The Secret Behind the Black-and-Tan


A standard Black-and-Tan is made in a pint glass, filled halfway with a pale ale, then layered with Guinness. In bars that take extra care in the draw of the draught, like Swift Hibernian Lounge, a small silver spoon, provided by Guinness, hangs from the tap. After drawing the pale ale, a bartender will place the spoon over the glass, and pour Guinness over the spoon to disperse the beer — a direct pour over the ale would ruin a clean flow.

The bartenders at Swift pour a Bayou Teche Pale Ale from Louisiana as the base. It’s a smooth light beer with a tinge of caramel malt. Guinness sits on top, like dark-beer royalty. The drink originated in the late 1800’s in Britain, but quickly became popular in America. Yuengling started making a pre-mixed canned Black and Tan in 1986, and a few other breweries followed suit.

Even though it’s popular at Irish pubs here, the Black-and-Tan is actually a very American drink. One of the Irish bartenders at Swift told Fork that he wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a Black-and-Tan, and not just because he’s a Guinness purist. In the 1920’s, the Royal Irish Constabulary, nicknamed “Black and Tan,” was sent to fight the Irish Republican Army, and terrorized the the country. Ouch. That’s why you would never walk into a bar in Dublin and order one. You can get it at some bars there, but it’s best to call it a “half and half.” Who knew that ordering this delicious drink could cause a fight with your bartender?

Swift Hibernian Lounge, 34 E 4th St.; 212-227-9438

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