The Irish Car Bomb: a Cautionary Tale

St. Patty’s Day is not a holiday; St. Patty’s Day is an excuse to drink. And a damn good one. Green beer, Irish Car Bombs and Jameson shots the size of leprechauns.

However, my first experience with the Irish Car Bomb was not in a cheery Irish college bar on a bet, while a dozen girls around me screamed “woo.” No, it was in a dive-y Irish bar in Spain during what turned out to be the longest night of my life.

I had been living in Spain for a few months studying Spanish (read: drinking an obscene amount of liquor with a fistful of expats). My parents decided that they were tired of my unproductive trip and that they were coming to pick me up and turn the whole event into a family vacation. Unfortunately, the day they arrived also happened to be the day Spain was scheduled to play in the Euro Cup final. The “vacation” got off to a rough start.

A Timeline of Madness

3 p.m. – family arrives in Oviedo, Spain
4 p.m. – family passes out from jet lag. I indulge in their hotel minibar
4:15 p.m. – minibar empty. I leave to find more booze.
4:35 p.m. – stop at local bar to buy a beer and a grip of sandwiches. Engage in heated soccer argument with bartender.
4:36 p.m. – conversation ends when we both agree Italy is the worst.
4:37 p.m. – we toast with two bottles of sidra.
5:30 p.m. – bored and buzzed, I return to the hotel room to wake the grumpy beasts.
6:30 p.m. – family is fed, awake, and ready to go watch the Euro Cup Final.
7:30 p.m. – after we split a bottle of sidra at dinner, my brother George loudly declares he could out-drink me.
8:15 p.m. – we move to my favorite bar.
8:30 p.m. – the bartender (John) reveals he is being given the bar and needs to clear out his stock.
8:31 p.m. – John insists every member of my family indulge in an Irish Car Bomb, known in Spain as a “coche bomba.”

My mother is clearly worried

8:55 p.m. – after an hour of the game, the bar has gotten rowdy. My parents are tired from the flight/booze and decide to leave. Settling their bill, they leave John with a generous tip. Used to a country where tipping 5% is too much, John takes this as an open bill for George and I.

8:56 p.m. – George and I realize this small fact.
9:01 p.m. – we both step outside for a celebratory cigarette. Neither of us are smokers.
9:04 p.m. – vomiting.
9:15 p.m. – coche bombas
9:16 p.m. – sidra
9:20 p.m. – John informs we finished our bill.
9:25 p.m. – George and I decide to get John drunk so he will give us free drinks.
9:26 p.m. – coche bombas. Every person in the bar.
9:35 p.m. – Spain wins! Bar celebrates briefly.
9:36 p.m. – coche bombas

Coche bombas give you wiiiiiiiiings!!

Blackout Monsters

At this point in the evening, things become fuzzy. What happened next I pieced together from stories and pictures over the next few days.

11 p.m. – George and I find a fountain full of drunken revelers. Clothing optional.
11:01 p.m. – we take the option.
12 a.m. – we engage a tree in a fight. George helps by throwing me into the tree.
12:30 a.m. – finding a street vendor selling trinkets outside of a bar, we stop to share a bottle of sidra.
1:17 a.m. – I send a single text to an ex-girlfriend overseas: “reality becom fluid” [sic]
2:30 a.m. – arrive at hotel room. George decides if he drinks water, he will not have a hangover. The first water he finds in the freshly-stocked minibar is sparkling.
2:32 a.m. – bottlegate. George removes all spring water from fridge. Reaches into back to get the coldest standing water.
2:33 a.m. – George struggles with the pry off lid.
2:34 a.m. – bottlegate concludes as George breaks neck of bottle, passes out on floor.

Coche Bombas are Never the Answer

As far as the many gaps in our night, we may never know. What I do know is that George spent the next day alternating between vomiting and crying. I spent the day explaining to my ex why I had contacted her.

So if you decide, this fine St. Patty’s Day, that you want to “spice things up” with an Irish Car Bomb, go ahead. But remember this: You will forget things. You will need to apologize to people in the morning.

And you will fight a tree.

I did not win.

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