On St Patrick’s Day, a group of friends and I were listening to the most insipid set I’d ever heard, at a bar in Allentown, Buffalo- no toes were tapping, and even the rowdiest Poques song was done in a mournful, off-key wail – when suddenly, a group of five people walked in, setting everyone else on alert. It wasn’t just the two incredibly drunk men wearing red t-shirts bearing the Polish Orzeł Biały – the white eagle on the crest of Poland – or the two women wearing green t-shirts that asked they be kissed because they weren’t Irish; mostly it was the fifth person. This guy wore a green shirt with a simple math equation done in symbols and the words “craic agus ceol” (translated from the Irish – craic and music, which essentially means a good time) on it.
The composition of the equation was: an outline of a stout glass with a shamrock in it + an outline of a jigger with, yep, a shamrock in it = an exploding car, with craic agus ceol immediately below it. At least the designer put only three leafs on each clover.
The group then ordered five Irish Car Bombs, which Patrick, the half-Irish, half-Italian bartender, refused to serve – reasoning 1) they had clearly drunk enough already and 2) he didn’t make a drink called that. Shortly after doing a shot of Jameson (served by a different bartender), and then fighting with each other, in a brawl that looked just like a live episode of Jersey Shore (coming soon the musical!), the group left.
The silence in the bar that followed their departure was broken by everyone wondering:
- Did the guy wearing the shirt actually know enough history to understand how insensitive wearing that shirt was on any day?
- Was there a more culturally insensitive drink name out there?
Here is a list of responses from people (including bartenders), across New York state, in order of mentions.
- The Irish Car Bomb aka the Ulster Car Bomb. Because let’s, at all costs, be geopolitically correct and succinct in our phrasing.
- Sexually explicit drinks like Sex on the Beach, Slippery Nipple or Blow Job (the three most commonly mentioned.)
- The same drinks but described as sexually derogatory
- Bloody Mary – one reasoning for its name is Mary Tudor, who fatally persecuted Protestants in medieval England. (Wikipedia)
- White Russians – White Russians were nationalist, conservative anti-Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution (the side that lost, in other words). They technically are not the source for the name of the drink – it’s just because of milk added to a Black Russian, which is named for its two ingredients – coffee liquor and vodka – but it is probably the most erudite answer I received and came from my cousin Olivia.
- According to a bartender at The Modern in New York City, the most insensitive moment in alcohol history came during an embargo by the US and also Britain on all French liquor during the early 19th century– the era around the Napoleonic Wars. Though, he amended later, this led, within the United States, to the making of many drinks with whiskey, especially indigenous bourbon instead of brandy, and that was a very good thing for all.
By far, any hibernially demonymous car bomb was the response most often given. The question was asked of patrons and servers in bars during the month of March and April. This led to the experience of people identifying “Irish Car Bomb” under signs promoting specials of the same drink – “Irish Car Bombs only $7! Buy two for $10!”
Several of the bartenders polled mentioned that clients would actually ask if the they could order a drink by that name before proceeding to do so, or apologize for saying the name while ordering the drink. Seems like, if the name of a drink is so insensitive as to make people take caution while ordering, it might be time for some renaming. And somebody, please, get that guy a new t-shirt. I hear the O’Bama shirts are two for one.