Bottoms Up: The Irish Car Bomb

There is a certain type of drink that involves dropping a shot of spirits to the bottom of a pint glass filled with beer and chugging the whole damn thing. The prototype is the Boilermaker – a shot of any whiskey dropped into a pint of any beer – but subsequent modifications have come to include a rather large list of possible variations. Some, like the Dr. Pepper (featuring an amaretto shot) are intended to recreate a specific flavor, while others, like the infamous Sake Bomb, are a little alcoholic celebration of an entire culture. This past week we tried our hand at one of the most enduringly popular manifestations of this latter type.

The Irish Car Bomb, and to some extent all such “bomb” drinks, is more than just a drink – it is an experience in every sense of the word. An explosive combination of the finest ingredients – Guinness Draught, whiskey, cream liquor, the Irish and bombs – it is nonetheless, as a whole, even greater than the sum of such esteemed parts. Because of the ritualistic nature of its consumption, the drink is a bar room favorite, especially (for obvious reasons) around St. Patrick’s Day, and within close vicinity of firehouses. Yet the ICB can also be a crucial asset in any situation where drinkers finds themselves in need of “catching up” and want a quick and delicious way to become one considerable step closer to intoxication. Drinkers beware though, the Irish Car Bomb is rarely an inexpensive enterprise, and while there are certain ways to lower the cost without wholly sacrificing taste or sanctity, one must approach the endeavor with a sense of extravagance generally foreign to the penny-pinching college student.

The foundation upon which a true ICB is erected is none other than Guinness Draught – and really none other, so don’t try to get fancy with Extra Stout or something like that. The beer is poured into a pint glass, but not to the brim as to allow room for the shot; pouring 12 oz. bottles into 16 oz. glasses, as we did, works quite well. Pouring the beer first will provide just enough time to let it breathe and settle, as Guinness foam is notoriously thicker than that of your average can of suds. While the head settles – and be sure to avoid distraction by the curious beauty of this process – proceed to preparation of the shot. The shot portion of an ICB consists of Irish Cream Liquor (Baileys of course being the poster child) and Irish whiskey (Jameson, Tullamore Dew, etc.). While some traditional versions of the recipe call for a one-to-one ratio of the cream liquor to the whiskey, we followed the advice of our local liquor merchant – and to some degree our own sweet teeth – and went with a three-to-one ratio of cream liquor to whiskey within the shot glass. Feel free to experiment, catering either to taste or to alcohol content as you see fit.

It is during the actual drinking of an ICB that the equipment listed above, as well as the drink’s intricate preparation, reveals itself as absolutely necessary. Before drinking it is essential that one positions the full shot glass above the three-quarters-filled pint glass of beer, and holds it there for slightly longer than necessary, so that suspension of such sweet nectar above the draught’s miniature sea of singing foam builds tension to an almost unbearable level. Once such suspense is thoroughly established, the final pre-drinking step is to lock eyes in a fierce gaze with your compatriot drinkers and begin the customary “three, two, one” countdown. When the clock hits zero, dropped shall be the shot, which will subsequently clank off the bottom of the pint glass, immediately catalyzing the frothy reaction so often associated with the drink, and giving the shot glass just enough of a push to let its contents start slowly mixing with that beer closest to the bottom of the pint. With no glass and no clank, alas poor red Solo cup you fail us here. Now, with the drink beginning to foam, it is time to test your might by slugging down the contents of your glass as quickly as possible.  Everyone wins when car bombs are involved, but he who finisheth firsteth shall be deemed the mightiest.

Even the most skeptical or inexperienced of drinkers will likely be astonished by the drink’s effect. Drinking two or more ICB’s within a short span of time might also provide a far less enjoyable kick in the stomach – especially if hard boiled eggs are involved as well – but with such a potent and pleasant drink one has little reason to not adequately pace oneself.