St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most notorious party holidays of the year. It is filled with parades and celebrations paying tribute to Irish culture, slowly but surely warming weather, and of course great food and drink! For this reason, we here at the Berghoff are big fans of the holiday. Traditionally people head out to a pub to get a hefty dose of Irish-style fun, but I recommend switching it up and instead throwing your own soiree! Whether you choose to cater the event (think Berghoff Catering!) or DIY, here are some pointers I gathered from my vast entertaining experience that will have both you and your guests enjoying every aspect of your party.

#1: Nothing says St. Patrick’s Day like shamrocks and green décor, so if you are going to have a themed party, go all out! You can use festive paper, shamrock decals, green lights, candles, and gold candy coins.

#2: Unless you live in a college fraternity house, ditch the green beer. There are so many Irish liquor options to choose from, so come up with some unique cocktails and Irish coffees. You can even create your own fun drink names like ‘Irish Eyes’ or ‘The Emerald Isle.’ Supplement your bar with Irish whiskeys and beers—you can’t forget the Guinness!

#3: Include Irish fare in all of your courses. For an appetizer, I would recommend Beer Cheese Soup, a combination of leeks, Gruyere cheese, and my favorite beer. For an extra Irish touch, serve this in beer mugs! Another fun and festive party favorite for the novice chef are green chive deviled eggs.

#4: A main course must on St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef and cabbage, so try to include some variation of this Irish staple. I recommend doing a Reuben sandwich bar (recipe forthcoming) to keep your party simple, but also delicious and interactive. Other authentic Irish dishes are Irish Soda Bread, Sheppard’s Pie, and Irish Stew, so choose any of them to give some true Emerald flair to your party.

#5: Aside from the classic Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, there aren’t many must-haves to a St. Patrick’s Day dessert menu. Therefore, you have room for creativity. For a simpler take, shamrock cookies and lime sherbet with green sugar are easy items to make and serve. Irish Scone and Pistachhio Cheesecake offer ways to take it up a notch. For the adventurous chef, try Irish whiskey crème brulee or Crème de Menthe crème brulee. Don’t forget to finish it off with a nice mug of Irish coffee!

Reuben Bar (Makes 8)

Dressing (make one day ahead so the flavors can blend)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 ½ teaspoons chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced celery
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced pickle
  • ¼ teaspoon Cajun spice mix
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions: 

  • Combine all the dressing ingredients.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

Sauerkraut (Prepare in advance):

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ½ cup chopped applewood-smoked bacon
  • 1 cup Berghoff lager beer
  • 6 cups bagged or canned sauerkraut, drained
  • ½ tablespoon caraway seeds
  • ¼ pound (1 stick butter)

Directions: 

  • Sauté the bacon in a 12-inch skillet until crisp and drain off the fat.
  • Add the beer to deglaze the pan.
  • Add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, and butter, and simmer for 45 minutes over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Sandwiches  (Lay out ingredients on bar or assemble yourself)

  • Dressing
  • Sauerkraut (Heated)
  • 16 slices rye bread
  • 2 pounds thinly sliced corned beef, heated (Alternative: turkey)
  • 16 slices Swiss cheese
  • Assemble and grill in a Panini machine following the manufacturer’s instructions. (Alternative method: Cook on a griddle or in a skillet with butter, as you would a grilled cheese sandwich, until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes per side).