Is The Irish Car Bomb Offensive?

Photo: Getty

If you visit almost any bar in the US on St. Patrick’s Day, you’re sure to see large groups of green-clad revelers enjoying a strange alcoholic beverage that has a name as odd as the drink itself. It’s called the “Irish Car Bomb” and it’s simply a “bomb” drink that combines a shot of Jameson (topped with Bailey’s) and a half pint of Guinness. The drinker drops the shot into the beer and chugs it before it has a chance to curdle (sounds good, right?).

Typically, the concoction is a St. Paddy’s favorite of college bros and weekend warriors alike.  “Strangely, I am a fan of them despite my disinterest at that age,” says Joseph Doose, bartender at Arbella in Chicago. “Sweet, boozy and malty, the amount of sugar consumed that quickly provides a bit of a sugar rush.”

(Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

If that doesn’t sound appetizing to you than you’ve probably never spent 8 hours drinking green beer while wearing a red wig connected to a plaid hat. “It’s popular around St. Patrick’s Day, not only because Irish is in the name, but because it gets you drunk very quickly,” says Walker Pickering, bar manager at crafted at nose dive, in Greenville, South Carolina. “And St. Patrick’s Day is used as an excuse to get annihilated on alcohol.”

It’s also popular because traditionally all of the ingredients are Irish—Guinness beer, Jameson whiskey, and Bailey’s Irish cream. “Plus, the ‘Irish’ in the name obviously,” says Jesse Torres, bar manager at Rosella at the Rand in San Antonio.

“People order them because they are well known and fun, plus they taste pretty good and are fast and easy to make and consume. Plus, they use ingredients that most bars carry.”

Not to mention, ingredients that don’t normally fly off the shelves.

“They’d also be a bit much for regular drinking, which makes people get excited to have their one or two per year on the holiday,” says Paul Barry, bartender (and waterford, Ireland native) at Grafton Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

(Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

But, unlike most fun, tasty cocktails, the Irish Car Bomb offends many people because of the history the name is derived from. “The name can definitely be offensive considering how many lives were lost by actual car bombings in Ireland,” says Torres who chooses to call it an “Irish Bomb” instead. “I’ve also seen it called an ‘Irish Slammer’ which a pretty good way of naming it too.” Calling it by a different name these days is likely a good idea to respect those that were actually harmed or killed by such an awful tragedy.

“Originally, a car bomb was exactly as the name suggests: a car designed to destroy buildings during the struggle in Northern Ireland,” says Barry. “Of course, now the war is over and everybody lost.”

But, given its history, is the drink offensive? “Here in the states, I keep it in perspective – it’s a cocktail,” says Barry, That said, he would recommend avoiding ordering both Irish Car Bombs and Black and Tans in Ireland or England. “That’s what I would call suicide by bartender.” For those unaware, the black and tan calls to mind the Royal Irish Constabulary reserve force that occupied Ireland beginning in the 1920’s.

Another thing to remember when imbibing Irish Car Bombs is the amount of alcohol you are ingesting each time you enjoy one. The only advice Pickering has about the Irish Car Bomb is, unless you want to wake up in a bar’s fireplace at 3 in the morning, you should pace yourself. That might be difficult because they are delicious and taste just like chocolate milk.

Many people have contests to see who can drink them the fastest and that’s when run into trouble. “So, unless you are trying to get black out drunk or prove your man/womanhood by drinking quickly, I would suggest sipping on a Jameson on the rocks, to celebrate St. Patrick’s day responsibly.” Also, don’t wear anything orange. That’s real no-no on March 17th.