These Bartenders Have Seen Some St. Patrick's Day Shit

Bartenders don't hate all green cocktails, but they will remember if you do something embarrassing.

It's March, and the first signs of spring are in the air. The sun's starting to shine a little bit brighter, the birds are starting to chirp, and here in Chicago the shamrocks are starting to make their way onto bar windows, preparing for one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year. The countdown to St. Patrick's Day begins.

Only the strongest willed among us dare to make the journey downtown to witness firsthand the Chicago River being dyed green, shotgunning beers and throwing on all matter of green accessories as the sun rises. Joining in on the celebration is not for the faint of heart (or stomach). But there's one group that has little choice but to be in the eye of the neon green hurricane: bartenders.

If you do happen to go out to celebrate this year, consider what this group of past and present Chicago bartenders, with a combined total of more than 30 St. Patrick's Day services behind the bar, have to say about those green cocktails they're mixing up for you. Remember that as you are getting blotto, they are simply trying to do their jobs the best they can. May their wise words be inspiration for you to not end up the subject of yet another bartenders' St. Patrick's Day horror story next year.

What are the worst green drinks to make and/or drink?

"I worked at a sports bar that also wanted to specialize in craft cocktails (it was rough), and for St. Pat's one year a bartender only six months into bartending made a green drink that involved green Chartreuse with some insane thing that I don't think lasted long, which was a green-apple-flavored Captain Morgan. It was disgusting. Too many unnecessary steps, and an insult to green Chartreuse." —Danii Gallegos, 5 years of St. Patrick's Day service


"I'd be a happy woman if I were never asked for an appletini again." —Riley Kleckley, 4 years of St. Patrick's Day service

What are the best green drinks to make and/or drink?

"Flavor-wise the top tier green drink of all time is The Grasshopper, which is a classic cocktail from New Orleans and tastes like a Thin Mints girl scout cookie. It's kind of like a green crème de menthe White Russian, so it does have milk or half-and-half in it—you can't drink too many if you're trying to drink drink, because that's a sure way to get sick pretty quickly. It tastes great, though, and is easy to make in a large batch so you can prep it and pour it, which works well on St. Pat's." —Danii Gallegos, 5 years of St. Patrick's Day service


"They're decidedly not Irish and barely green (if you make them correctly!), but I love making and drinking margaritas." —Riley Kleckley, 4 years of St. Patrick's Day service

"I would pray people ordered a green Bud Light because we had an ungodly amount of kegs of them and they were the easiest thing to 'make' on the busiest day of the year." —Megan Gailey, 6 years of St. Patrick's Day service

What’s the deal with green beer?

"There's a nostalgia for the simplicity of the process: Put some food coloring in an ice-cold Miller Lite and now it's a St. Patty's Day Party. I've never had green beer on the line; it was always just putting a few drops of some food coloring into whatever light beer we had on draft... and usually looking like a Vulcan who cut themselves for the next day or so with the green food coloring all over your fingers." —Mike Vanderbilt, 16 years of St. Patrick's Day service


What’s one of the most memorable things witnessed from behind the bar on St. Patrick’s Day?

"One year there was a man who kept screaming every time he took a shot, got into a fight with his girlfriend, made her cry, then got into a screaming match with his bros, then reached behind our bar and stole one of our water pitchers and started drinking directly out of it, all in the span of like 20 minutes. He was like a human tornado." —Danii Gallegos, 5 years of St. Patrick's Day service


"I was working at a bar and grill called Duke's, which was right next to the Weiner Circle in Lincoln Park. A dude came in blacked-out in a neon green leotard onesie. In an attempt to save himself he ordered a burger and fries. When the food came out he took the bun off the top to what I assume was put ketchup on top but instead fell asleep face first on the burger. I shook him and he immediately shot up and a giant piece of lettuce was stuck to the top of his forehead. I said, 'You gotta go, man.' He responded, 'good call,' and walked out with a giant slab of romaine still stuck to his dome." —Nate Burrows, 9 years of St. Patrick's Day service

"One year St. Patrick's Day fell on the nicest day of the year so far, and a Saturday. The bar and streets were pure mayhem! Two strangers had sex in our attic next to tubs of ranch dressing." —Megan Gailey, 6 years of St. Patrick's Day service


St. Patrick’s Day advice

"St. Patrick's Day—and the ensuing parades—get a bad rap, and there is no doubt outlandish behavior that takes place from defecating in alleys, passing out on the lawn, and public intoxication, but I choose to embrace the positive and understand that most people out there are just looking to have a good time, and St. Patrick's Day is as good an excuse as any. It's up to us professionals to teach them a thing or two about how to do it right: start a tab, have your full order ready to go if you flag us down, and if you're going to throw up, make it to the toilet and flush it, please, for everyone's sake." —Mike Vanderbilt, 16 years of St. Patrick's Day service


"My feelings towards St. Pat's in Chicago are that it's disgusting, but you can't fight it, and it can be fun. It could be the worst shift of your life, but you could also make a ton of money and pay your rent in a day. It used to make me really anxious until I kind of developed an 'if you can't beat them, join them' mentality. Release yourself to the chaos." —Danii Gallegos, 5 years of St. Patrick's Day service