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The meaning of an Irish Car Bomb

Well, St. Pat's Day is next Tuesday. I always enjoy celebrating the day and Irish (American) culture with food, parades and some silliness. I also enjoy a beer on occasion, but usually a Harp lager, thank you very much.

Last week I leafed through the Tribune's free daily, Red Eye, and found several ads from bars promoting their St. Pat festivities with drink specials. What caught my eye was a drink called the Irish Car Bomb...

Well, I thought, now how would they come up with something that used to be the IRA's calling card? We must come a long way for a terrorist act to be remembered as a cocktail. I won't get into a history of the IRA or The Troubles - that will be another post to commemorate St. Patrick's Day. But the drink's history is probably as dubious as that of the Buffalo chicken wing.

It was said to have started in a bar in Norwich, CT in 1979 by a bartender (or owner) with the name of Charles Burke Cronin Oat. He filled up a pint glass three-quarters with Guinness stout. To that he added about a half shot of Bailey's Irish Cream and a quarter shot of Kahlua. Realizing something was missing, he topped it off with some Jameson's Irish Whiskey. The concoction foamed over and Oat announced "The IRA just showed up". And so the drink, called the IRA, was born.

Then two years later, while drinking IRAs, Mr. Oat took a shot glass, filled it with Bailey's and whiskey (presumably Jameson's), and dropped it into a glass of Guinness with the salutation "Bombs away!" Thus, the drink became known by it's current name, the Irish Car Bomb. And so it became a tradition with green beer, corned beef and cabbage, and McDonald's Shamrock Shakes (my personal favorite drink).

The drink has to be consumed quickly or the Bailey's will curdle and ruin the taste. An Irish cream liquor drink doesn't curdle by itself because according to the maker of Bailey's, Gilbey's, the cream and whiskey are emulsified where a vegetable oil is added to the process. My guess is that the reaction of beer and whiskey is enough to dissolve the emulsification and curdle the drink if not consumed quickly.

In my twenties, I mixed my beer with the occasional shot. After one memorable night of beer with shots of peach schnapps and a German liqueur whose name escapes me but had the taste of cough syrup (I'll remember eventually but forget to come back to edit the post), I ended up being sick all over a friend's bathroom (I did clean the hell out of it later) and vowed never to repeat that. I also got sick from mixing Wolfschmidt vodka with Coke another time and eating a bad burrito on top of it. No, these incidents did not happen on St. Patrick's Day. Now I never mix my liquor, so I know with certainty that I'll never attempt an Irish Car Bomb, or some of its other variations: (recipes from IrishCarBomb.com)

Traditional Irish Car Bomb
3/4 pint Guinness stout
1/2 shot Bailey's Irish cream
1/2 shot Jameson Irish whiskey
Add the Bailey's and Jameson to a shot glass, layering the Bailey's on the bottom. Pour the Guinness into a pint glass or beer mug 3/4 of the way full and let settle. Drop the shot glass into the Guinness and chug. If you don't drink it fast enough it will curdle and increasingly taste worse.

Dixie Car Bomb
1/2 oz Old Crow bourbon whiskey
1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps
15 oz Pabst lager
Done just like an Irish Car Bomb, pour the whiskey on top of the schnapps in a shot glass, and drop it into a pint of Pabst beer.

The Belfast Car Bomb

3/4 oz Kahlua coffee liqueur
1 tsp Bailey's Irish cream
1 tsp Jameson Irish whiskey
1/2 pint Guinness stout
Pour Kahlua coffee liqueur into a shot glass. Top with Bailey's irish cream and Jameson whiskey. Drop the shot glass into a half-pint of Guinness, and consume immediately.

Canadian Car Bomb

3/4 pint Molson beer
1/2 oz Canadian Club Whiskey
1/2 oz maple syrup dropped into the beer (usually the syrup is microwaved first to make it less viscous)
Drink it however you like, Canadians are not picky.

The Redneck Car Bomb

1 can Beer
1 shot Jack Daniels
Pour beer into glass, drop in shot of Jack, drink up.

Disclaimer: Irish Car Bombs should not be left sitting - drink them quickly or pay the consequences. There's no other way.
©2008 IrishCarBomb.com

There's even a recipe for Irish Car Bomb cupcakes. The chocolate cake is made with Guinness stout, with a center of Jameson's mixed with chocolate, and frosted with a buttercream frosting made with Bailey's. The recipe, which follows, is from http://smittenkitchen.com, and it also appeared in http://chewonthatblog.com :

Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes (aka Irish Bomb Cupcakes)

While the Guinness in the cake gets mostly baked out, the Baileys is fresh and potent, so if you’re making this for people who don’t drink — ahem, nobody I know, but I hear such people exist — you’ll probably want to swap it with milk.

The Baileys frosting recipe makes a smallish amount of frosting — enough to just cover the cupcakes. Because they were so rich and this frosting so sweet, I felt it only needed a little. Double it if you want more of a towering effect.

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling (Updated to double it, based on many commenters suggestions — thanks!)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes. [I used a star tip and made little "poofs" everywhere and sprinkled it with various colors of sanding sugar to keep it looking festive for New Years. I bet shaved dark and white chocolates would look gorgeous as well.]

Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)

So there you have it - another interesting way to celebrate St. Pat's Day. Enjoy!

(EDIT: I remembered the name of the German liqueur! It's Jagermeister! -p)


( 3 thoughts shared — Speak your mind )
Mar. 12th, 2009 06:39 am (UTC)
The idea of having to drink something quickly before it curdles is really not sounding too appealing!
Mar. 18th, 2010 11:21 am (UTC)
Interesting. Any idea of the recipe for a Flamin' World Trade Center cocktail?
Mar. 18th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
Don't know if such a cocktail has surfaced. If not, give it time for feelings associated with 9/11 to lessen in intensity before someone develops such a cocktail.

( 3 thoughts shared — Speak your mind )

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