaf, lime juice, and spirulina. The green hue comes from the spirulina algae. “In a downtown entertainment district setting, we don’t have to do too much to increase our guest count. However, offering something that no one else carries has merit and brings in more guests on special days such as St. Patrick’s Day,” says general manager Jeremy Rader. “[The beer special] is a neat way to serve out-of-the-ordinary ‘green’ beer while also supporting a local craft brewery, Freetail Brewing, which is in nearby San Antonio. Krause’s Cafe is always seeking opportunities to offer South Texas regional beer in our traditional German biergarten, which has 80 beers on tap.”
“Creating specials for holidays like St. Patrick’s Day are a great way to get the restaurant on the map for those who have never been in before.” -Tamayo director of operations Jay McCarthy
San Diego’s Backyard Kitchen & Tap is serving up a Leprechaun Poutine, fries covered in crispy corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, Jameson cheddar cheese, and scallions. “We truly appreciate the fact that there are so many great establishments in San Diego, and we have to try our best to separate ourselves from the pack. Every holiday is an incredible opportunity to create an emotional bond with the customer, and St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest holidays of the year,” says director of operations Chris Cox. “One of the things that we believe makes us unique is our ability to take classic or expected food and drink and put a modern twist on them. We feel that going that extra mile for our customers is the best way to show our appreciation for them.”
Famed steakhouse Smith & Wollensky will be celebrating with special Steak & Whiskey Event, taking place now through St. Patrick’s Day weekend, serving up a whiskey-infused dry-aged steak paired with whiskey.
Says chef Matt King, “St. Patrick’s Day is a big holiday for us. We have a large Irish guest base proudly featuring an Irish flag next to our American flag in front of each restaurant – even our owners are Irish!” And while the restaurant traditionally offers a corned beef and cabbage menu every year, they saw an opportunity to expand to a new event this year to offer a special menu featuring Irish American Whiskey’s classic and 10-year single malt whiskey. “From February through March, we offer two expertly-crafted whiskey cocktails, a whiskey tasting flight, and the ‘big shindig’ – a Double R Ranch USDA Prime New York-cut bone-in sirloin aged in whiskey for 30 days, instilling a unique whiskey-infused flavor into our signature dry-aged cut,” King says. “This is a respectful nod to both our dry-aging expertise and a fine Irish-American tradition and holiday that guests can celebrate all month long.”
In Denver, Tamayo is putting an Irish spin on their tacos to bring in guests on what would typically be a slow day for a Mexican eatery.
They’re offering special slow-cooked corned beef tacos, which guests can pair with a green pepino margarita made with jalapeno-infused tequila blanco, cucumber puree, agave nectar, and lime juice served with a green salt rim and cucumber slice. “Creating specials for holidays like St. Patrick’s Day are a great way to get the restaurant on the map for those who have never been in before. The traditional diner may get tired of eating corned beef and cabbage every year. We’re hoping to bring in new guests who are looking to celebrate the holiday in a new and innovative way,” says director of operations Jay McCarthy. “Our holiday specials will typically secure some press – which also keeps us at the top of mind when potential guests are deciding on a dining destination. The holiday specials also give our servers something fun to talk about inside the restaurant. We chose the corned beef taco because it combines ingredients we already have with a seasonal element that will work well with them.”
Even bagel shops like New York City’s Baz Bagel & Restaurant are getting in on the fun, offering special green bagels and cream cheese on March 17, so that guests can get festive starting first thing in the morning. “Holidays are fun! We always look for creative ways to connect to our customers and community. About four years ago, we took our primary Baz menu items, such as our bagels and potato latkes, and decided present them in a unique way,” says owner Bari Musacchio. “We made our first green Baz bagel and cream cheese…for St. Patrick’s Day. The success…allowed us to expand our offerings to complementary menu items such as cookies, doughnuts and cupcakes, and create customizable festive holiday spreads. Holiday specials that started as fun offering for our regulars has now produced some of our most lucrative days of the year.”
At Chicago’s MAD Social, from March 12 to 17, chef Alex Theodorff will give his signature housemade gelato an Irish update when he serves guests the MAD Lucky, an Irish coffee and Bailey’s gelato served between deep fried churro waffles and garnished with Lucky Charms cereal. “Our gelato waffle sandwich is one of our signature dishes that is easy to tweak for holidays and to showcase seasonal flavors. Our chef themes it for special holidays, which has become a big driver on social media and in the press,” says owner Gina Stefani. “Each change up sees some additional traffic and awareness. Our Valentine’s Day sandwich was a huge hit and we saw guests who specifically came in to get it after seeing it on Instagram.”
Festive desserts rule in Chi-town, where Public House will serve a seasonal version of their popular Cake Shake, the Patty Cake Shake. The Instagram-worthy treat is made of beer, cake, ice cream, marshmallows and more.
Not to be left out, San Diego pizzeria Woodstock’s Pizza is serving a Bangers and Tots pizza, loaded with sausage and tater tots. “While pizza may not be what first pops into your head for St. Patrick’s Day, it should be, because…pizza,” jokes director of marketing Jade Waterman. “Traditional or not, Woodstock’s Pizza wanted to celebrate in the fun that is St. Patrick’s Day with our Bangers and Tots Pizza. Why drink green beer, when you can drink good beer and eat pizza?”
Finally, San Diego’s Japanese spot Tajima is offering a special green-tinted Matcha-Hi drink to celebrate. The cocktail consists of Iichiko Shochu sake and iced green tea, a healthy, tasty alternative to green beer. “In creating the Matcha-Hi cocktail, the Tajima team wanted to incorporate trendy matcha tea while also offering customers an out-of-the-ordinary festive beverage. We wanted to stay true to our Japanese roots by coming up with a green sake-based drink that would make people say, ‘I’ve got to try that,’” says owner Isamu Morikizono.