It's finally March, which means St. Patty's season is upon us—and in Chicago it really is a season, not just a day. There are parades and pub crawls and everything is green, green, green! Forest Park's St. Patrick's Day parade takes place this Saturday, March 9th at 1 p.m. I hear that every year it gets bigger and better. Personally, I haven't been in a decade and I don't have any plans to go this year either.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no St. Patrick's Day Scrooge. I may not be Irish, but I love a good Forest Park celebration. I had a great time back in 2003 when we took my five year-old niece, and I appreciated as I often do, the way Forest Park can make events both kid-friendly and fun for grown-ups. However, I've been a bartender ever since then, which makes St. Patty's season a lot of work.
For the most part, I enjoy it. January and February are often dreadfully slow in the bar biz, and when people finally come out of hibernation in March and the Beacon gets its first keg of Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale (a seasonal favorite among craft beer enthusiasts), I'm ready to start celebrating! While I do enjoy a breather at work every now and then, especially so I can chat with my regulars, I think everybody prefers it when their job moves fast. I'm no exception. I love getting into a rhythm of constantly pouring beers and mixing drinks.
Several years ago, I invented my own special shot for St. Patrick's Day. I wanted to do something festive and green that didn't involve adding food coloring to cheap beer. So I mixed together a few things that turned a fine shade of emerald and the first group who tried them proclaimed that they were just like little boozy versions of the McDonald's Shamrock Shake. They come back every year for a round of what we dubbed the Shamrock Shot and I eagerly anticipate their arrival.
Those folks are a prime example of what I love about St. Patty's—friendly people just out to have fun, proving that you can drink without turning into a rude, obnoxious fool.
However, I always head in to work on parade day with a little bit of anxiety because with the good comes the bad. Examples of the things I dread about St. Patty's: people who get impatient and shout to be served (we bartenders see you and will get there, we promise, but there are a lot more of you than us); pub crawls where everyone wants to pay with a card and leave quickly, all at the same time (the ATM is your friend, folks); Irish Car Bomb shots (literally the most disgusting glassware I've ever had to clean, pure cruelty to bartenders and bar-backs); and worst of all, that person who gets way too drunk and ruins everyone's good time.
A few years ago, I came to work at 7 p.m. on parade day. There was a terrible stench in the bar and a couple of my regulars were looking unhappily sober. I asked what had happened and was informed that the guy who'd been standing right behind them had "pooped his kilt." (Well, more colorful language was actually used, but you get the picture.) His girlfriend cleaned him up and escorted him out (and hopefully dumped him the next day), but the stink remained.
So, if you're going to the parade, drink, be merry, but also be patient, bring cash, and above all don't be the kilt-pooping guy!
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