Green spirits: How to drink appropriately this month

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Green spirits: How to drink appropriately this monthThis St. Patrick’s, pick up some good vibrations with these green libations.

In this green edition of Monthly, it’s important to note that there are shades of emerald that go beyond the environmentally friendly.

This being March, we must recognize a festival that elevates and exalts the color green like no other: St. Patrick’s Day. And while St. Patty’s ostensibly celebrates the life of a Christian martyr who drove snakes out of Ireland, it is also a celebration of Irish culture, or at least an extremely vague and extremely incorrect approximation thereof.

In that spirit, we’re popping the cork on a few green drink ideas to help you get into whichever form of “green spirit” you prefer.

GREEN BEER: The trusty old friend

As Irish as Lucky Charms cereal, the origins of green beer can be found not in Ireland, but the United States.

Sure, there are passing references to green beer throughout Irish history, but they generally mean green only in the sense that the beer had not finished fermenting but was imbibed just the same (times were tough in Ireland).

The exact domestic origin of this tradition has been lost to the ages. But celebrations continue to this day, nowhere more than at Miami University in Oxford, Oh., where Green Beer Day has become a tradition even larger than St. Patrick’s Day. Green Beer Day began in 1952, when the university’s spring break schedule kept students away from campus during St. Patrick’s Day.

“We’ve been here 28 years, and it’s been something we’ve done since the beginning,” said Terry Amarantos, general manager of Skipper’s Pub in Oxford, one of the many area bars that open early for the celebration.

But how does one properly make green beer?

Tradition dictates a few drops of green food coloring be added until the glass is the perfect shade, although Amarantos adds that the beer companies actually deliver his haul for the big day pre-dyed.

For those looking to avoid an embarrassing green tongue, blue curacao can also be used in lighter beers. But as you might guess, it also adds a notable kick to the drink, so sip with caution.

ABSINTHE: now totally legalABSINTHE: Now totally legal

“Got tight last night on absinthe. Did knife tricks.”
Ernest Hemingway

Obviously, we recommend neither. But for generations, the green fairy has been the jade juice of choice for artists, writers and those simply wishing to try an exotic forbidden nectar.

There is a common misconception that absinthe is illegal, owing to wild propaganda about its use in the 19th century. That led to a ban in the United States, which was eventually skirted by distillers who realized they could filter the thujone out of their absinthe and still legally sell it. This, in turn, led to an outright repeal of the ban in 2007 — one that was quickly capitalized on by the St. George Distillery.

“We began selling St. George Absinthe Verte to the public on Dec. 21, 2007, and sold out of our entire stock of product before the day was done,” said Ellie Winters of St. George. “The ban’s reversal had attracted a lot of media attention and, needless to say, there was a lot of pent-up demand.”

So now that you can legally drink absinthe, what’s the best way to do it? Some filter the drink through a sugar cube, some mix it with water and some set it on fire. In this case, we have an expert opinion from Papa himself: Ernest Hemingway mixed his with champagne for a drink he called “Death in the Afternoon.” Simply mix 1 ? oz. absinthe with 4 oz. champagne. You’re done. In a number of ways.

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In addition to beer and absinthe, there’s a whole world of green drinks out there, from the sophisticated (cr?me de menthe) to the pedestrian (Apple Schnapps, Boone’s Farm “melon ball” wine).