For the days and weeks leading up to St. Paddy’s Day, the green beer will flow in bars, pubs, and restaurants across the country. But did you know that the pint of shamrock-colored brew was not invented recently as a touristy gimmick? According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, green beer is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and was invented by an Irish New York City coroner, of all people.
Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin, a Bronx physician and coroner who hailed from Ireland, allegedly invented the beverage, and unveiled it on St. Patrick’s Day in 1914 at a Bronx social club on E.163rd St. near 3rd Ave.
Want to learn more about St. Paddy's Day? Check out the Daily Meal Slideshow on 10 Things You Didn't Know About St. Patrick's Day
“No, it wasn't a green glass, but real beer in a regular colorless glass,” read a written account from that historic day. “But the amber hue was gone from the brew and a deep green was there instead.”
Dr. Thomas H. Curtin died 35 years later, and is regarded as one of the best surgeons of his time, but, according to Inquirer blogger Joe SixPack, his legacy of the emerald draught has been lost to history.
So what’s the secret of green beer? Dr. Curtin is said to have used a drop of wash blue (a blue iron-based dye used in laundry by early 20th century housewives). Luckily for our stomachs, beer is now made green with just simple food coloring.
This story sounded a bit too good to be true, so we did some digging around. Apparently, Dr. Thomas H. Curtin was a well-known surgeon in the Bronx, but no word on if he invented green beer. Regardless, lift a green pint this weekend and toast the legacy of the man who brought you good old-fashioned shamrock-colored debauchery.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi.