WHETHER you have Irish roots or not, St Patrick’s Day (March 17) is a perfect excuse to join in the fun and entertain your mates with a colourful parade of cocktails to toast the Emerald Isle.

To start gearing up for the celebrations, an essential ingredient (along with the ubiquitous three-leaf clover) is a four-pack of Guinness Draught (£5.89, major supermarkets), or add a bottle of bubbly to the basket and treat someone special to the country’s most famous drink, Black Velvet.

Take half a flute of champagne and when the bubbles have rested, tilt the glass and top with half a flute of Guinness.

New to the luxury arena, Inish Turk Beg Maiden Voyage Whiskey (£125, 70cl, Harvey Nichols nationwide) is an Irish single malt with a curious finish.

Complex and mellow, it’s aged for 10 years and then spends two seasons in beached Poitin (small pot) barrels for a sniff of the untamed island of Inish Turk Beg, off the west coast of Ireland.

In true Irish spirit, market leader Jameson (£18.39, 70cl, major retailers) has linked up with designer Paul Daly to produce a limited edition bottle, pictured, to salute its patron saint.

Inspired by The Book of Kells, the bottle has been dressed in heraldic motifs and celtic symbols to add a shot of colour to the drinks cabinet.

Ranked second in the world of Irish whiskey, Tullamore Dew (£14, 70cl, Asda) still bears the name of DE Williams (shortened to Dew), the family distillery whose name inspired this smooth, malty, easy-drinking nectar. For a patriotic twist on the classic winter warmer, here’s a home remedy to soften the chill.

For whiskey lovers who prefer their liquid gold neat, try Connemara Peated Irish Single Malt (£26.99, 70cl, Waitrose) from the Cooley Distillery – a relatively new brand which has managed to romp home with more than 50 gold medals in the past 20 years thanks to its unique taste. Unusual for Irish whiskey, Connemara is double distilled (instead of triple) and peated. Honey sweet, this smoky single malt smoulders on the finish and is a terrific match with Cashel blue cheese.

With an Irish menu in mind, wine lovers should try Grant Burge Benchmark Shiraz 2009 (£6.62, www.everywine.co.uk). A full-bodied shiraz with red berry fruits, soft tannins and a hint of sweetness, it’s the perfect foil for Irish stew or beef, onion and Guinness pie.

Or if you prefer a silky, smooth red to complement the soft Irish accent, try the superlicious ES Pinot Noir 2008 (£9.98 Asda), Marlborough, NZ. With ribbons of raspberry fruit, black cherry flavours and a subtle spice on the finish, this seductive pinot is best enjoyed at low-key affairs.