[This is the latest installment of “Cobb Cuisine, Culture and Community” by Brian Benefield]
For one day each year on March 17th, I morph into my notorious alias, Brian O’Brien. I will drink green beer and bellow out Irish folk songs at the local pub and dance a jig on the bar top and have a glorious time. No. No, I won’t be doing any of that, but you can. There are some fun happenings around Cobb county where you can do all those things and much more.
Head to Live! at the Battery Atlanta for Shamrocks and Shenanigans for Irish-themed live entertainment, signature drinks, green beer, and all-around raucous good times. Another venue in the Battery, Park Bench, will feature a Rockin’ Piano show playing Irish-themed songs and drink specials on Irish whiskey and car bombs. Which is a shot of whiskey dropped into a Guinness beer and usually produces a lovely hangover. Good luck with that.
Party for a good cause at Suburban Tap for St. Baldricks Foundation, shaving heads to cure childhood cancer. My cousin, Brandon Benefield, has been participating in this event, albeit at a different venue, for many, many years and has helped raise thousands by braving the shave. It is always amusing to see his pictures as they shave his head because they leave the hair in many stages while they use the trimmers to make an inverted mohawk and many other comical styles while on the way to being bald for a benevolent occasion. I applaud Brandon for his follicle efforts and try and donate to his team each year.
For a more upscale event where no one will vomit on your shoes (hopefully), head to Stem Irish pop-up dinner, where they will be offering up Irish nachos, corned beef and cabbage, Sheppards Pie and Bailey’s cheesecake. Pair those tasty items with a featured cocktail like Andy’s Cloverpatch, made with JJ Correy Irish Whiskey, lemon, peach, simple syrup, and bitters. Stem is an intimate wine bar with a relaxed, hip vibe with warm, dark wood and leather stools that mimic the extensive wine selection. No reservations are accepted for this one-night-only event on March 17th, so get there early and claim your seat.
Motor or Uber over to Smyrna Market Village for two days of all things green at the 20th annual St. Paddy’s Day Festival. Atkins Park Tavern ad Zucca Bar & Pizzeria will be hosting, and the list of activities includes live music, cornhole games, and Guinness will be flowing everywhere you turn. The little tykes are welcome to join on the 17th and 18th, and will have unique games just for the young leprechauns.
If you desire a truly authentic Paddy’s day experience, head to my favorite local watering hole, Johnnie Maccracken’s Celtic Firehouse Pub, at Marietta Square. Sawdust on the floor, many whimsical artifacts adorn the walls, and friendly bartenders serving up all the Irish whiskey and Smithwicks you can handle. The building housed Marietta’s first fire department and then later a bank. The food is excellent here, with what I call elevated pub grub, and I can only imagine how many plates of corned beef & cabbage they will serve that night. To say this place will be crowded is an understatement, and many folks aren’t aware they have several small rooms that imitate cozy living room spaces and a large outdoor patio out back, complete with a fire pit and stage for live music. I love this place because it’s unapologetic about being a real bar, dimly lit, worn wood, and kinda dingy. You can actually have lively, sometimes sarcastic banter with complete strangers who may eventually become friends.
St. Patrick was a fifth-century Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland and known as the Apostle of the country. Although not Irish, he was born in Britain, and the holiday we celebrate today commemorates his death on March 17th, and because the day falls during Lent; it became a day to break from abstinence and feast on meats and vegetables. Meat was cured with large pieces of salt back then, known as corn. Hence what we call corned beef nowadays, and I’ll be fixing my own recipe at home, for I have grown too old for the late-night shenanigans that will occur on the upcoming holiday. But rest assured, I will be raising a few pints of non-green beer and doing my best River dance while my wife, Cecilie, laughs not only at my precise dance execution but also my feeble attempts to say in my best, worst Irish accent-Slainte!