Don’t Order a Black ‘n’ Tan….
This St. Patty's day as you step up to the bar to order your half stout half pale lager or pale ale concoction, please don't order a 'Black 'n' Tan'. Yes the bartender may not spit in your eye, but if he or she is a true Irishman or woman, they may be cursing you under their breath, albeit with an accent as smooth as butter.
We're used to that phrase as it has become the norm in America for the lovely pint of a counterintuitive beautiful beer mixture where the dark thick stout sits atop a lighter honey-coloured lager or pale ale. But most people think the name only refers to that color combo, and don't know that the 'Black 'n' tan' can also refer to a piece of history upsetting to many an Irish-person.
The 'Black and Tans' in Ireland are a reference to the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force which was engaged in the 1920s in active supression of the revolution in Ireland. Employed by the Queen of England and made up of WWI vets from England and Scotland, the force was supposed to focus on fighting the infamous IRA, (Irish Republican Army), but instead became famous for attacking Irish civillians.
Obviously this is not a part of history one wants to recall when celebrating Irish pride and heritage on St. Patty's day. In Ireland it's popular to drink a half stout half Irish Red ale, called a 'Pint of Special' – a drink that's all Irish and no bad memories. In the U.S. if you'd like a half Harp half Guinness concoction, ask for a 'Half and Half' – but specify what you want, as a 'Half and Half' can also refer to a half cold half warm Guinness, supposedly the perfect temperature for the beer.
This St. Patrick's Day, let go, drink up and mix away, just keep the 'Black and Tan' out of it. And maybe forgo the politically incorrect Irish Car Bombs too….