RSS
How to survive St. Patrick's Day
An indispensable guide to drinking your way through the year's booziest holiday
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Happy St. Patrick's Day! Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images
E

veryone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, or at least everyone who loves an excuse to drink during daylight hours. Indeed, the holiday has become synonymous with copious and joyful imbibing — but not everyone is well prepared for the holiday's many challenges. As Matthew Latkiewicz at New York warned last year, you need "proper training, forethought, and mental toughness to make it through in one piece." So: To make sure your Shamrock sunglasses are the only part of your face that turns green on Sunday, here are some tips to help you survive and enjoy St. Patrick's Day. 

1. Honestly assess your drinking capabilities beforehand
Be honest with yourself. Maybe even conduct a mini-test of alcoholic endurance a few days in advance. As Latkiewicz bluntly suggested, "Knock back a shot of whiskey and chase it with a beer. Wait fifteen minutes. If you're drunk, tap out now." You needn't give up all hope if you turn out to be a lightweight, but know your limits going in. You can still sip beer throughout the day — just don't go overboard.

2. Load up on vitamins
Alcohol decreases your body's ability to absorb nutrients and depletes your body of much-needed B complex vitamins and vitamin C. This is why you feel miserable (a.k.a. hungover) after a day of drinking. "The easiest solution is to cover an entire array of vitamins and minerals by taking a decent multivitamin," said Jacob Franek of AskMen.com. If you pop one before or right after drinking, "you may notice a difference when you wake." 

3. Eat
For the love of God, do not begin your St. Patty's Day drinking on an empty stomach. Yes, alcohol is caloric. (A single Guinness extra stout has more than 150 calories — and you know you're not having just one.) However, this isn't a day for watching your weight as much as avoiding embarrassing public intoxication citations. Franek suggests starting the day with fatty foods saturated with dense carbohydrates and ample protein to slow the bloodstream's alcohol absorption. "You need a solid base in your stomach," bartender Brendan Michael Greally tells Esquire, recommending an Irish breakfast "with grease and potatoes and everything."

4. Expect your clothes to get spilled on
If you're going out, assume that basically everyone around you is going to be tipsy and kind of clumsy. With crowds and drunkenness at such high levels, "it's imperative that you have the right gear that's going to take as much punishment as your liver," says James Harris at Complex. Crowded bars can get pretty gross, so you'll need a pair of Timberlands or some other strong boots to "stomp through puddles of vomit, hop across rivers of blood, and have an ocean of beer spilled onto them." For similar reasons, it's smart to wear long underwear, because "when your pants are sopped from beer spillage," you'll want an extra layer to keep you dry.

5. Carry a flask
Do not underestimate how crowded the bars and pubs will be on St. Patrick's Day. Even if you're willing to pay top dollar and drop a few elbows to get yourself an Irish car bomb, the wait may be interminably long (or at least feel that way when you're a few drinks in). Now is the time to whip out that flask. If there's any day when it's socially appropriate to be carrying one, it's St. Patrick's Day, says Harris. "You'll look like the smart guy who planned ahead and can turn every bus ride/bathroom trip/court appearance into a party."

Emily Shire is chief researcher for The Week magazine. She has written about pop culture, religion, and women and gender issues at publications including Slate, The Forward, and Jewcy.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week