Irish Car Bomb - an Idiotic Name for a Drink

Irish car bomb? Oh yeah, it is just a funny name to you, isn't it?

The victims of an Irish car bomb - Patrick Stanley (16) and Geraldine O'Reilly (15) were killed instantly when a car bomb exploded in Belturbet on December 28th, 1972
© Bernd Biege 2016

The Irish Car Bomb is a sign of idiocy, whichever way you see it. It is a beloved drink of frat boys in the USA, it seems. And car bombs were (I am using the past tense with a sprinkling of optimism here) a bloody reality for people of all ages in Ireland. Amongst the most moronic things I have ever witnessed (apart from some home-made videos on YouTube, that is) ... was that moment when a boisterous gang of young US Americans entered an Irish pub, sidled up to the bar with the swagger of the conquerors, then ordered several "Irish Car Bombs".

The barmaid looked a bit lost. First of all, because almost nobody in Ireland knows a drink called "Irish Car Bomb". And then because ... well, car bombs in Ireland tend not to curdle after a while, they tend to finish you off within a split second. "Feckin' eejits," I muttered some choice words under my breath, not low enough not to draw a few glances from the frat boys. Then the manager, having observed the group from entry to order, sidled up and told them, "We don't serve that here ... and I think you had enough anyway!" So they left, loudly frustrated. And I couldn't help but think that in many a place their order might have brought a straight right, no ice, into their faces ...

What is an "Irish Car Bomb"?

It is an US American thing ... and it is a perfect waste of three good drinks. Officially described as an American beer cocktail (I myself always had cocktails down as more refined drinks, but that's just me), the "Irish Car Bomb" is more accurately a "bomb shot", like a boilermaker.

You take a glass of Irish stout (not necessarily, but often Guinness), a bit more than half full. Then you float a measure of Irish whiskey is on top of a measure of Irish Cream in a shot glass. To complete the "cocktail", the shot glass is then dropped ("bombed") into the stout. Which may be messy in itself.

But here the fun only starts, because once the stout, the whiskey and the cream mix, the whole concoction will curdle (which incidentally, does neither diminish nor improve the taste, but might offend you sensibilities in other ways). So the whole aim of the "Irish Car Bomb" is to down it as fast as possible. Which makes it very popular with people who do not really care what they drink, but who want to make a big production out of their drinking, and get drunk in an economical time-frame.

And while the drink is fairly popular in the US, it is virtually unknown in Ireland, and some trendy English bars trying to introduce it have received complaints. Guess why ...

What an Irish Car Bomb Really is ...

Imagine being out and about on a shopping trip, when a "security alert" is announced and you are shepherded past a red car. Which actually blows up while you are still near it. Your hearing is gone, flying glass has cut your back, you have been thrown on the tarmac and the abrasions to prove it. But that is not your main concern right now. You are searching for your child, which just skipped along beside you. You can't find him or her. The next day you are asked to identify some mangled remains, limbs torn off, in the morgue ...

you found your child.

Think Omagh 1998, when a car bomb parked in the main shopping street of the town by some "Dissident Republicans" killed more than two dozen people - women, men, children, pensioners, British, Irish, Spanish. Or think Dublin and Monaghan in 1974, when coordinated car bombs planted by Loyalists killed 33 people (34 if you count an unborn child) – the highest death toll of any day during the “Troubles”. For some US visitors it might also help to think about Oklahoma City in 1995, when 168 people were killed – maybe somebody should invent a “Timothy McVeigh Cocktail”?

Ireland has had its share of car bombs and other IEDs ("improvised explosive devices"), north and south of the border, planted by both sides of the political-sectarian divide, with a death toll still threatening to rise due to some deluded "freedom fighters" trying to make their point by planting another infernal device with the full knowledge of risking "collateral damage".

And why would somebody think that this is a good name for a cocktail? And ask for it in a country that saw dozens killed by real Irish car bombs?

Just Stop and Think!

So, a tourist walks into a Tel Aviv bar and asks for a "Hamas Suicide Bomb" ... I am sure some variety of this snappy name graces a "cocktail" somewhere. Can you see this going down well with the staff? Mind you, trying to explain might be a bit late after security has dealt with a perceived threat in this case.

Or imagine you order the flambéed kebabs in a Middle Eastern restaurant, two burning skewers stuck in a wooden base. And the friendly man serving these nonchalantly mentions that this is the "9/11 Special" ...

Switch on the news every day and you are bound to hear of a car bomb going off somewhere, killing dozens. And then you go out and order an "Irish Car Bomb"? All a bit of fun, ain't it? No, it isn't. And it isn't clever either.

And, all in all, it is a waste of good drinks ...

Order a decent Irish whiskey, neat, no ice, followed by a beer chaser - much more enjoyable, giving you time to enjoy as well. And not making you look like an insensitive moron when ordering it.