Saint Patrick’s day always draws crowds to Omaha’s Irish pubs and establishments. But one popular holiday drink—the Irish Car Bomb—carries more baggage than patrons may realize.
The Irish Car Bomb is typically made by dropping a shot of Irish cream and whiskey into a pint of stout.
The drink’s name references the “bomb shot” style of drink and the car bombings that plagued Ireland throughout the conflicts collectively known as the Troubles. The Troubles were mainly composed of fighting between British security forces, loyalists and Irish Republic fighters.
Fighting lasted for decades, almost up until the end of the 20th century. Many of those impacted are still alive today.
UNO professor Hugh Reilly has written multiple books about Irish history and culture. Reilly has been to Ireland many times while visiting friends or working on Irish-related writing.
“For those of use who know people who were personally affected by the ‘The Troubles,’ it’s not something to joke about,” Reilly said. “I suspect it originated in some American city, possibly around Saint Patrick’s day, as a way to sell more drinks to people who are ‘temporarily Irish.’”
Despite the bloody history referenced in the name, Saint Patrick’s Day revelers can easily find local bars and pubs advertising their Irish Car Bombs. The Benson-area Burke’s Pub is just one of Omaha’s pubs offering cheap Irish Car Bombs on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Reilly said that Omaha’s local Brazen Head Irish Pub (named after the famous Dublin pub) took the drink off their menu after being asked by Irish culture organization to remove it.
It would be difficult to ignite a proper appreciation of Irish culture by the masses celebrating the holiday—but at the very least, participants should be made aware of how a drink name can carry serious weight.
Drinking a pint with a bomb shot of Irish cream and whiskey is inherently bad—but joking about the realities faced by the Irish in the not-so-distant past is. Consider switching up your bar order this Saint Patrick’s Day by calling the drink by an alternative name, such as Irish Slammer or even just Irish Bomb.