You have your “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-shirt, the can of green hair dye and your temporary – or not – shamrock tattoos ready to go. We are in full swing of St. Patrick’s Day “season” – those four days from St. Patrick’s Day through the weekend of our two parades, and everyone is eager to get their Irish on.
Gusto wants to help. We’re starting you off with an Irish breakfast, sharing a soundtrack for the day, helping you break out of the Guinness mold and ending the day with a few movie choices.
Fuel up with an Irish breakfast
While we are not advocating slugging down a bottle of beer at the crack of dawn (although Resurgence Brewing did release an Irish Breakfast Ale), we do have a few places to fuel up for any St. Patrick’s celebrations.
New this year, the Buffalo Hyatt (2 Fountain Plaza; buffalo.hyatt.com) will serve an Irish breakfast from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 20 in the hotel’s Atrium Bar & Bistro. Items include fried eggs, black pudding and Irish bangers (sausages), baked beans, grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms and soda bread. The sit-down meal is $14 per person, includes coffee, tea and juice.
Also for the first time, Squire on Main (4548 Main St., Snyder; squireonmain.com) will serve a St. Patrick’s Day brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 20 with items like green eggs and ham, green bagels, green mimosas, corned beef and cabbage, sausage, bacon, breads, fruit and green cupcakes. Cost is $17.95 for adults (includes one complimentary mimosa), $7.95 for kids ages 3-13; free for under 3.
We like the idea of Brawler’s Back-Alley Deli (fighting Irish anyone?) at the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery (76 Pearl St.; buffalobrewerydistrict.com) for a pre-parade meal. Brawler’s serves breakfast starting at 7 a.m. daily with egg sandwiches, waffles, pancakes and omelets. For St. Patrick’s, it will add an Irish breakfast plate of eggs, bangers, bacon, potatoes, toast and sauerkraut, available through the weekend of the two parades. There’s also corned beef hash if you must. Wear green for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend and get a free coffee or hot chocolate with your breakfast.
For those visiting the motherland (South Buffalo), the Brick Oven Bistro (910 Abbott Road) serves brunch on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. with everything from eggs Benedict and a breakfast pizza to crunchy French toast sticks and of course, corned beef hash.
On March 19, Conlon’s Bar & Grill (382 Abbott Road; conlonsbarandgrill.com) will serve a breakfast buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. Items include bangers, corned beef hash, eggs and biscuits and gravy. Cost is $8.99. For the brave, sign up to walk with Conlon’s in the parade. For $30 get a T-shirt, breakfast, beer and most importantly, bathroom privileges. A souvenir cup nets a $1 discount on drinks all day Saturday and Sunday.
Bagel Jay’s (all locations; bageljays.com) continues its green bagel tradition — plain or everything style — through Sunday’s parade. Enjoy bagels the usual way or as a sandwich. The tradition started in 1977, the year after president Jay Gershberg opened Bagel Jay’s in 1976. “It’s always been extremely busy day for us. Many people started a tradition by having breakfast at our Delaware location on Sunday,” he said. Plan on an early arrival if you are headed downtown.
Note: Shannon Pub will not serve its usual Saturday/Sunday Irish breakfast. The menu will be limited during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
– Emeri Krawczyk
Beyond the Guinness
St. Patrick’s Day is ceremoniously celebrated with a Guinness Irish Stout and a shot of whiskey. And certainly Guinness is a respectable choice for a pint. But with the recent explosion of breweries and distilleries in Greater Buffalo, why not toast your lads and lasses with something made fresh and local this year? Here’s a list of five Irish-inspired beers – and a drink – available this St. Patrick’s Day. For an old Irish toast proclaims, “In heaven there is no beer… that’s why we drink ours here.” And let’s not forget the whiskey. Sláinte mhaith!
Aviator Red at Flying Bison Brewing Co. (840 Seneca St.). Aviator Red is brewed in traditional Irish Red style, but what separates this beer from other similar reds is a focus on balance. It is predominantly sweet caramel malt with a touch of spice. Malt dominance is balanced well with hop modesty. Aviator Red is a modeled after an Irish ale no longer in production, Smithwick’s Barleywine. It pairs very well with traditional Irish foods, especially a corned beef sandwich. Aviator is Flying Bison’s original flagship beer and also a tribute to one of its founders, Red.
Irish Breakfast Ale at Resurgence Brewing Company (1250 Niagara St.). You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning. And this breakfast ale by Resurgence Brewing contains plenty of popular morning flavors. It’s a traditional Irish red with a blend of interesting flavor additions. Beech Smoked malt adds a bacon-y twist, maple syrup provide sweetness and coffee beans balance roasted flavors. This beer would pair well with pork sausages, fried eggs and white pudding.
Red Clover Irish Red at Old First Ward Brewing Company (Gene McCarthy’s, 73 Hamburg St.). St. Patrick’s Day at Gene McCarthy’s will undoubtedly be packed with revelers and Irish music all day long. Patrons can enjoy a St. Patrick Pilsner for a light and refreshing beer, or a Red Clover Irish Ale for a beer with more malt presence. The malt complexity of Red Clover comes from adding a healthy amount of delicately balanced roasted barley. Because Red Clover contains a smooth creaminess and roasted coffee notes, it has been called “Red Guinness.”
Street Brawler Stout at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery (76 Pearl St.). This Irish oatmeal stout pours dark and packs a punch of roasted flavor. The oats used in brewing this beer provide a silky smoothness to complement the full-bodied mouth-feel. At 4.5 percent, Street Brawler has modest strength but plenty of roasted malt presence. For an added kick in the taste buds, try Billy Bonka Chocolate Stout, Street Brawler infused with chocolate.
Green Session India Pale Ale (IPA) at 12 Gates Brewing (80 Earhart Drive). While Session IPA is certainly a departure from traditional Irish styles of beer, it is just as drinkable and one of the most popular styles of craft beer on the market. This day-drinking beer comes in at just under 5 percent and could become a repeat offender in your glass this St. Patrick’s Day. 12 Gates Session IPA may be light in alcohol, but certainly not in flavor. Plenty of hop additions provide lime, orange and orchard fruit notes. And it’s green.
Snake Driver at Lockhouse Distillery (41 Columbia St.). Just as St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, the Snake Driver instantly eliminates the winter blues, allowing you to enjoy all the pleasures and warmth of a Buffalo spring. The foundation of this all-New York State cocktail is Bespoke bourbon cream and McKenzie’s pot still Irish style whiskey. The drink is topped off with a hefty float of Lockhouse Distillery’s Revolution coffee liqueur made in collaboration with Public Espresso. The Snake Driver is garnished with a four-leaf mint clover, adding a hint of freshness to the drink while reminding you of the greens of spring to come.
– Kevin Wise
Why is Irish music so poignant? What, within the blend of melody and text, can reach across an ocean and touch the heart of a listener in a different culture, even if they haven’t got a lick of Irish in ‘em?
Perhaps this culture-crossing poignancy can be attributed to what author Harry White calls in his “Music and the Irish Literary Imagination” a “kind of intimacy ... between music and language in the recovery and perception of Irish culture.” Meaning, we can infer, that when a culture is under siege by outside forces, it employs its native art to help it stand its ground. In this sense, Irish music is not unlike the American blues – a celebratory and passionate music of the oppressed.
Here’s a playlist of Irish songs that have always brought out the misty-eyed poet in me.
Thin Lizzy, “Whiskey in the Jar.” No, not the Metallica version. Bless those thrash metal progenitors, but for the real deal, we need Dublin’s rocker-poet par excellence Phillip Lynott and Thin Lizzy, the first band to blend traditional Irish music with street-tough rock ’n’ roll.
The Pogues, “If I Should Fall from Grace with God.” The whole album makes the playlist. There are no tunes here that can possibly be cut. Celtic punk-folk at its absolute finest. Goes well with a room temperature Guinness. Or two.
Rory Gallagher, “Dan O’Hara.” Ireland’s first guitar hero delivers the ultimate version of this traditional song. The “Dan O’Hara” of the title was indeed a real man, driven by the famine of 1846 to seek a new life in America. The twist in the tale: O’Hara made it to the “new world,” but his wife and three of his children died during the brutal voyage. This one will break your heart.
Iron Mountain, “Enthralldom.” A new, young, and refreshing Irish band whose instrumental pieces take space-rock ambience and progressive leanings and marry them to traditional-sounding Celtic melodies played on amplified Uilleann pipes. Haunting and beautiful and groundbreaking stuff.
Thin Lizzy, “Emerald.” In his definitive biography of Phil Lynott, author Mark Putterford describes this, Thin Lizzy’s crowning achievement, as “the last word on the author’s burning fascination with Irish history, a blood-curdling clash of steel and morality embedded upon a spectacular Gaelic guitar riff.” I can do no better than that.
– Jeff Miers
At the movies
Whether it’s the lush Irish scenery, the enchanting brogues or those catchy tunes, films about Ireland are a popular trip on a cinematic journey. Here are five films set in Ireland for your enjoyment. We’re not going for the best, mind you – although these all come pretty close – just a nice array of comedy, drama and music.
“The Crying Game.” A war film? A romance? Both. Neil Jordan’s drama asked deep questions about the nature of love against the unlikely backdrop of a British soldier captured by the IRA.
“The Commitments.” A largely unknown cast led this entertaining 1991 Alan Parker film about an Irish soul band. Yes, soul band – and it works.
“In the Name of the Father.” This Oscar-nominated drama is worth watching just for another tour-de-force performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. But its true story of Gerry Conlon, a man wrongly imprisoned for an IRA bombing, is quite riveting.
“Once.” A simple and lovely tale of a street musician and a Czech immigrant who bond over music. This low-budget, bittersweet romance starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova featured their Oscar-winning song “Falling Slowly” and spawned a Broadway musical.
“The Quiet Man.” In this 1952 John Ford classic, John Wayne is a retired boxer who travels to Ireland to claim his homestead and meets his match in a fiery Maureen O’Hara.
– Toni Ruberto