Black and Tan

September 24th, 2014 § 0 comments

An oddity. One of HG’s favorite drinks and favorite sweet confections are named for a brutal, hated military (or police) force. The Black and Tans (the brainchild of Winston Churchill, unfortunately) were a force of World War One veterans recruited to aid the Royal Irish Constabulary to fight the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War for Independence (1919-1922). They had a reputation for fierce brutality, much of it directed against the civilian population. Their name came from their khaki uniforms and black headgear. Some 9,000 served in Ireland and more than a third died or left the service. During their underground terrorist war against the British military in pre-Israel Palestine, the Irgun (and other Jewish militants including young HG, an Irgun sympathizer) often referred to British soldiers in Palestine as “Black and Tans.” Given all of that, it does seem a bit strange that HG often ordered a “Black and Tan” (one half Guinness Stout and one half Bass Ale, the perfect accompaniment to oysters). Howard W., HG’s journalistic mentor and an I.R.A. veteran, would often sup with HG on oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Howard would never say “Black and Tan” (he had killed a number of them) but simply order a bottle of Guinness and a bottle of Bass. As for sweets: In the Bronx youth of HG, the young man’s favorite ice cream parlor was Addie Vallin’s (Gerard Avenue and W. 161st Street). The “Black and Tan” was an ice cream soda. Coffee ice cream, milk, seltzer and a slightly bitter chocolate sauce mixed with chopped pecans. An incomparable ice cream soda.

March15 - Black and Tan II

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