Don't be That Guy this St. Paddy's Day 

click to enlarge Bartender extraordinaire and beverage entrepreneur Zach Wilks tells us how to stay in control during this marathon drinking holiday. - MICHELLE CRAIG
  • Bartender extraordinaire and beverage entrepreneur Zach Wilks tells us how to stay in control during this marathon drinking holiday.
  • Michelle Craig


Everyone has seen That Guy during a St. Paddy’s day celebration: Ray Bans askew, flinging green beer out of a sweatily-gripped pint glass with every dramatic hand gesture, screaming at the top of his lungs for his “MEGAAAAAAAN!” or beloved “RACHEEEEL!” That Guy wants to talk about his Mud Run/Warrior Dash time again. That Guy thinks that, on this hallowed date devoted to day drinking, Jameson makes a great breakfast. That Guy uses the word “turnt” unironically. He seems to be well-dressed and decently employed, but by 3pm, having started the day’s drinking at 8, he’s already stumbling around with a bear’s hunger for cheeseburgers and an impending blackout more powerful than a gallon of Purple Drank. But in between, That Guy will keep drinking until his blood alcohol finally tears him from consciousness and piledrives him facedown onto the floor. For the love of God, do not be That Guy.

Aside from the obvious legal complications of being completely wasted on St. Paddy’s day, the truth is that no one likes to deal with an extremely intoxicated person no matter what day of the year it is. Still, everyone likes to make a day out of the festivities, some starting at breakfast and others after work; So we consulted Zach Wilks, who has moved over full time to Hotel Tango distillery from his previous post at Ruth’s Chris in the Ironworks building. You might also remember him from our Cocktail Guide to the Holidays.


“When I go to cocktail conventions, those are a week long instead of just a day,” he said of his qualifications on marathon drinking advice. “St. Paddy’s day is different than most day-long drinking events because it tends to be a sprint more than a marathon.” Bartenders and food and beverage people are well-trained drinking machines, but that doesn’t mean they’ve outsmarted the normal alcohol metabolism process. These folks know that they key is maintenance and rehydration.

“I do one-to-one, water per drink, so if I have a pint of beer, I drink a pint of water. If I have a cocktail, I have a pint of water, and that tends to ease things out.” Instead of going for a blackout-by-noon record, don’t try to do all the partying you’ve been putting off because of weather and Netflix in one day. There will be other drinks other days, Wilks reminds us. “You don’t have to do every shot of Jameson or every Irish Car Bomb that someone makes,”

If you’re starting early and want to keep it going more than a few hours, the key is to drink low on the ABV scale and save the hard stuff for when you’re almost ready to call your Uber or Lyft home.

“I always try to stay as lower-proof as I can throughout the day until the end, so I’ll drink beer most of the day, and then at the end of the night, for my last couple drinks I’ll have Irish Whiskey, a Redbreast, my favorite Irish Whiskey,” Wilks says. “It’s a pot-stilled whiskey, probably in my top five favorite whiskeys ever.”
And of course, we must recommend eating a decent meal before you start your Paddy party, so make sure you click right here to see where to get good corned beef and cabbage.

Or you can skip the revery and the green beer and the blacked out sorority girls and celebrate in your own home with an Irish take on the Old Fashioned.

Zach Wilks' Irish Rover

2 oz Redbreast 12 year Irish whiskey
½ Oz Wilks & Wilson Gomme
2 dashes W&W Orange Bitters
Garnish with orange peel
Served on the rocks

Directions: In a mixing glass, combine with ice and strain over an extra large ice cube in a double rocks glass. 

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Sarah Murrell

Sarah Murrell

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Sarah Murrell covers all things food, beverages and sometimes gives decent sex and relationship advice. You can stream her consciousness on Twitter, if that's where life has brought you.

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