Enjoy these traditional Irish foods and drinks during your March 17 celebration.
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celtic knot cookies
Credit: Mike Krautter

A celebration that takes place on March 17 each and every year, St. Patrick's Day is centered around enjoying Irish culture, especially Irish recipes. While everything from food and drinks in green hues will play into the holiday tradition, there are cherished recipes that specifically speak to Irish culture. To make the day special, consider welcoming close friends and family into your home for a potluck. While there aren't hard-and-fast rules on what you should make versus what your guests should bring, the menu should be filled with the most delicious Irish cuisine. In need of some ideas? You're in luck: Ahead, we've gathered expert tips and are sharing some of our favorite foods and drinks that you and your guests can bring to the table for an unforgettable St. Patrick's Day potluck.

Start with Signature Sips

For guests who may not want to bring a dish, Billy Lawless, the owner of Chicago's The Gage, suggests attendees bring some of the delicious libations. "Start with an Irish Gin (like Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin) and your favorite tonic," he notes. "Serve it in a big wine glass and garnish with grapefruit twist, lime wedge, and a sprig of rosemary." However, as a pairing with the main course, he recommends switching from the gin and tonic to beer. "A classic Irish Red Ale will work perfectly," he says. His favorites for a St. Patrick's Day celebration are Smithwicks O'Hara's Irish Ale or Three Floyds Brian Boru Irish Red Ale.

Serve Classic Appetizers

The appetizer course is a great way for your guests to contribute to the potluck. Have someone bring a loaf of Irish Soda Bread or our Irish-Style Brown Bread. Smoked salmon on buttered brown bread is a classic appetizer for a St. Patrick's Day potluck. Lawless suggests topping this appetizer with caper berries, shaved red onion, a touch of black pepper, lemon juice, and a dash of hot sauce. If you want to serve another introductory course, Lawless recommends "a Seafood chowder: A beautiful, light tarragon-scented fish broth with your favorite fresh fish, finished with a touch of cream." Try our Seafood Chowder, which features shrimp, clams, and cod.

Make a Delicious Main Course

For a main course, Lawless recommends serving Shepherd's Pie. This entrée, which is filled with ground meat, onions, garlic, herbs, and vegetables in gravy and covered with mashed potatoes, is most often served with lamb in Ireland. If you need a meat-free menu option, consider our Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie. Shepherd's Pie pairs well with a red ale, as the richness from the meaty dish finds a complement in the smoothness of the beer.

If you're in search of another traditional Irish dish for the festivities, consider a stew. "Slow-cooked beef stews or lamb stews are probably the most popular, served with colcannon, which is butter mashed potatoes with cabbage folded through, it's real Irish soul food," Clodagh Mckenna, chef, restaurant owner, and cookbook author, says. The colcannon can be made-ahead and reheated at your home, and it doesn't spill, so one of your guests can bring this easy-to-transport dish to go along with your main course.

Complete the Potluck with a Sweet Treat

Indulge in Celtic Knot Cookies, Chewy Irish-Coffee Blondies, or Irish Stout Cupcakes on St. Patrick's Day. These are all great make-ahead dessert options that your potluck guests could bring. A favorite dessert for Lawless is an Irish Cream-infused Cheesecake. He says you can create a late-night drink to serve as the perfect pairing with the cheesecake. Make a "farewell Irish coffee" by combining five ounces of black coffee, two teaspoons of brown sugar, and two ounces of Red Breast 15-Year Old Irish Whisky and shaking cream in a cocktail shaker and pour over the teaspoon to let it settle on top, he shares. We think it would pair well with any of the St. Patrick's Day desserts on your potluck table.

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